Hot off a tour in his honor that included Anderson Cooper's adoration, the chance to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, an onstage appearance in a Broadway show and filet mignon served on a silver platter at Sardi's, Banana Joe seemed content to be back at home in Bowmansville on Tuesday.
Joe, 5, an 8-pound affenpinscher, made history last week when he became the first of his breed to win Best in Show at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
He beat more than 2,700 dogs in 187 breeds as the show had its largest number of entries in 15 years.
"He's really an ambassador of the breed," said Joe's handler, Ernesto Lara.
While Joe's rural residence, just over the Berks County line in Brecknock Township, Lancaster County, had a much slower pace than the recent Madison Square Garden competition, Joe spent his downtime in style surrounded by an entourage that fussed over his precisely sculpted, glossy black coat.
After all, the tiny guy has big attitude.
"He doesn't know he's little," Lara said of the pooch's larger-than-life personality.
Part of Joe's charm comes from his soulful eyes, muscular body and good bone structure, Lara said, adding that affenpinscher, a word of German origin that means monkey terrier, describes the breed's primatelike facial features and sharp communication skills.
Lara operates Greenfield Yarrow Kennels in Bowmansville. The dog training, boarding and grooming facility was founded in the 1960s by Peter Green, a dog handler and record-breaking winner at Westminster.
"I apprenticed under him," Lara said of Green. "I took on the business when he retired."
Lara leases the operation where he works with roughly 60 show dogs.
Lara said he's still trying to comprehend Joe's victory.
"It was a whirlwind, hasn't kicked in yet," he said.
"It was unexpected," said Lara, who moved from Mexico to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, of Joe's win.
He called Westminster the most prestigious dog show in the world. He equated the dog show win with that of a Super Bowl victory.
"You don't go into a show like that thinking you are going to win it," he said.
Lara, 49, started showing dogs when he was a painfully shy teenager. His love of the animals and the sport helped him become more comfortable around people, he said.
"You get to meet people from all walks of life," he said of the dog show world.
The sport can be expensive, however, Lara said.
"It is not a cheap hobby," Lara said of costs that can reach six figures for a dog such as Joe, including fees for travel to and from scores of shows per year plus the need to hire help.
Lara took a small team of experts from around the world with him to the recent Westminster show, where they exhibited several dogs in addition to Joe.
Joe's favorite person in the group is Bowmansville resident Carlos de la Torre, Lara's assistant handler and trainer.
"(Joe's) main man is Carlos," Lara said.
Joe raised his ears and wagged his tail when de la Torre entered the grooming parlor.
The Westminster win was a dream come true, de la Torre said, as he produced his cellphone that displayed a photo of him reaching for the heavens moments after Joe took the Best in Show title at Madison Square Garden.
"I was very, very happy," de la Torre said, adding he'll face equally powerful, albeit bittersweet, emotions when Joe leaves the U.S. and heads for the Netherlands, where he'll retire and be cared for by his owners, Mieke Cooijmans and Tina Truesdale.
"I'll cry for sure," de la Torre said.
Contact Teresa McMinn: firstname.lastname@example.org.