I had the opportunity recently to chat with Christy Shepler, who is the owner of "Peerless I Am The Love Bug," the No. 2 ranked Bullmastiff in the country. Nicknamed "Bugs," this grand-looking Bullmastiff will be competing in this year's prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Feb. 14 and 15 at Madison Square Garden.
"The Bullmastiff," as described by the AKC, "is a strong and powerfully built animal that possesses great intelligence and a willingness to please, making them ideal family companions and protectors. Although large, the breed remains both agile and active and is successful in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, carting and therapy work. The Bullmastiff's coat may be red, fawn or brindle."
Q: What do you like most about the Bullmastiff breed?
Shepler: I honestly don't know what's not to like. I love that this breed is a nice large dog with substance yet such a mush face. They are so good with children and families. A kid couldn't ask for a better best friend.
Q: I understand a dog has to be invited to the Westminster Show. How does that work?
Shepler: A dog has to be a champion to attend. Only the top five dogs in each breed are invited to compete. "Bugs" is the No. 2 Bullmastiff in Breed with limited showing under his handler Cathy Martin. He is a Best in Specialty Show, Group Winner and Multiple Group Placer. He also holds Canadian & International Championship titles. This is "Bugs'" first time at Westminster. He will be 4 on May 20th of this year.
Q: Because "Bugs" is such a large dog, I have to ask, how much food does he get fed daily?
Shepler: When "Bugs" is in training, he gets 4 cups of food in the morning and 4 cups of food in the evening. Training requires a lot more energy than when he's just sitting around the house. When he's not in training, he gets 2 cups of food in the morning and 2 cups in the evening. He also loves pizza! He's not interested in any other people food, just pizza.
Q: What is "Bugs'" average day like?
Shepler: "Bugs" is just like any other dog when he is home. He eats, he sleeps and he plays. He jumps at the sound of the diesel engine to greet the school bus every afternoon to claim his kids. He's the highlight of all the children on their way home from school. In training, his typical day consists of breakfast and a morning run with his handler, usually a couple of miles, then he gets groomed. If he is being shown, his day revolves around the show schedule. 'Bugs' loves all the activity at the shows and is a true showman. He's a happy dog. Showing is one of his favorite things to do. 'Bugs' resides in Holland, Ohio, with his owner Christy and her four children, Alexis and Alicia O'Larry and Louis and Justin Fuller. He has been our heart dog and we just can't imagine a life without him! This has been the most wonderful ride of our lives. We hope for a Breed Win at the Garden!