PASCO, Wash. — One visit with Hype and it becomes apparent why her owner, 16-year-old JuliAnna Munden of Pasco, believes her dog is the smartest, most lovable pooch on the planet.
Hype is a 3-year-old boxer and pitbull mix who is not only adorable but also an American Kennel Club champion who's rated No. 16 in the nation in the AKC's mixed breed junior division.
JuliAnna, the daughter of Scott and Christy Munden, said she'll never forget the first time she locked eyes with Hype's intense gaze.
"I heard barking in the backyard and at first thought it was our dog, but when I looked outside I saw this pitbull staring at me," she said. "I wondered how she got into our backyard because we have a 6-foot fence surrounding it, so I went outside.
"She was very friendly but continued to bark and tried to show me something at the fence."
So JuliAnna followed Hype and found a 6- to 8-week-old puppy there.
"I couldn't just leave that baby there, so I brought them both in the house and fed and watered them," she said. "I asked my parents when they got home if I could keep them both, but they told me I had to first see if the owners could be found."
Hype was named because of her rambunctious nature. The puppy was named Tag. A week later the family contacted Tri-Cities Animal Control office, but no missing dogs matching Hype's description had been reported and Hype did not have an identification chip, JuliAnna said.
Since Hype had no problem scaling a 6-foot fence, it didn't take long for her to disappear again, but she returned a few days later with a couple more puppies, JuliAnna said.
All the puppies, except Tag, were returned to their owner, but mother and son stayed with JuliAnna and her family.
"Animal Control told us that if a (lost) dog is in your possession for at least 10 days without the owners coming to get them, you could claim the dog as your own," Scott Munden said. "The owners at first wanted us to pay for her and her pup but, that never happened."
The Munden family, which also includes JuliAnna's younger sister Katie, loves all animals. Hype and Tag joined a menagerie of other pets including a dog, a few cats, two cockatiels, five parakeets and a couple of rodents.
JuliAnna, a 4.0 grade-point average student at Pasco High School, said Hype is her pride and joy. But this well-disciplined hound wasn't always obedient.
She was unruly when she first showed up at the Mundens' back door.
"I knew right off she was smart, and she loved to run and chase a ball," JuliAnna said. "But it was a battle because I spent hours and hours playing with her, but it was never enough to calm her down.
"She would chew our furniture and destroy other things in the house. It was as if manners were the last thing on her mind. Heeling on a leash -- not possible. Sitting when told -- never happening. Staying put -- hah! I tried that, too."
But JuliAnna proved she's as stubborn as her dog and started training Hype in April 2011 with the help of the Columbia Basin Dog Training Club.
"She has done an amazing job with Hype," said Rhonda Riggle of Pasco, the club's secretary. "Many of us in the club have been training dogs for years and haven't even come close to what JuliAnna has accomplished with Hype in a short amount of time."
Riggle also commends JuliAnna for tackling the training of a pitbull, even if Hype is a mixed breed.
"Not many of us in the club are brave enough to train a pitbull," she joked.
Hype and JuliAnna will travel to Florida next month for the AKC Juniors Agility Invitational in Orlando.