Gulfport Cavalier King Charles Spaniel fanatic Michele True is showing a grand champion level pup at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with the hopes of taking home Best in Show.
Miss Bliss, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sporting a Marilyn Monroe-esque beauty mark and a price tag of upwards of $4,500 can be found lounging, tongue-out, on her owner Michele True’s Gulfport front porch on most days.
On June 12, at 1 p.m. on the dot, the local spaniel will be canine royalty, brushed and blown out, prancing across the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s stage in Tarrytown, New York and live streamed in prime time.
The show starts on Friday, June 11; judges will choose a four-legged winner by Sunday, June 13.
Best in Show, Westminster Edition
The Westminster Dog Show, an illustrious canine competition that compares The American Kennel Club (AKC) dog breeds on their conformity to the specific breed standards, is being held outdoors on an estate in Tarrytown instead of Madison Square Garden for the first time in 145 years.
There will be no physical spectators or vendors this year, but the cameras will continue to roll.
“There’s no money, but there is a big stinkin’ trophy,” True said, with a tiny spaniel sleeping at her feet. “It’s not about the money, it’s about dedication to the breed and for a lot of people, the validation of doing a spot on job.”
For Miss Bliss and the other 33 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who will compete in the race for perfection, the change of pace – a cause and effect of COVID-19 – makes no difference to the intensity of the competition.
“Of course I hope she wins, but I’m really rooting for the breed,” True said. “I’d be happy to see a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the top.”
The toy breed has never yet won Best in Show at Westminster
It’s both True and Bliss’s first time entering the Westminster ring, in which furry contestants can only attend if they are champion dog show winners and are chosen in a lottery system, or if they get formally invited.
“I know wonderful breeders whose dogs were not picked,” True said. “She seems to have this perfect star line.”
Miss Bliss is 11 months old and fairly new to the dog-showing game, but so is her owner, who started showing and breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels six years ago in Florida.
Miss Bliss’s previous competitions around the country have typically ended in success.
“We only show a dog if the dog enjoys it, like when we bring Miss Bliss into the ring she really struts her stuff, she hears people clapping and she’s like ‘is that for me?’” True said. “We have a boy who immediately was like ‘yeah no,’ so it just depends on the dog’s personality.”
Miss Bliss receives a two hour grooming session the day before the show and a period of time bonding with her handler in Tallahassee preluding the weekend.
“They’re getting used to each other’s energies, sleeping together, going on walks,” True said.
Tune in and root for Gulfport’s champion live at westminsterkennelclub.org.