Just a year after winning best in show at Crufts, Miami the American cocker spaniel is almost unrecognisable. For his owner, Jason Lynn, has retired him and Miami no longer sports his glossy prize-winning coat.
Nowadays the 2017 champion spends his days running around the beach at Blackpool getting filthy – the perfect retirement for a pooch who used to spend eight hours a week being bathed, dried, groomed, clipped and generally pampered.
Jason says, “We always allow our dogs to run around having fun and getting dirty, even when they’re competing, and Miami has always loved to run into the sea and get sandy and salty. But now he can come home and be quickly blasted dry and it’s no big deal.”
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Miami was just under two years old when he was crowned top dog and, although Jason knew he was special, he didn’t think he could win, having competed only nine times in his life.
“Most dogs that win Crufts are much more established – Miami was very much the new kid on the block. I thought if we won best in group, that would be an amazing result and he would have a promising year ahead of him.
“So when he won best in show it was beyond my wildest dreams. But it was also kind of bittersweet because it meant the end of his career. There was nowhere else for him to go.”
Jason did decide to enter Miami into one last competition, however, to prove that his Crufts win wasn’t a fluke. At the World Show in Germany, which was slightly bigger than Crufts with 24,000 dogs competing, Miami won the categories for his breed and group, and came fourth overall.
“He did a great job, and then we took him home and clipped his coat off and retired him,” says Jason.
Miami – officially Afterglow Miami Ink – has now fathered four puppies. His daughter Paris is competing at Crufts this year, and his son London is also showing promise. So Miami will be a stud for several years to come, with Jason shipping batches of the dog’s frozen semen to known and trusted American cocker breeders all over the world.
But mainly Miami’s a much adored family pet and he will stay at the kennels near Blackpool run by Jason and his partner Michael Gadsby, along with other members of Miami’s family.
“Occasionally we might place some of our older dogs with someone we know, but Miami will stay here for his lifetime,” says Jason. “Right from the moment he was born, he made people sit up and notice, although if I tell people he won Crufts, when he’s there covered in sand or mud, they do look at me like I’m a little crazy.”
Crufts is on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th March. It airs on More4 both nights from 6.30pm and on Channel 4 from 8pm on Thursday and 7.30pm on Friday. Crufts Extra is on Wednesday-Friday at 3pm on Channel 4