'America's Top Dog' to rock the runway and support women's heart health

fluffy white dog

Praising dogs as just a man’s best friend will be completely out of fashion this week when “America’s Top Dog” takes the runway to bring awareness to women’s heart health.

Flynn, Best in Show at last year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, is representing all of the nation’s dogs by sharing the spotlight with about 20 beautiful human models at the kickoff to New York’s Fashion Week. "Pets tug at our heartstrings, but they also can improve our heart health,” said American Heart Association Chief Executive Nancy Brown. “We are so honored to have Flynn walk the runway in this year’s fashion show because it brings to life how all pets can encourage us to live longer, happier and healthier lives.”

The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2019 is an annual fashion show that amplifies the impact that cardiovascular diseases have on women, killing more than 410,000 women in 2016.

Taking up his role as woman’s best friend, Flynn will help highlight how heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women. The beautifully coiffed bichon frisé with powder-puff white fur, will strut the red carpet in a checkered bowtie, joining the models in red dresses.

“Flynn is part of the show, but not as a fashion accessory,” said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications at Westminster. “He represents all dogs that help reduce stress levels, improve well-being and all of those things we know are proven positive to human health.”

Studies have shown pets can help improve their owners’ health by increasing fitness levels, relieving stress, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and boosting overall happiness and well-being. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and other pets often help people improve their health or recover, physically and psychologically, from their ailments. The idea isn’t new. 

Reports of animals comforting humans date back centuries. In 1859, the famed nurse Florence Nightingale wrote, “A small pet animal is often an excellent companion for the sick.” Sigmund Freud reported that patients were more willing to talk when his dog Jo-Fi sat in on psychotherapy sessions. Research on animal-assisted therapy dates back to the 1960s, as well.

“Dogs are such a big thing in improving health. I think we’ll continue to see research backing that up,” said Bisher.

After walking the runway to bring awareness for women’s heart health, the 6-year-old Flynn will next head across the city to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where he will make a guest appearance. The show’s events start on Saturday.