Champion J Luvs Schoolhouse Doodlebug, the Rim country's claim to canine fame, will likely compete on Animal Planet this weekend -- and viewers can vote right along with the judges.
The unpretentious wirehaired dachshund, who prefers to be called Doodle, will be competing in the AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship. Viewers who watch the competition at 8 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, need to visit animalplanet.com and click on Iams Viewers' Choice Awards when host Ron Reagan gives the order.
Doodle and trainer John Mayhall, a Pine Realtor, boarded a flight to Tampa this morning. The competition will be shown live on Animal Planet, but Doodle must qualify first to make the television portion.
"It is the American Kennel Club's invitational show," Mayhall said. "Only the top 25 dogs in each breed are invited. We have to win the variety before we can go and be seen on TV at night."
Based on his past accomplishments, Doodle's chances are excellent. He was the subject of a front page Roundup story in February of last year when he waddled away with best of breed honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
"That is the most prestigious win in the United States," Mayhall said.
But in the two years Doodle has been seriously shown, he has also won four all-breed best-in-shows, the Inland Empire Hound Club Show two consecutive years in 2003 and 2004, and 23 specialty best-in-shows.
"Most short-legged dogs don't get recognized for best-in-show," Mayhall said. "I'd shown professionally for 30 years and had a lot of winning dogs, but I never had an all-breed best-in-show until I got this dog."
But time is running out on the 6-year-old champion. When he turns 7, Mayhall plans to show Doodle with other "older" dogs.
Mayhall still plans to enter Doodle in some 50 competitions a year.
During a recent visit to the Roundup, Doodle was outgoing and friendly. But there's a little prima donna in every celebrity, and this one is no exception.
While Doodle lives and sleeps with Mayhall, the routine has to change the night before a show.
"He actually gets to sleep in a bed at night, except when we're in a motel on show nights," Mayhall said. "Then he has to sleep in his crate, because otherwise he acts up the next day. He's spoiled and he's, like, ‘Let's not go through this, all right.'"
Mayhall was a firefighter for 29 years. His competitive nature got him into dog handling -- first with Dobermans, then Rhodesian ridgebacks, and now with dachshunds like Doodle.