At 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, Sommer and Stump found themselves escorted into a van, along with an entourage of publicists and press, heading off on the already busy city streets for their first TV appearance of the day at "Fox and Friends."
Sommer is no newcomer to the publicity game that is an integral part of handling America’s top dog, as he did it all in 2001 when his Bichons Frise named JR won. Accompanying them was Stump's other owners, Cecelia Ruggles of Redding, Conn., and Beth Dowd of Pinehurst, N.C., and Dowd's daughter, Carol, and her fiancé, Rahmean Kamalbake.
For all concerned, life as they knew was put on hold and plans were changed to assure Stump got his day in the spotlight. Beth Dowd, who runs a senior care service, was busy canceling appointments she had lined up in North Carolina, while her daughter canceled out on fashion designer Vera Wang, who is designing the dress for her September wedding.
With all that out of the way, the two used up cell phone minutes calling family, friends and business associates to inform them of Stump’s TV lineup so that they could tune in at the appropriate times and witness the dog’s success.
Stump’s story is truly a great dog tale, intriguing every interviewer Wednesday. He had overcome an unknown bacteria infection, which had forced him to be hospitalized for 19 days at the veterinary hospital at Texas A&M. Then as quickly as Stump got ill, he recovered.
Since then, he’d been enjoying his retirement, playing with his housemate JR at Sommer's home in Houston and filling his days lounging on the furniture, chewing up his favorite toys and generally living the good life.
On a whim, Sommer decided to bring Stump out of retirement for the 2009 show, not entering him in any previous shows.
“I didn’t have to prepare him,” Sommer said. “The dog is in fabulous shape. Further because there was no build-up to the event, when we went on to the green carpet, it was just like going for a walk with my pet.”
While Scott spoke quietly, patiently answering questions, Stump quickly got the hang of TV attention and jumped on the couch, making it very clear that he’d like some water. Out of nowhere, minions arrived to attend to his request, and he lapped up both the water and the hands-on attention.
The green room was a hive of activity, as Victoria Secret’s models sat around waiting to show off the latest Valentine underwear and comedian Gilbert Gottfried was getting ready to entertain the live studio audience. Jessica Simpson was also making an appearance, but Stump couldn’t have cared less.
“I never thought it would be like this,” Carol Dowd said. “I am enjoying every single moment of it. This is such fun.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
At Grand Central Station, the next destination, a barrage of cameras and lights greeted Stump as TV networks had set up a mini-studio.
While David Frei and Sommer got miked up and had their noses powdered, Stump just sat there chilling, obviously enjoying the attention.
“He is a really great dog to carry on the Westminster tradition,” Frei said. “He is such a perfect specimen of his breed best described as being long, level and low. And he has such a lovable personality. He is going to be hugely popular.”
Westminster Dog Show scenes
Take a visual tour of the preparations and competition for the 133rd annual Westminster Dog Show.
Take a look at some past Best in Show winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.