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The Bark of a Champion

Q: So, Stump—you'd been retired for five years, but your handler showed you because you "look great." What's your secret?

I'm all natural. No Botox for the Stumpster. No jowl lifts or steroids or canine growth hormone. I eat right and take care of my coat. Ten is the new five in dog years.

Q: You have such great ears.

They swoosh around when I run. There's a shot of me at Westminster where I look like Fabio. [Laughs.]

Q: You nearly died from a bacterial infection. How hard was that?

The infection was in my heart valves, and I also had pulmonary edema. It definitely changes your perspective. [Stops to lick himself.] I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald, or maybe Benji, who said, "Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."

Q: Were you worried about competing again?

Don't forget: I won 50 competitions in 2003. Remember when George Foreman won the heavyweight title at age 44? That's me. I'm a four-legged Foreman.

Q: So many dog-show fans raved about your personality and charisma.

It's part of being a Sussex spaniel. We're known for our cheerfulness. Big ears and big personality. [Laughs.] It's hard to define star quality, but I just have this presence, you know? So when I walk into a room, or if I'm on stage, everyone goes, "Whoa—who is that?" Oprah, Obama, Bono…Stump. I'm in that same category. I'm like a really hairy Brad Pitt. [Laughs, licks interviewer.]

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