Little Dog With A Big Attitude

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Unless you're madly in love, you might want to spend Valentine's Day evening glued to your TV.

That's when Champion J Luvs Schoolhouse Doodlebug, arguably the Rim Country's most famous resident, goes for his third straight best of breed at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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Doodle, the little wirehaired dachshund with the big attitude, winds down his storied career by going for his third best of breed at Westminster on Valentine's night.

This will be the last appearance at Westminster for the seven-year-old wirehaired dachshund from Pine, who prefers to be called Doodle. He is retiring from competition in April.

But co-owner John Mayhall, who also lives in Pine, says Doodle will never be forgotten, especially if he wins his third best of breed at Westminster.

"I don't think that's ever been done," Mayhall said.

In three years of competition, Doodle has won just about everything there is to win.

"Last year, not only did we win the breed at the Garden, but right before the Garden there's two of the oldest and largest specialties in the United States," he said. "A specialty is nothing but one breed.

"Doodle won best of show at both of those. He's won almost every specialty in the West and Southwest.

"They have what they call challenge trophies and they have to be won three times by the same dog. Doodle has retired trophies that have been standing in these clubs 30 or 40 years.

"Doodle has nothing to prove. He's won about everything there is.

"He will go down in history as the winningest wirehair. He's won multiple best of shows and 46 specialties.

"He just rarely gets beaten. He's such an exceptional animal."

And once he retires, Doodle will continue to lead the life to which he has become accustomed.

"He always has (led the good life)," Mayhall said. "He's been my bed dog for four years; he's just my best friend.

"One of the funniest things he does is he waits until my alarm clock goes off in the morning and then I get a face full of wirehair. But he won't do it until the alarm goes off.

"I have awakened and looked straight up and I have a wire hair just waiting in my face for that alarm clock to go off. He knows when it's time."

And Doodle will continue to accompany Mayhall to shows.

"Once a special (dog show slang for a champion) like that retires, we call them truck dogs," he said. "They become the dog that goes with us to the shows in our trucks, our motor homes."

With Doodle in tow, Mayhall will be showing a new dog.

"There's three varieties of dachshund -- long, smooth and wire," he said. "I picked up a new longhair dog a year ago."

That would be Champion Mis Tee King Aragorn Returns, a three-year-old whom Mayhall calls Ari. In his first year of competition, Ari finished in the top 10 for his breed -- a phenomenal beginning, but he's got a ways to go to catch Doodle.

"Anytime I showed up at a show with Doodle, he was pretty formidable," Mayhall said. "Everybody went, ‘Uh oh, the wire dachshund's here. "The young dog (co-owned by Kim Jensen of Garden Grove, Calif.) is not going to be that way just yet, but he's coming."

Doodle and Ari are friends, although not quite best friends.

"The longhair personality is completely different than a wirehair," Mayhall said. "Wirehairs are clowns; longhairs are very loving. In fact, when Ari's here he sleeps on my pillow wrapped around my neck.

"One night I was sitting in the recliner, and Ari was sleeping in my lap. Doodle came up and started messing around with my leg.

"Ari woke up and went flying off my lap, landed on Doodle and started eating him.

"You've got this young dog vs the old dog thing. The two boys square off like the young bull elk and the old bull elk, but, really, they get along great."

The Westminster show runs two days, beginning Feb. 13. USA Network will carry it live beginning at 8 p.m. New York time, but check your local listings because another network may carry it tape delayed as well.

One thing you can count on: Doodle will do the Rim Country proud.

"In three years of showing and a little over 300 shows, he's never, ever woke up in the morning and said, ‘Dad, I don't want to do this today,'" Mayhall said. "Never."

"He's given me trouble just acting like Doodle, when he thinks he can show himself better than I can. But he's never given me a bad day.

"I've had people come up to me and say it's going to be a shame not to see Doodle in the ring anymore, because he puts on quite a show with his attitude."

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