When Rogue was a puppy, it was evident that Kayla Murfin’s mutt was at the head of the doggie class. Whenever Murfin, a veterinary technician, returned to her north Spokane home, she discovered that Rogue was a canine Houdini.
“Every day, she would escape from her crate,” Murfin said. “The first time she did it, I didn’t think I crated her, but she did it day after day.” Murfin, 28, who also has three other dogs, was more fascinated than frustrated. “It was obvious that Rogue is very smart,”Murfin said. “She’s much more intelligent than my other dogs.”
So Murfin bypassed obedience school for a nose-work class. “Rogue is great at scent detection,” Murfin said. Rogue, who is 7 years old, is smelling the roses of Hollywood. Murfin answered an open call for gifted pooches posted by A&E’s “America’s Top Dog” just prior to the pandemic.
“It’s been a really fun experience,” Murfin said. “It’s been so good for Rogue. I’m glad I gave this a shot.” Murfin, who works at the North Spokane Veterinary Clinic, saw an “America’s Top Dog” Facebook post in February 2020. “They asked about you and your dog, and I responded,” Murfin said. Murfin was interviewed via Skype in March 2020, and Rogue was selected. Murfin and Rogue flew to Los Angeles to compete in September 2020.
“They reserved an entire hotel for the competitors,” Murfin said. “We were surrounded by all of these cool, talented dogs. We saw dogs that are famous on Instagram, therapy dogs, dog actors and everything from Rottweilers to German Shepherds to Jack Russell Terriers.
Rogue, who is part Australian cattle dog, competed in scent detection and also gave her all in an obstacle course. Rogue also participated in high jumps and pulled a rope to drop a door down. “The competition wasn’t easy,” Murfin said. “She even had to push on the correct button and press on a lever to make the next stairwell.”
Well, is Rogue, the pride of north Spokane, America’s top dog? The answer is top secret, according to Murfin. The top dog will be revealed at 1 p.m. Saturday on A&E. “It’s been a great experience,” Murfin said. “The show has helped her grow. Rogue is very aggressive. She’s a reactive dog. I’ve worked on managing her behavior.
“There have been several large fights over the years (with Murfin’s other dogs, Dixie, Trigger and Moonshine, who are each between 7 and 10 years old). But I’m proud to see how she existed in a hotel situation with other dogs. We sat on a bench in close quarters. I see how she has developed and matured as a dog.”
So Rogue and Murfin have won regardless of the results of “America’s Top Dog.” “Rogue has grown so much over the last two years,” Murfin said. “It’s been quite an experience for me and for her.”
Perhaps Murfin and Rogue will be recognized while hiking around the area after the TV exposure. “You can see us walking on Riverside,” Murfin said. “We find a new path almost every time out and walk until we get lost, and then we have to find our way back.”
With Rogue and her super-sniffer, Murfin easily treks back to her car. “Rogue is just the best,” Murfin said. “I love her so much. I got her when she was 6 months old and was just going to foster her, but I fell in love with her. I’ve never met a dog like her. She’s just amazing in so many ways.”
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