Lake Helen resident Andrea Ferguson didn’t get to watch her dog Rebel’s TV debut July 6, because Rebel was giving birth to a litter of puppies.
Ferguson didn’t mind missing the show. She would do anything for her dogs.
And these aren’t just any dogs. Sure, most dogs can sit, or even stay, but Ferguson and Rebel can do a lot more. That’s what landed the pair on the TV show America’s Top Dog.
“I knew she was going to take me places, and look, we’re on TV!” Ferguson said. “Rebel has definitely taken me places.”
It’s been almost a year since Ferguson and Rebel flew to Los Angeles to participate in the A&E show. The program pits teams of dogs and their handlers against each other in a number of competitions, including obstacle courses and other challenges.
Spoiler alert: Ferguson and Rebel didn’t win. Rebel was tripped up by having to cross a shaky bridge during an obstacle course. But their experience was worth more than any prize, Ferguson told The Beacon.
“I think out of all the teams, we had the most fun of anybody else out there,” she said. “I had a moment of clarity, and it was kind of a eureka, aha moment, where I realized that supporting my dog was so much more important than the game we were playing. It was a very real moment where I realized, this is my chance to make sure my dog knows I’m there to support her.”
The experience was surreal, Ferguson said, from the TV network buying an entire row of airplane seats for her and Rebel so they could put their feet up during the flight, to recognizing dogs and their trainers Ferguson had seen at other competitions in Florida.
After competing their hearts out, Team Rebel returned to Lake Helen, to enjoy more time and training with the rest of Ferguson’s litter, which has grown exponentially thanks to Rebel’s new puppies.
Rebel is a schnauzer Ferguson purchased as a puppy from a close friend and breeder.
“With Rebel, I knew exactly what I wanted, and with a breeder and a predetermined lineage, I knew exactly what I was going to get,” Ferguson said. “I knew she was going to be my next partner.”
Next is Boudreaux the basset hound, who specializes in scent competitions.
“That’s his favorite sport,” Ferguson said. “If you can imagine a 45-pound basset hound baying down a 100-yard dash.”
Rounding out the Ferguson doghouse are two other dogs:Jude, a mini schnauzer and “jack-of-all-trades,” per Ferguson, and her newest partner, Riot the schnauzer. Riot, only 6 months old, is Rebel’s niece and quite the firebrand.
“She knows how to sit; that’s basically it,” Ferguson said. “That, and bite things.”
With her pack at home, and with the help of her boyfriend, Adam, Ferguson is looking forward to keeping up with dog competitions.
“I’ve been in dog sports for about five or six years now,” she said. “It’s not just something you sit back and do; it’s a lifestyle. You can’t just take a dog and say ‘I’m going to teach you how to sit and shake and now I’m going to get rally and obedience titles.’ It’s dedication and work every day.”
Her pack, she said, will also undoubtedly continue to grow.
“Once you get into dog sports, it’s impossible to have one dog,” Ferguson said. “Anyone that has just one dog is already thinking about the next one, and anyone with more than one dog is already thinking about the next ones.”
Ferguson said she is looking forward to watching a replay of her and Rebel’s moment of TV stardom, now with Rebel’s puppies in tow.
Anyone interested in watching the episode of America’s Top Dog featuring Ferguson and Rebel can tune in online at A&E’s website, HERE. Online viewers must sign in with their cable TV provider to watch full episodes.
A promo for the episode featuring the Lake Helen duo is available below.