It will be a very different Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for Lori Crandlemire and Miss P this year.
Instead of strutting on the carpet at Madison Square Gardens, the beagle breeder and her champion pooch will be curled up together watching the spectacle on television from their Enderby living room.
Miss P was last year’s Best in Show winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. While already a top show dog, Miss P was the proverbial underdog to win the Best in Show honours at the most prestigious show in North America.
Despite the odds, Miss P’s beagle charms won over the judge and, along with her handler Will Alexander, was swept into dog show history.
After winning the title and conducting a few worldwide media appearances on talk shows, in parades and even getting to drop the puck at a Chicago Blackhawks game, Miss P returned to live with the Crandlemire family this March and is retired from the show ring.
“She’s enjoying her retirement,” says Crandlemire, who admits that Miss P now sleeps on the bed and enjoys her days in the companionship of her grandfather and two other beagles.
She’s also got a definite preference for her two stuffed toys, a fox and a bunny, and doesn’t play prima donna at the food dish.
“Well, she is a beagle. They’ll eat anything,” laughs Crandlemire.
But Miss P hasn’t entirely stepped out the limelight. In the summer she modelled for an American Eagle fashion campaign, and travelled to Calgary to meet up with Alexander, who continues to work as one of Canada’s top professional dog handlers.
Crandlemire took Miss P to a show at Spruce Meadows in Calgary and Miss P immediately recognized her dog show partner.
“She heard his voice and it was the same as always, she was in dog show mode. She was up on his lap in a second.”
Crandlemire says she recognized Miss P was special right from puppyhood, when she was born in a litter of six.
“There were some nice pups in that litter, but she stood out. She had this personality that wouldn’t quit.”
But Crandlemire credits Alexander with making Miss P a star. He saw her at a show when she was six months old and approached the breeder.
“He convinced us that she had what it takes,” Crandlemire says. “But we had no idea to what level she would reach. I really never dreamed the extent of what she would accomplish. Will really created that, he brought out her potential.”
Folowing the win, there has been a lot of interest in Crandlemire’s Tashtin Kennel beagles, but Crandlemire says she’s a small breeder and isn’t interested in producing any more puppies than she would have before Miss P’s win.
That being said, Miss P is hopefully destined for motherhood in the spring, as Crandlemire would love a puppy from her top-winning canine.
“We would like a Miss P puppy, but you can’t just expect the same. I think she’s a once in a lifetime for a breeder.”
The 2016 Westminster Kennel Club show begins Feb. 15 and 16 in New York City, and plays hosts to hundreds of top-winning representatives of their breed.