February 04, 2009 12:45 PM

When Uno won Westminster last year, the whole country was delighted to have a lovable beagle as a national champion. Not only did we love the familiar, happy breed, but Uno himself was quite a charmer. “We’ve never had a dog like Uno and we never will again,” says David Frei, a Westminster Kennel Club spokesman and the lucky guy who got to escort Uno around the country throughout his reign.

Frei credits Uno’s 80-year-old owner, Caroline Dowell, for fostering the dog’s sense of adventure – she let Uno travel to some 30 states across the U.S. because she knew he liked it.

When Uno stays with Frei in Manhattan he lives with three other dogs, longs for the squirrels of John Jay Park and is a regular at two outdoor restaurants on the Upper East Side. He still sometimes faces the challenges of everyday dogs when cabs pass him by. “I wanted to hold up a sign that says ‘Do you know who this dog is?” Frei jokes.

Frei heads the Westminster’s Angel on A Leash therapy dog charity and co-wrote a book on these helper dogs, so he put Uno in a six-week course with the ASPCA. Now a certified therapy dog, Uno visits wounded vets and kids at Ronald McDonald houses. And will continue to do so after he’s relinquished his crown.

Frei says people will sometimes jokingly call out “Uno!” to the beagle and he’ll explain that it really is the celebrity hound. There may never be another Uno like this one but soon perhaps we’ll see a Dos, Tres and Quattro. Frei says Uno may start to breed this summer.

Farewell, Uno! Leave your best wishes for Uno in the comments area below!

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