Two years ago, when the Executive Vice President of business operations for the Los Angeles Lakers set out in search of the perfect pooch, she wanted it to be more than a choice or even an instinct. It had to be fate. And fate it was, according to Buss, that she would find an eligible canine companion who could keep up with the demands of her fast-paced career and delight in the world of pro-basketball: “I knew I wanted a dog for about a year. I had no idea what breed I wanted but I just put the word out there to as many people as possible. I knew that my dog would find me.”
Buss discovered that her nephew’s friend’s mother happened to be a dog breeder, and was desperately looking for a home for a Maltese puppy. The veteran sports promoter and femme d’affaires extraordinaire admits, “It was love at first sight for both of us.” Slipping into her new role as doting mommy, Buss looked for a name that was as special as the pup, herself. Upon settling on “Princess” for the pooch’s somewhat regal attributes, Buss admitted that the name didn’t quite reflect her completely. “My boyfriend said that “Princess” was not tough enough and he started calling her Cujo, as in the Stephen King thriller about the crazed dog.” Thus, the double-name “Princess Cujo” was spawned, and Buss was ultimately satisfied. “I have to say her personality reflects both names!” she exclaims.
Princess Cujo was born into sports royalty; Jeanie Buss grew up in Hollywood as the third child of sports tycoon, Jerry Buss. While she was studying business at the University of Southern California, her father delegated his authority as head of the Los Angeles Strings of World Team Tennis to her. At just 19 years old , Buss was precocious and unswerving, and showed great promise in the position, bringing the team to two league championships. She went on to take over franchises in professional roller hockey and indoor soccer, promoting concerts and various sports events on the side. Today, she is one of the highest ranked individuals in professional sports management and nonetheless manages to maintain a sweet and spunky demeanor despite her high-stress, high-profile position. She also happens to be a beautiful woman who loves to pamper her pet and will do anything to keep her out of harm’s way. Although, while traveling, there have been a couple of close calls!
Buss recounts one such instance: “I took Cujo on her first airplane trip to Montana to visit my boyfriend [L.A. Lakers coach Phil Jackson] at his remote cabin on a beautiful lake. I told him that I would not take her anywhere there might be bears or other wildlife that could harm her. [That would be] simply out of the question because I was a good mom and I was not ever going to let anything harm a hair on her head. So one day we were out playing by the lake and my boyfriend comes yelling out of the house, ‘PICK HER UP!’ I’m thinking, ‘He is so mean. She is having fun and not hurting his beautiful landscaping.’ He’s screaming, ‘PICK HER UP!’ And I am like, ‘Whatever,’ and I pick her up and he starts pointing to the sky. Well, there was a hawk circling, thinking my little princess was a bunny rabbit. If it had swooped down and taken her, I don’t think I would have ever recovered. Here I was thinking I was such a good mom…”
Princess Cujo is a sophisticated, jet-setting two-year-old Maltese beauty with a bit of an edge. She enjoys walks on the beach, and her twelve doggie beds that her mom placed around the house for her. “I always want her to know she has her own special place no matter where we are in the house,” Buss says. Princess Cujo is also a first-class schmoozer, having had lots of practice cuddling up to pro-athletes. She has been in the arms of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, and, of course, loves to snuggle with coach Phil Jackson, who is like a father to her. Though Princess Cujo is currently single, potential suitors have some big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively! For now, Princess Cujo’s heart belongs to mom, sports mogul Jeanie Buss—and rightly so!
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