Story by Natalie Murphy, Photography by Jessica Turner

Lily Claire, the show dog

This Bichon means business. 

Lily Claire, a Bichon Frise, is a fifth-generation Best in Show competitor. When Nancy Brown adopted Lily Claire, she had never owned a competition dog. But she decided to keep Lily’s legacy going.  

“I never before that moment thought it would be something that would be such an important and meaningful part of our lives,” Brown says.

Tara Rowell trains and presents Lily. The pooch has competed in countless shows, including the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show and Westminster Dog Show. 

“They’ve been to Oregon and Washington and Massachusetts and New York and Florida and everywhere in between,” Brown says. 

Lily Claire competes in conformation shows, where dogs don’t compete with each other. 

“Really, the judge compares each dog to the standard and picks the dog to win the breed they believe best meets the qualifications of the standard,” Brown says.

At last year’s Westminster, Lily won the Best Female Bichon Frise. Her other titles include Multiple Best in Show, Multiple Reserve Best in Show, Multiple Best in Specialty Show and Grand Champion Gold.

“This year, she was invited to come to Westminster because she was in the top five of her breed, so that’s a big honor,” Brown says.

When asked how long it takes for Lily to be competition ready, Brown says it can take around three hours of grooming — more than it takes to get ready herself.

“You know these dogs love being show dogs. They love the attention. They love to perform. They love to succeed, and they love their handlers,” she says.

Away from competition, Lily enjoys normal dog activities like playing with her sister Zibby and hanging out at the Browns’ lake house. She also loves taking trips to Neiman Marcus.

Lily has also modeled and been featured in YouTube videos for the American Heart Association, along with Brown, the company’s CEO. Lily also is an ambassador at events like the Heart Walk.

“We certainly leverage Lily’s beauty and her success to help benefit the American Heart Association,” Brown says.

Story by Alejandra Puente, Photography by Jessica Turner

Twixie, the agility dog

When Twixie Marooroo is out of the ring, she loves to sit in her backyard and chase squirrels. She enjoys walks and meeting up with her fellow Brussels griffons. Twixie recently celebrated her wedding to dog model Cowboy the Griff.

During the pandemic, owner Tara Helwig signed Twixie up for agility classes.

“I kind of started it just for fun because she loves jumping and likes being active. And I was like, ‘Oh, well, maybe we can do agility,’” Helwig says. 

Agility competitions consist of a series of obstacles that include jumps, tunnel runs and teeters. 

Twixie and Helwig, now an Instagram-famous duo, began training classes once a week, then twice a week. Soon practices started taking place at home. 

Twixie and Helwig entered their first competition in August 2021. 

Dog competitions usually seen on TV consist of bigger dogs, but Tara wasn’t discouraged from competing. Instead, the competition motivated her to keep going.

“I feel like people think, ‘Oh, I have a little dog, and I can’t do that.’ But that’s not true. They love it just as much as the big dogs,” Helwig says. “Any breed or size dog can do it.”

 The goal is eventually to compete in a televised agility competition.

“It’s something fun and unique to do with your little buddy, your best friend,” Helwig says.