This much is known: Thendara Satisfaction placed second in his category in a preliminary competition at a prestigious setting in Birmingham, England. He then returned home to Belgium, where he died last Friday.
The dog's owners say there was "no doubt" the Irish setter better known as Jagger was "maliciously poisoned" at Crufts, Britain's top dog show, after eating cubes of beef laced with slug killer. They say the only time the 3-year-old was unattended was during public viewing — but they say it's unlikely to have been another competitor at the show.
Jeremy Bott, a co-owner, said he believed that whoever targeted Jagger might have nursed "a grudge against dogs or the Crufts show." His wife, Dee Milligan-Bott, told BBC Radio 5 live that the family was devastated.
"He was a typical Irish setter, totally trustworthy and so loved," she said.
She added: "I don't believe in my heart of hearts that this was another competitor or anyone involved in the dog world. I can only imagine that it was a random act that somebody premeditated and wanted to cause total distress at the best dog show in the world."
The Associated Press adds that Milligan-Bott, in an article in Dog World, "suggested the real target of the attack could have been another dog she owns, Thendara Pot Noodle. That dog won the 'Best of Breed' title at Crufts, while Jagger finished second in a preliminary competition."
Aleksandra Lauwers, another co-owner, with whom Jagger lived, posted on Facebook: "He loved man and he has been killed by a man!" She posted pictures of Jagger at a local retirement home where he worked as a therapy dog for the elderly.
"To person who has done it, hope you can sleep well knowing you have killed our love, family member and best friend to our son," Lauwers wrote.
The AP adds that U.K. and Belgian police are aware of the incident, but said they haven't been asked to investigate.
The Kennel Club, which organizes Crufts, said it will decide on what to do once it sees a toxicology report on Jagger's death. And Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that the club is also looking into reports that other dogs may have been poisoned at Crufts.
"As with any international competition rumours of sabotage do occasionally surface," the Kennel Club statement said. "This of course is not in the spirit of competition and will not be tolerated."