As befits any aristocrat, Ladybug’s official name is a mouthful: Grand Champion Aviator’s Luck Be a Lady. She’s the top Portuguese water dog in the country right now, having just won Best of Breed and Best of Group at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Manhattan last February. She’s retired from the ring after her wins at Westminster and is awaiting the birth of her first litter at home in Shingle Springs, with her “human parents,” Mike and Cathy Dugan, owners and operators of Aviator Kennels. With a little translation help from the Dugans, Ladybug took the time to answer some questions about life as a champion.
Did you always want to be a champion, or did you have another puppyhood dream?
My human mom, Cathy, tells me that when I was only 4 weeks old I demanded full attention from her and would not be denied. I remember thinking that I was special even as a little puppy, pushing my brothers and sisters out of the way. I looked at my doggie dad, Anchor, and saw how big and handsome he was, and my beautiful doggie mom, Olivia, and when I saw them competing in the ring, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a show dog, a grand champion, the best ever!
Tell us about your training regimen.
My favorite time is running on the treadmill, so I can watch my favorite shows on Animal Planet. I really like the shows with the cute police dogs; they’re really studs. I also like to run with my little pals at my trainer Amy’s house. They’re smooth fox terriers, but I can run as fast as they can.
I love the time being groomed before a show, so I can sit up on the groomer table and watch all my competition getting ready to lose. I’m the only dog who is not tied up on the table, because I know what my job is and would never do a “dumb dog” thing like jumping off the table.
Dish on Westminster: What did you like best about the oldest, biggest dog show in the U.S.?
My first Westminster show was three years ago, when I was only 2. I’ve been to a lot of big shows, but Madison Square Garden is really the best, because everyone there is already a big champion. And the crowds! I love the spotlight and the crowds cheering for me.
I’ve won the Best of Breed three straight times now, and the other Porties growl a little bit under their breath because I win so much. I told them to knock it off or I’d tell people that certain dogs had been dyed! This year there was a lot of happy yapping when I told the other dogs I was going to retire! … This year, I met a handsome boy named Pele—but more about him later.
I understand you received congratulations from the first dog.
When I got back from then Garden, there was this great email from Bo Obama for me, with a little rap song attached to it. He was very impressed and said I looked hot on TV; I think he’s pretty cute, too.
Is it a good thing to have a Portuguese water dog in the White House?
My owners had to explain to me what a White House is, but I think Bo being there is a good thing. Fewer people mistake me on the street for a poodle—I really hate that! Now people know what a Portuguese water dog is, and many know who I am.
Any advice for wannabe champions?
You’ve either got it or you don’t. The first time I walked into a show ring, I put my head and tail up and flew around that ring; the handler could barely keep up. If you want to be a champion, you’ve got to be willing to be away from home a lot and learn to be on the road. I was in 400 shows in three years, and never got tired of the excitement. My last big win at Westminster was as fun as my first one at a little show in California. Judges always told me they could tell that I loved to show off. My best trick was when I would jump straight up in the air and plant a four-paw stack in front of the judges. They went for it every time, particularly when Amy told them I taught myself to do that—she didn’t!
Any beauty secrets to share?
I have beautiful soft hair, and I take care of it with special shampoos and lotions to keep my curly hair just so. PWDs have hair instead of fur—really, what kind of dogs have fur? We’re much closer to being people than dogs, you know. The biggest secret is being brushed frequently; it feels good and it keeps my hair really clean and shiny.
I wish people would brush their own dogs more; the world would be a better place.
We hear you’re expecting. Congratulations!
Yes, as soon as I got back from New York, I came into season. I’d met Pele before; he was my runner-up at Westminster and other shows, and I thought he was very handsome. He reminded me a lot of my dad, Anchor. I took a special trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, and the rest is doggy history. It was very exciting once he figured out what he was supposed to do.
I’ve already been to the vet, and I have at least seven puppies and am supposed to deliver around May 1. I can hardly wait.
Kibbles or bits?
Paw-leeze! Premium food only, and a little table food now and then.