You could call him the “Water Boy” based on his naming origin, but 2½-year-old Noah is already establishing an identity on the terra firma of the dog show world, too.
The 36-pound Cardigan Welsh Corgi, co-owned by Dr. Peggy McCoy, of Ohio, and his breeder, Sherri Hurst, of Texas, already has four group wins and multiple group placements. He was one of 19 breed entries at the 2020 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Noah, alongside littermates Dory and Brooke, was part of a litter of three born in Houston before Hurricane Harvey hit in summer 2017. The devastating storm severely flooded Hurst’s home and kennel. However, despite the rough start to their lives, all three Corgis have all achieved championships.
“I was in our motorhome headed to Ohio for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi specialty with 10 dogs,” recalls Hurst. “My husband called and said I’d better get back home because the house and kennel were about to be flooded. At that point, I was 18 hours away.”
Hurst made a mad dash toward home, stopping only to park the motorhome and get all the dogs settled. Her assistant stayed with the dogs and Hurst borrowed her car to drive the remaining five hours home. She and her husband had lived in Houston for 20 years with no floods before, but Harvey’s unprecedented 41 inches of rainfall over two days changed all that.
“After arriving home, I spent six hours loading the rest of the dogs and cats into our van and the car I had driven home and headed back to the motorhome,” says Hurst. “We ended up with about two feet of water in the kennel and in the house. The dogs were troopers with the quick evacuation since they were accustomed to traveling to dog shows. The humans, not so much.”
Noah, Dory, and Brooke, just five weeks old at the time, were among the Corgi contingency assembled back at the motorhome. Making the best of a bad situation in a small way, Hurst dubbed the three her “water litter,” hence their call names.
“If you’re heavily campaigning a dog, that requires a lot of travel,” she affirms. “One thing that helps pass the time while driving is thinking of future litter names. I always strive to come up with fun, clever themes. Because of the flooding at home, water seemed the perfect theme for Noah’s litter.”
For McCoy, an internal medicine specialist and owner of Rhodesian Ridgebacks since 1992, this is an exciting new odyssey. When one of her Ridgebacks, JT, started traveling with Hurst a few years ago, McCoy took notice of Libby, Hurst’s beautiful young Cardigan bitch.
“I loved her sturdiness, willingness to please, clown-like quality, and good nature,” says McCoy. “There was a video of Libby herding puppies and the movement was stunning. I wanted a smaller dog with a big dog mentality and the Cardigan suited both quite well.”
Hurst eventually took JT to a Grand Championship. As a result, McCoy felt comfortable with a co-ownership arrangement. The two next discussed finding a show-potential Cardigan male puppy. That shared trust extended to Hurst matching Noah with McCoy.
“Sherri had two litters of Cardigans at the time,” recalls McCoy. “She wanted to decide which of the males would be best for me. I was thrilled with her decision because I had seen Noah’s baby pictures and he was the one I bonded with. There was something in his face that just made me melt.”
When it comes to scheduling and show decisions regarding her dogs, McCoy defers to Hurst.
“She knows the shows in which we should enter Noah,” says McCoy. “I am the ‘roadie’ for her. I handle hotel arrangements and am generally good for helping unload and load the equipment and dogs.”
On The Campaign Trail
Noah won’t be in McCoy’s Ohio home much this year if campaigned heavily. However, when he is home, the two Ridgebacks still rule the roost.
“JT, being the laziest dog in the world, loves Noah like a brother,” says McCoy. “The two have never quarreled despite both being intact males. Noah is a very compliant dog and through careful introduction as a puppy, he strolled right into the household as a family member. In fact, you could say Noah identifies as a Ridgeback.”
Being a co-owner of a young dog increasingly on the campaign trail means intersecting lives year-round. And that prompts a hybrid of emotions in both directions. When Noah’s on the road, McCoy admits not having him at home is tough.
“He has a habit of being right with you, as a herding dog would,” says McCoy. “However, because I know that Sherri loves and cares for him so well, it makes it easier. Her assistant, Bergen, is very good about sending me photos of Noah. The fact I have a busy life as a physician helps mitigate the separation, too.”
Hurst’s perspective captures the bond she shares with the cherished Cardigan as well, having been the one to first breed him.
“He has always loved and wanted to be with me, too,” says Hurst. “My puppies never forget me. So when Noah goes back home to Peg for the holidays or a schedule break, he acts like he never left. He has the best of both worlds.”
A young Noah was McCoy’s therapeutic go-to guy when her mother became ill and died in March 2018 after a sudden illness.
“He would come and sit at my feet or lay on the couch with his chin on my lap,” she recalls. “It was very comforting to have his touch. I sensed he knew my sadness.”
New to the breed at the time, McCoy placed a high priority on early socialization for Noah. At that point, her two Ridgebacks were daily fixtures at a local doggy daycare. She had that in mind for Noah, too. She spoke with the business owner who agreed to keep him near the front desk until he was old enough for all of his adult immunizations.
“It is incredibly important to have a potential show dog that is willing to come to anyone to be exercised. Also, to be exposed to different situations to learn not to be reactive when confronted with new ones,” explains McCoy.
Daycare has enabled Noah to blossom into a social butterfly. She typically drops him off with the Ridgebacks around 7 a.m. and picks them up at 6:30 p.m. The daycare team always welcomes Noah back each time from the campaign trail breaks. McCoy acknowledges the hardworking staff as important parts of “Team Noah.”
So, does “Water Boy” have an affinity for his namesake?
“We have never tested Noah in the water,” replies McCoy. “But he falls asleep when being bathed in an elevated tub with slightly warm water. He loves his spa days, too.”
“Water Boy” At Westminster
Hurst is a Westminster veteran, having not missed a show since 1991. In 1992 she won the Working Group with a Bullmastiff named Satchmo. She’s also piled up an impressive array of breed wins there with the following: Bullmastiff, Cardigan, Pembroke, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Tervuren.
So how did Hurst approach Westminster this year with the young Noah?
“The key is making it fun for him,” says Hurst. “If he continues to enjoy the ring like he has proven to do so, more shows will be in his future.”
At the top of Hurst’s list of many show ring accomplishments was in 2013 when she won the Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Specialty with Noah’s grandfather, GCH CH Heart of Gold Power Play (“Powell”), and the same year took the Pembroke Welsh Corgi National Specialty with GCHP CH Aubrey’s Moon River (“Rebecca”). It is unknown if she is the only person to take both coveted Corgi titles the same year.
On February 9th, Noah competed against 18 other Cardigan Welsh Corgis to vie for the Best of Breed title at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. While the “Water Boy” fell short of winning the breed, he was presented with an Award of Merit. Given at the discretion of the judge at Westminster, an Award of Merit may be made to outstanding entries that are not judged to be either Best of Breed, Best of Variety, Best Opposite Sex, or Select.
No matter what’s next for Noah, he’s sure to bring a flood of enthusiasm, energy, and success to whatever that may be.