Source: USA Today (Extract)
Posted: May 11, 2023

Like many accomplished people, Buddy Holly’s recent life has been dominated by the pursuit of a rarified success that has seen him relentlessly crisscross the country and eventually rise to the top of his field.

Now, having done just that, he’s turning his attention to the only thing left for anyone who has seemingly achieved it all in their career: a relaxed retirement in Palm Springs.

But don’t expect to see this retiree on the golf course or out sippin’ margaritas by the pool, telling anyone who will listen about the days when he was so much more than just another has-been. His handler says you’ll instead be more likely to come across him enjoying a walk around the neighborhood, or perhaps a treat on the patio of a local coffee shop.

That’s because Buddy, despite his distinctly human name, is not one at all but is in fact a somewhat uncommon breed of canine who just cemented his status as the city’s – and nation’s – top dog by winning Best in the Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show earlier this week.

Buddy was set to return to his still relatively new home of Palm Springs on Thursday, two days after he won the prize. He will continue to live here with his owner and handler, Janice Hayes, and her husband, who have lived in the city for eight and 13 years respectively.

Buddy Holly just a normal dog

While Buddy was widely hailed as being from Palm Springs after his win Tuesday, Hayes said he has spent only scant time in the city. That’s because she and Buddy have been busy traveling from one dog show to another since she adopted him from England in December. But with Westminster in the rearview, Buddy can now look forward to being at home in the city, she said.

That’s something he will likely appreciate, as Hayes said that while the prized 6-year-old pooch’s last few months have been anything but ordinary, he is really a pretty regular dog.

“When I’m home, he’s pretty normal,” said Hayes. “He’s just a boy that runs around with his girls (the other dogs he lives with) and lives his best life. And now he’s going to get more of that because we don’t have to travel as much and he’s retired.”

And while one might assume a champion pooch must live a life of pampered luxury, she described her home as “a small little setup,” which makes sense in part because she spends so much time traveling to dog shows professionally.

That domestic life will be a sudden change for Buddy, who she said has competed in 50-60 shows in his career, winning five best in shows. But as great as Buddy’s career leading up to Westminster had been, Hayes says she had not fathomed the success he would have there.

“He had a great career, even though it was short and sweet leading up to this,” she said. “But I could never have imagined this, we’ve done this so fast. Needless to say, we are thrilled.”

‘He did it with attitude’

So what does the life of a champion pooch involve? Running on a treadmill to stay in shape for one, said Hayes. Then there are the weekly baths. But Hayes says if you are assuming that Buddy’s life consisted of an endless gauntlet of training and prep, you are more than a little off base.

“It’s not anything intensive, it’s just more little stuff every day,” she said. “Kind of like with an athlete, conditioning is everything and it’s not something you do all of a sudden, and he’s great, it’s more from the time he is a puppy, you are training them up.”

Of course, there are some things that just can’t be trained. Hayes said Buddy stands out because, in terms of the characteristics of his breed, he’s “got the complete package.” Buddy is a Petit Bassett Griffon Vendéen (or PBGV), a small breed known for their tousled appearance (Buddy was the first of the breed to win at Westminster).

She said the characteristics you want from a PBGV include a shorter ear and tail and what she describes as a “happy-go-lucky” way of moving, all of which Buddy possesses. Then there are the personality intangibles.

“The way he showed Tuesday, I absolutely could not have asked for him to do any better,” she said. “He never put a foot down wrong, and he did it with attitude. It’s a hardheaded, stubborn little breed, and he’s just an awesome example of it.”

After his big win, Hayes said Buddy was spoiled “with cookies and extras,” and has been living his best life since.

Wednesday was also an exciting day as Buddy visited the top of the Empire State Building, a champion’s lunch at the iconic Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park, and appearances on both “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” with Buddy even rolling up to be greeted by Michael Strahan in a Rolls-Royce.

But with that most memorable trip to the Big Apple now complete, it is Palm Springs residents who will now be able to enjoy getting to know their newest local icon.

“We’ll definitely be making some appearances around town, I think,” Hayes said. “He’ll be sad not to be going to shows all the time, so we’ll have to make up for that by going to some coffee shops and making some appearances for sure.”

Of course, one question is still to be answered: How long until Buddy gets his rightful star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars? And another: Will he get to put his doggy paws in the pavement alongside it, Hollywood-style?

Surely that would seem only right for Palm Springs’ most precious pooch.