Embark customer Trudy Wisner breeds Bearded Collies with a hunger for the spotlight.
She has her very own family of dogs, including an 11-year-old Bearded Collie named Poppet who was the runner-up in the agility competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. But her pack’s claim to fame doesn’t stop there.
Trudy has seven dogs in her family, six Bearded Collies and one rescue mixed-breed dog, plus two cats and a rat. They all commingle and the dogs sleep in the bed with her and her husband.
“They all curl up into small balls, so it’s okay,” she said with a chuckle.
Two of her Collies, Poppet and Rugby, are local celebrities with many talents to their names.
Rugby the Bearded Collie
Rugby is about 4 years old and had his first acting job when he just 5 weeks. The job was a photo shoot for Neiman Marcus and all he had to do was “sit there and be cute,” Trudy explained.
He went to expand his acting career with a part on the CBS television show “Limitless,” a series of Christmas promotions for Lifetime TV, and a role as a police inspector on the soap opera series “As the Dog Barks.” He also landed parts in commercials for various major brands including Samsung Galaxy, Pedigree dog food, Swiffer, Geico, and Macy’s. He even appeared in a wedding photo shoot for Vera Wang. Trudy particularly enjoyed that shoot and said Vera was “awesome.”
His most popular appearance was in a New York lottery commercial that was on constantly, according to Trudy.
“It’s where everyone knew him from,” she said.
Trudy trains her dogs and prepares them for jobs. During a commercial shoot for JCPenney, there was a lot of fetching. Trudy says it took her three days to teach Rugby how to retrieve.
“But he’s so willing to just learn and do, he loves to work,” she said of the celebrity pup.
She’s had four generations of Bearded Collies and all of them have worked at some point. They all live with her, so Rugby sleeps under the same roof as his furry great-grandmother.
Trudy has worked with an agency for about 13 years; they give her work regularly with anywhere from a week to a day’s notice. Rugby works the most, Trudy explained, and is trained in agility, herding, and obedience. But he’s also a therapy dog. Rugby goes to work with Trudy at a dog grooming shop in Brooklyn where he comforts frightened dogs.
“He’ll jump right into the tub with them,” Trudy said. “I didn’t train him to do that, he did it on his own!”
Some customers even ask for Rugby to be there during their appointment when they call to schedule it.
“He’s the overachiever of the family,” Trudy said proudly.
Poppet the Bearded Collie
This girl was born in the very first litter Trudy bred. Poppet is mostly an agility dog, but she’s appeared on television as well. She made the invitational for the American Kennel Club and was named the number one preferred Bearded Collie. She was then able to compete against the top 5 Bearded Collies in the regular height class and became the number two Bearded Collie in the country in the agility competition. She’s a 20-inch dog and was 11 years old when she won. Impressive.
“That was the highlight of my agility career,” Trudy said.
In addition to all of her competition abilities, Poppet has a very special gift. She warns Trudy, who has a heart condition, when a spasm is about to occur.
“She knows when it’s going to happen and she’ll cut me off and walk in front of me until I stop—either in the ring or when I just come out,” Trudy said.
Poppet is truly a special dog, and another fun fact about her: she’s Rugby’s grandmother. When asked if the pair knows they’re related, Trudy said, “they absolutely do.”
“They respect their elders. There is a pecking order, so to speak,” she explained.
Trudy bought an Embark DNA test for Rugby and found that his health results were completely clear. Now it’s time to test the rest of her pack.