He was the cream of the crop on the nation's biggest stage. Stump the dog's win at the Westminster Show earlier this month was remarkable on a number of fronts, not the least of which was that he nearly died.
Wednesday, Stump returned to the place his life was saved: Texas A&M.
When the nation's top dog visits, people take notice. Dozens packed a room in the College of Veterinary Medicine at A&M to see the champ return.
Stump's a Westminster winner in body and spirit, personable to all, never camera shy. If he could sign an autograph, he probably would. Whether he'd sign "Stump" or his full name is another story.
"Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee," read Richard Adams, the dean of the vet school, from a plaque. "No wonder you call him Stump."
That plaque went to handler Scott Sommers. He's had Stump since the Sussex Spaniel was two. Just a couple years later, Stump was at A&M on his doggie death bed.
"I don't even know what he had," Sommers said. "I couldn't even tell you what it's called."
D'Lisa Ryland knows. The vet tech worked closely with Stump during his stay.
"He was diagnosed with endocarditis," she said, "and there are a lot of diagnostic tests that go along with narrowing down that diagnosis, and it requires a lot of treatment with antibiotics."
But for a time, the dog that had competed 170 times in the year prior to his Aggieland admittance and had 50 best in show wins in his career didn't look like he'd leave A&M alive.
"We said we'd give him 24 hours," Sommers said, "and in those 24 hours, he changed just enough to make everyone want to keep trying."
Now healthy, his A&M recovery only adds to this underdog champ's story.
"He's much more energetic and much happier now than he was here," said Katherine Snyder with the vet school.
After A&M, this once decorated champ was just another dog, one that hadn't worn a show leash since his time in College Station. But the owners of Stump and Sommers talked about one last show, just so they could see their dog in action again like old times.
On a whim, Stump -- a former group winner at Westminster -- won it all.
"That's the thing that blew us all away," Sommers said. "He's never going to another dog show. That's it. He's done."
And that peak wouldn't have been possible without A&M pulling him out of a valley.
This wasn't Stump's first return to A&M since the life-saving treatment he got back in 2004. He's had a few check-ups at the Vet school in the years since, and has gotten thumbs up from the staff each time.
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