MICHELE BILLINGS judges 100 dog shows a year, and she's not woofing when she calls Ch. Heathers Knock on Wood--Knotty to his friends--the best bloodhound she has ever seen. Bloodhounds, Billings says, are "inherently lazy, with loose skin and soft muscles," and most owners let them stay that way. Not Lyn Sherman (above). After getting Knotty as a puppy in 2000, Sherman, a retired psychotherapist, crafted a diet and fitness program to help him develop a physique that would separate him from his peers and give him the stamina for 10-hour dog-show days. Billings, citing his solid musculature and commanding presence, judged Knotty as best-in-show at last year's AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. That, plus a record 48 other best-in-show titles, says his regimen's working. Here's Knotty's workout as he prepares for the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York City next month:
Sherman is trained in massage therapy and, like the trainers of human athletes, believes in stretching. "I start by stretching out each of his legs, and I pull the tail to elongate the spine," she says. "He loves it." A large dog--at 127 pounds he outweighs the average bloodhound by about 10 pounds--Knotty runs daily (often to disco music) in Sherman's Topanga, Calif., home on the Jog a Dog, a treadmill that's longer (72 inches) than those at most gyms. While Sherman continually sprays him with water to keep him cool, Knotty warms up for three minutes at three miles per hour, then trots briskly for eight minutes at seven miles per hour before a three-minute cooldown. Sherman also leads Knotty on hourlong outdoor runs each afternoon. "He thinks he's going to find mountain lions," she says. "He's very enthusiastic."
Eating and Sleeping
Knotty gets most of his daily 4,000 calories from the three cups of high-protein, high-fat kibble, topped with a half cup of fish-based canned food, that he eats twice a day. Sherman sometimes adds boiled organic chicken and stewed tomatoes and, once a week, throws in spaghetti and meatballs, Knotty's favorite. The rest of Knotty's training? He sleeps 16 hours a day, normal for a bloodhound.
COURTESY OF LYN SHERMAN (3: KNOTTY, SHERMAN, WALKER KEN GRIFFITH)
TRIOLO PRODUCTIONS/BRAND X PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES (SPAGHETTI)