— It was ruff competition as Truman, the three-legged rescue dog, and his owner Michael Nichols took away the grand prize — a weekend getaway to Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Denver and a photo shoot in the December 3rd issue of US Weekly magazine — for TODAY’s Best in Show competition.
In early November, participants were invited to send in videos of their dogs performing their most skillful, adorable tricks or to share the heartwarming stories of their precious pups. Then four finalists were invited to show off their special talents — including golfing, opera singing and reading — on the TODAY plaza. Smitten by his gentle demeanor and inspiring story of survival, viewers picked Truman.
On December 3rd, Truman, relaxing in Studio 1A, was crowned Best in Show live on TODAY. The winning dog and owner say their lives have already changed, with strangers approaching them to discuss their TODAY appearance. “It’s just amazing,” Michael Nichols said.
Truman was found malnourished and scared, with a bandage wrapped around his leg in an abandoned lot in Kentucky. The bandage was so tight that it severely injured Truman’s leg.
Although Nichols wasn’t looking for a new pet, he was moved by Truman’s spirit; the abused dog wagged his tail and showered his nurse with kisses despite his injuries. The local vet raised enough money to perform a much-needed amputation on Truman’s leg, and four days later, Nichols finally adopted him.
“He is a daily inspiration for me,” Nichols said. “We get stopped all the time because people have to do a double take to see if he really does only have three legs.”
Although Truman is missing a leg, Nichols said the tough pup acts like “he isn’t missing anything.” Like most other pets, Truman still runs, plays, climbs stairs, and chases squirrels.
“If there is ever a day where I feel like I just can't do it, I look at Truman and say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’…. He is a living example that you can overcome your obstacles. He loves life.”
As part of the prize, Truman will enjoy a spa day at the Renaissance Aveda Spa & Salon, including a pampering bath, blueberry facial, a “pawdicure” and a blow dry. Nichols will also enjoy a spa treatment and the two will be treated to a gourmet dinner. “That’s awesome,” Nichols said. “I’m just shocked. I can’t believe it.”
After told of his victory and prize, Nichols couldn’t help but recommend his dog’s kind: “Adopt from shelters, everyone!”