It's a Disney movie come to life.
It goes like this: There's this puppy from the Toledo area and she's left alone when all eight of her brothers and sisters die, most in childbirth. She goes home from the hospital as an infant, weak and tiny and barely alive. She and her mom forge a close relationship when her only surviving brother dies before he's 1 - the poor guy was sickly, but he put up a fight - and their owner is a kindly human who makes sure the surviving puppy has the best care possible.
She grows up to be a happy, fun-loving dog, skilled at agility training, and she's beautiful, a nearly flawless example of an English springer spaniel. In fact, she's so ideal that tomorrow, she'll take the stage at the Westminster Dog Show, vying for a chance to be - cue the inspirational Elton John power ballad - THE GREATEST DOG IN THE COUNTRY.
It's true too. All of it.
Meet Bloomie. She's a 4-year-old English springer spaniel who, through some serious TLC from her principal owner, Laurie Green, survived her mom's problem pregnancy and grew up to show in the prestigious dog show that starts today and continues tomorrow.
Mrs. Green is understandably proud of Bloomie's show-ring accomplishments, but to her she's also a pet.
"She is such a wonderful dog to be with. She lets you know exactly how she feels about everything all the time," she said, her voice brimming with pride. "She's a great dog: loves kids, loves adults, she loves her mother."
Ironically, because Bloomie's a show dog, Mrs. Green hasn't seen much of her lately. The dog has been living with Jody Paquette, her handler and the woman who will parade her around the show ring tomorrow when the sporting group shows. Bloomie will be judged at 3:30 p.m. today among the other English springer spaniels and if she's deemed best of her breed, she'll move on to compete against all the other breeds at night.
(To see if Bloomie advances, go to Toledoblade.com tomorrow afternoon.)
The breed standard for the compact, friendly looking dogs that were bred to flush game out of hiding includes being powerful enough to work in the field and weighing about 35 to 42 pounds without too heavy of a coat. They're active, energetic dogs and Mrs. Green said Bloomie is a typical spaniel.
"You need to keep them busy and give them something to do. They like to work, in the field or agility," she said.
"She is very outgoing, she's an up dog, meaning that she's active. And I do have to tell you that not only is she a show dog, she is trained in agility and she's trained in rally [obedience]."
Mrs. Green has owned English springers since 1984, but she is a small breeder who has only bred about 10 litters over that time. For the Sylvania Township woman, it's more a labor of love than a serious business, although her dogs have won numerous awards over the years.
"I am very selective because I don't have a kennel; the dogs live in my house, so first of all, they have to be a pet and live in the home with the rest of the family," she said.
Bloomie is also owned by Mrs. Green's husband, Dick; Erline Jesseman of New Hampshire; Mary Osbun of Indiana, and Jennifer Kettleson, but she lives with the Greens and her mother, Emmie.
The latter had a difficult pregnancy four years ago that was trouble from the beginning, said her veterinarian, Julie Kalniz of Graber's Animal Hospital on West Laskey Road. The mother had a progesterone deficiency and it is believed that the puppies, including Bloomie, were infected with e. coli, Dr. Kalniz said.
When Bloomie came home from the hospital - she was born during an emergency cesarean section in Cleveland - she looked pathetic, Mrs. Green said, describing the whole thing as "painful, very painful."
"It's been exciting for anyone with any association with Bloomie to see that she went home weighing about 4 ounces and she's gone on to all this success," she said. "She looked like a little gerbil."
Mrs. Green planned to give all the puppies store-themed names (Bloomie is short for Bloomingdale's), but out of the litter of nine, only Bloomie and a male named Nordie survived. Both were infected with e. coli and the latter died when he was about 10 months old. All her life Bloomie has battled bladder and kidney infections, Dr. Kalniz said, noting that Mrs. Green gave her excellent care.
"Anything that needed to be done, Laurie would do it," the veterinarian said. "Bloomie was strong and Laurie did everything that needed to be done."
Last year, the dog - whose official name is Crossroad Crownroyal Miracle - was named the top female English springer spaniel in the country and she has won a number of other honors, including being named the fifth best of her breed in the country. She will compete one more time after Westminster and will then slow down for motherhood (Bloomie will be bred), agility training, and life as a house dog.
Contact Rod Lockwood at