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Rachel Smith and King the dog walk the runway at The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2020 at Hammerstein Ballroom on February 5, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for American Heart Association )

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death among women, but could pets be part of the solution? A recent study by the American Heart Association finds that dog ownership is associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors and a 27 percent reduced risk of death for stroke survivors.

To represent the important role dogs play in heart health, Westminster’s 2019 Best in Show winner, King, walked the runway at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection event on Feb. 5.  

King, a Wire Fox Terrier, was escorted down the runway by Rachel Smith, an American actress, TV host, model, and dog lover.

This is the second year a four-legged model has strutted his stuff to educate about the importance of heart health. Last year, Flynn the Bichon Frise took center stage.

Not a Fashion Accessory

Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, emphasizes King was not part of the show as a fashion accessory. King was chosen to participate in order to represent the ways dogs help reduce stress and improve human health.

“King will appear not as a fashion accessory, but as a representative for all dogs who help increase fitness levels, relieve stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and boost overall happiness and wellbeing for women worldwide,” she says.

What’s next for King’s handler, Gabriel Rangel? At this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, he will be handling more than a dozen different dogs. But King, he says, will always be the best dog in the country, even after a new champion is named.