He is well on his way to becoming a champion show dog and sports the gorgeous, impeccably groomed coat and bearing that epitomize canine royalty. Still, the bottom line for Kilkenny’s Handsome Hound — better known as Murphy — is the same as for any other dog: There are times when he needs to have that bottom wiped. And “showtime” is certainly one of those times.

This somewhat undignified ritual was a necessary part of getting the 19-month-old Irish Setter ready for his turn in the ring at the National Dog Show in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, on November 15. But for Murphy’s proud owner, Arline Hughes of Douglasville, Pennsylvania, having to deal with her dog’s back end was well worth the thrill of going to the show.

“When Murphy’s there in the ring, it feels like you’re seeing your kids in a soccer game or a school concert,” Hughes says. “You get the same jumpy feeling in your tummy, and you feel so proud.”

Getting Murphy into the ring involved extensive preparation. “I comb his coat every night,” Hughes says. “And I give him a bath once a week, and haircuts whenever he needs them. Also, he runs on our three-acre lot all day long so that he gets enough exercise.” Despite such exercise, however, Murphy is still on the hyper side, so Hughes has enrolled both him and herself in obedience classes.

Murphy is by no means the only dog that requires extensive grooming before heading into the ring. For Egan, a four-year-old Tibetan Terrier whose formal name is Atisha’s Eternal Fire, the pre-show ritual takes two and a half hours. According to René Stamm, who grooms Egan before show time, Egan submits to a bath, a blow-dry and extensive brushing before having his moment of glory. His owners are Lori J. Toth of Mason Neck, Virginia, and Mark Stamm of Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

You can learn more about the many dogs entered in the 2003 National Dog Show by watching the NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Day, immediately after the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you can’t wait until then to find out the results, log on to the official National Dog Show website Article written by Author: Susan McCullough

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