A Vermonter and Her Pup Compete on 'America's Top Dog' | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

News + Opinion » True 802

A Vermonter and Her Pup Compete on 'America's Top Dog'


Published January 29, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated February 3, 2020 at 9:40 a.m.

Jill Viggiani and Moto - COURTESY OF A&E
  • Courtesy Of A&e
  • Jill Viggiani and Moto

A professional dog trainer from Huntington and her four-legged pal Moto will appear on TV this week in a national competition. 

Jill Viggiani and her 6-year-old boxer made it onto A&E's "America's Top Dog," which puts pups through their paces on a variety of skills challenges. The dogs must make it through a massive obstacle course — think the human show "American Ninja Warrior" — use their noses to find hidden objects in a maze and even take down a fleeing suspect wearing a bite suit.

Moto, whom Viggiani described as a "true working-style boxer," will be the lone civilian pup competing against four police K-9s. If they win on the prerecorded episode, which airs Wednesday, January 29, the duo would take home $10,000 — and an animal charity of their choice would get another $5,000. Winners who make it to the finale have a shot at $25,000.

"It was such an incredible experience, and I'm glad we had an opportunity to fly out there and be part of all of it," Viggiani said.

Viggiani runs the aptly named MotoDog Training out of her home, where she lives with Moto and two Belgian Malinois. Producers from "America's Top Dog" found her Instagram page and got in touch about a year ago. 

"They did tons and tons of interviews, like Skype-kind of interviews," Viggiani said. "I put my laptop on a low counter so Moto could see the camera."  

Viggiani and Moto flew out to California over the summer to compete. The crew filmed at 2 a.m., on a set in the desert outside Los Angeles, to avoid midday heat.

Viggiani won't reveal how Moto did before the show airs, but she said they had a great time competing.

"His favorite was the rope bridge," Viggiani said of the obstacle course. "He did go over it a few too many times. He thought it was really fun."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Very Good Boy"