HOLDEN, Maine — The little puppy in Rebecca Henderson’s first litter of papillons was such a flirt that she decided to train him as a show dog. Now that flirting is paying off.

LB ;-), short for “Little Boy, wink,” has been invited to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York and the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham, England, two of the most prestigious pedigreed canine competitions in the world.

“He is pretty amazing. He’s a natural showman, and he absolutely loves it,” said Henderson, who rescued LB’s mother about seven years ago and fell in love with the breed. “He likes to interact with other people. He doesn’t have an off day.”

LB’s fur is white and brown, with dark-brown hair on his ears that makes the signature papillon shape of a butterfly. He seemed to float instead of walk Wednesday as he pranced around inside Renaissance Dogs, a boarding, day care and training center.

“He is first and foremost my pet,” said Henderson, who opened the doggie day care on Main Road a decade ago. “He just likes to show.”

LB qualified to enter Westminster by winning Grand Championships at American Kennel Club-sanctioned competitions over the past year in the U.S. and Canada, and the British Kennel Club invited Henderson to enter LB after he won four Group Firsts and a Reserve Best in Show at the Bermuda Kennel Club Show.

The Westminster dog show, founded in 1884, is the largest dog show in North America. The individual breed judging is Feb. 11-12 in New York, with Best in Group competitions scheduled for Feb. 13-14.

Crufts, founded in 1891, is considered the largest dog show in the world by Guinness World Records. Judging at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham will take place March 9-12.

Westminster and Crufts are benched shows, which means the dogs are kept in crates in backstage areas for public inspection while they are groomed and prepped, Henderson said.

“It’s one of those old traditions,” she explained, adding that years ago people would go to dog shows to pick out their future pets.

At Westminster, LB will go up against 22 other papillons, and at Crufts there will be 260 papillons, Henderson said.

“We’re hoping we’ll get the underdog vote,” she said with a sly smile.

For Henderson, who got into showing dogs in an effort to build up her reputation as a breeder, the drive of the competition is another factor that keeps her involved.

“I wanted people to know I’m not just going to pump out puppies,” she said. “It’s a close-knit group of papillon owners in New England, and I happened to find them at the shows. Because I’ve had success, it’s helped legitimize the breeding. He’s beaten some of the top dogs in the country.”

In fact, all but two of LB’s seven sisters are show dogs.

The decision to go to England for the Crufts competition was made when Henderson found round-trip airplane tickets for around $500.

“I’m just a normal person,” she said.

To the casual onlooker, it may appear that dog shows are just beauty contests, but that is not the case, the dog owner said, explaining that each breed has an official set of standards for which they are judged.

“It’s subjective judging based on the standards,” Henderson said. “I think he’s perfect. But every day is different, and every judge is different.”

Because LB loves to be in the ring showing off, he always seems to have this flirty way about him.

“He always looks at the judge and gives an eye twinkle,” Henderson said. “The attitude really helps a lot in the show ring.”