DES MOINES, Iowa — Lucey is a slobbering 18-month-old pooch whose human family dreams of making her a therapy dog.
Winning a pageant before her second birthday should boost the Iowa bulldog’s hopes of joining owner Dr. Tiffany Torstenson in the health care industry.
Lucey beat out 49 drooling competitors Monday to take this year’s “Beautiful Bulldog” pageant, a tongue-in-cheek event designed to kick off the weeklong Drake Relays, an internationally renowned track and field meet in Des Moines.
“She’s just very calm and she loves people,” Torstenson, of Waukee, Iowa, said. “She loves the attention.”
Torstenson, a breast surgeon at the Mercy Katzmann Breast Center, she said she often takes Lucey to work. Lucey’s demeanor around doctors and patients helped convince her human family that she’d make a perfect therapy dog, and she will soon start training to become one.
Lucey was certainly a hit with the crowd at Drake’s Knapp Center, besting a pair of boys named Lord Nelson and Zuul, to capture top honors.
“She’s is very docile and she doesn’t get really excited,” Torstenson said. “Every room we go into, she’s in that room. She likes to sleep in the bed, and hog the bed. And she loves cheese.”
Monday marked the 35th anniversary of the Beautiful Bulldog event, which was started in 1979 in an effort to find a real dog to represent the school’s mascot, the Bulldogs.
The pageant is meant to honor English Bulldogs and all the slovenly traits that have endeared the breed to so many. The event has become so popular in recent years that a lottery was needed to winnow the field from over 100 bulldogs down to 50.
Competitors from as far away as South Dakota and Kansas made the trip to Des Moines to find out which pup would be voted the prettiest.
Costumes and props are strongly encouraged, and a dog named Capone from Center Point, Iowa, got the crowd going by taking part of his turn on the catwalk on a skateboard. The runner-up, Zuul, was named after a character in the iconic ‘80s film “Ghostbusters,” and he and his dad, Dan Phelps of Marengo, Iowa, wore costumes inspired by the movie.
But no one could touch the simple pink tutu and award-winning smile of Lucey, whose reign will last until next year’s pageant.
Lucey received a crown, a cape and a cake for winning the event, and she’ll be feted at Drake Stadium later this week.
“She’s good with kids. She’s good with adults. She’s just been a great dog,” said Lucey’s owner, Toby Torstenson.