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'Picky Pooch' trick lands couple on TV show

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By Jessica Keller

The Courier-Herald

A trick to keep a hungry puppy from eating people food recently won Wilkeson couple Kim and James Main and their lovable Australian Shepherd Maverick a trip to Hollywood for a filming of "America's Funniest Home Videos."

The Mains, both teachers, have no children and intead devote their loving to their two Australian Shepherds Maverick and Cooper.

"We're those pathetic dog people," Kim Main said with a laugh.

But it was Maverick who will be in the limelight 7 p.m. Sunday night on ABC when the show will be broadcast.

While the Mains knew their video will be shown they did not find out they were among the three finalists until mid-September.

Kim Main said James called her to let her know they won a prize.

"It was a total surprise," she said.

The video involves James and Maverick, a multi-colored, 5-year-old dog, performing what James calls the "dog catcher trick," although the video was renamed "The Picky Pooch" for the show.

In the trick James offers Maverick dog treats. James tells Maverick who each treat is from, and Maverick accepts the treats from Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa and those people he loves. When James offers Maverick a treat from the dog catcher, however, Maverick who eagerly took the other treats, ignores the snack.

Kim Main said when James taught Maverick the treat, it would stop him from eating the human food James' father feeds him when they go to visit. She said he gets nothing but dog food at home, but when they visit James' parents, Grandpa has a penchant for feeding Maverick leftovers, like pizza. They hoped by shouting dog catcher whenever Grandpa tried to slip Maverick some food, he would not take it.

"But it only works for tricks," she said with a laugh. "He knows the difference."

James and Maverick have been showing off the dog catcher trick for about three years, but the Mains didn't film it and send it into America's Funniest Home Videos until they were urged to do so by a neighbor. The video was submitted in May, but the Mains never dreamed they would become finalists.

"It was great," Kim Main said.

They received free airfare and hotel room for themselves and Maverick. They flew down on Sept. 24, a Friday and returned on Sunday in time to be in their respective schools on Monday.

While they know what they've won, they can't tell as they signed a contract saying they wouldn't.

"It's like Survivor, they'll hunt you down and kill ya," James Main said.

Kim said the whole experience was a lot of fun, but pretty surreal. Before the show, the Mains and Maverick, plus the other contestants all sat in a room together and chatted and were coached about what to do when they were filmed. They then went into make-up and were seated in the audience before moved to the finalist section.

When it came time for them to sit in the finalist section, the Main's didn't know what to expect.

"We thought, 'oh my gosh, stiff competition,'" Kim Main said. "Anytime there is a baby, it's stiff competition."

Kim said it was a bit disconcerting when the camera focused in on her and James and Maverick through the last third of the show.

"It's weird," she said. "You don't know what to do, and you just sit there feeling stupid."

Maverick, however, handled the experience like a trooper, even giving the host Tom Bergeron a high-five when he came up to be introduced.

"We didn't really know how he would handle it," Kim said. "He's a bit shy, and there were a lot of people.

"But he was very well-behaved," she added, and sat quietly between Kim and James during the recording.

Because they were finalists, the Mains won at least $2,000 for a third place finish, but could have won more.

"It was all so unexpected, but very exciting," Kim Main said.

Since their return, Maverick has returned to his normal doggie lifestyle, although James said he is inclined to think of himself as a person, and the Mains have gone back to teaching.

Kim Main said all their students are very excited they were on America's Funniest Home Videos, and keep asking the Main's if they won. While they refuse to say, everybody's curiousity will be relieved this weekend.

Kim Main said they will have a small party on game show night, with Maverick sporting a snazzy tuxedo. She also said she will have a small party in her classroom, also airing the show.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com.

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