Editor’s note: This article first published in the Fall 2022 issue of Beyond the Meeting Room, ALHI’s printed magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication focused on sharing compelling, inspirational and educational stories from beyond the four walls of a meeting room. The 2023 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show just concluded.
In this dog-eat-dog world, one special canine rose above the pack in June 2022. Illinois-born and bred Trumpet became the first bloodhound in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s 146-year history to take home Best in Show.
The field included more than 3,500 canine contestants and 200 breeds. Trumpet bested this year’s favorite—San Diego Chargers’ defensive lineman Morgan Fox’s French bulldog, Winston, who took home Reserve Best in Show. But Winston was no match for Trumpet’s perfectly wrinkled forehead, 4-year-old toned body and confident stature, not to mention his well-endowed flopping ears.
Trumpet is owned by Chris and Bryan Flessner and Heather Helmer, who has trained him since he started competing at 10 months. The bloodhound comes from a lineage of winning hounds. Trumpet’s father, Nathan, became the first bloodhound to win the hound group at Westminster in 2014. His great-grandfather, Tigger, at one time held the Guinness World Record for longest ears on a living dog, measuring 13.75 inches for his right ear and 13.5 inches for his left. Tigger won many show titles and over 180 Best of Breed awards.
Here’s our interview with Trumpet.
Beyond: What does it feel like to be the first bloodhound to win this prestigious award?
Trumpet: I was definitely excited! I love all the attention. My all-time favorite experience was the children. They have peewee competitions at dog shows for kids 9 and under. I sat through press photos and then gave them kisses.
I loved every minute!
Beyond: Were there other dogs that you thought would win?
Trumpet: There was so much competition. There was a fluffy white Maltese that was super cute. I had my eyes on the French bulldog with its cute little ears and smiley face. There was the big white fluffy Samoyed that has done a ton of winning.
Beyond: How did you keep your focus running in the ring?
Trumpet: I kept my focus because of all of the applause. I thought, don’t be nervous, put a smile on your face and keep running. One judge said he liked me because I walked out on my leash into all four feet and stared at him. I knew what to do. I have to have good feet because bloodhounds need to go miles sometimes to find lost people.
Beyond: What else about you caught the judges’ eyes?
Trumpet: I think the judges like my skin and all my rolls and wrinkles and my ears that feel like wet blankets. The wrinkles serve a purpose. When I am mantrailing, I put my head down to the ground so my nose can find the scent. My ears sweep the ground and push the scent into my nose, and my wrinkles hold the scent. I drool a lot because having a wet mouth keeps the scent fresher. So, everything on my head has a huge purpose to find people.
Beyond: How much time did you spend preparing the night of the show?
Trumpet: I had three days of showing. Monday was the Best of Breed competition. Then, all of us Best of Breed winners showed the next day for our groups. Then Wednesday at 10:30 at night my mom said, “Trumpet you have to wake up. We have to go to the largest dog show of the year in about a half an hour.” So, I got my bath, and she used some baby oil on my nose to make it all shiny. I strutted my stuff up to the building and I kept on strutting it all night long.
Beyond: What has life been like since winning Best in Show?
Trumpet: So much to do. I have to get weekly baths and get my ears cleaned because long ears can get ear infections. I get my nails done, and then I’m in the van traveling to a show. I never know where we’re going.
Beyond: Do you get the royal treatment?
Trumpet: Yes! I met Jep from Duck Dynasty on Fox & Friends and sat right on his foot and leaned in for a selfie. I love Maya Rudolph; I held her hand with my paw and gave her a kiss on the Today Show. I got to eat steak on a silver platter at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. But my favorite was the Empire State Building. We went up 85 floors in 15 seconds and I was at the top of New York City.
Beyond: Even as a celebrity do you still get in trouble?
Trumpet: Yes! I’m a farm boy, so I would rather play in a mudhole and roughhouse with other dogs, especially my brother Bugle, rather than get dressed up and be prim and proper. My mom says I’m one of the stubbornest bloodhounds she has ever laid her hands on.
Beyond: What advice would you give other dogs?
Trumpet: Always bring your A game. If you win you get extra cookies and people actually mail you bones and toys. And if you don’t win there’s always next year. I won’t go next year. Once you’ve won the biggest show, you don’t go back.