Dogs have their day at kennel club show Annual state event is site of canine competition

February 19, 1996|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

Due to inaccurate information supplied to The Sun, a story in Monday's editions about the Maryland Kennel Club's annual dog show incorrectly reported the name of the dog that won best in show. The winner was a standard schnauzer named Ch Parsifal Di Casa Netzer.

The Sun regrets the error.

For Tuffy the Rottweiler, it was dog-eat-dog competition.

Tuffy stood in the middle of a makeshift ring in the 5th Regiment Armory yesterday as hundreds of humans circled around, waiting to see whether she would choke, like so many dogs do at the Maryland Kennel Club's annual show.

Tuffy sat. She stayed. She heeled. She ignored the keen canine competition. But she couldn't keep her furtive eyes from all those people standing around the ring. It was a distraction that could cost her coveted points.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"I think she did a good job, but the crowds were getting to her," said Tuffy's owner Dara Haines, 32, who drove three hours from Willingboro, N.J., to enter her in one of the nation's oldest dog shows. "We'll have to wait and see how she did."

It was wait and see for 1,984 dogs yesterday at the kennel club's 84th show featuring 142 breeds -- everything from yellow labs and golden retrievers, to shepherds, pugs and poodles. There was even something called a Petis Bassets Griffons Vandeens. In fact, there were nine.

A standard schnauzer, owned by Emily Shue of Smithfield, Va., took best in show. The dogs competed in rings set up on two floors of the jam-packed armory in Baltimore. On the main floor were 10 rings, each cordoned off with expandable wooden gates, a crisscross of rubber runways lining the inside. Flanking the rings were mobile beauty salons. The air was thick with talc and hair spray as groomers shampooed, clipped, and blew dry hundreds of dogs.

One of the country's most popular breeds competed first. Fifty-three golden retrievers took turns running around a ring starting at 8:30 a.m, their yellow coats fluffed and primed, their owners and handlers lifting their tails and regal heads, trying to position them for a ribbon and kennel club points.

The points determine a dog's status. Collect 15 and your dog is a champion, a designation that could mean the difference between puppies fetching $200 a piece on the market to puppies that can command $500 and up.

The point system also help breeders weed out dogs with weak traits -- bad eyes, shaky gaits, problem hips. Dogs with troubles are pulled out of the reproduction racket, fixed forever from passing along their genes.

Angel, a 1-year-old yellow lab, is a beginner. Yesterday was her ninth show. "It's a lot to learn," said Lil Webb, who traveled from Kent Island with her husband and two children to enter Angel in the show. "But we're having a lot of fun. It's a family thing. And as long as we keep having fun, we'll keep doing it."

Angel has the right blood lines. One parent is from England. The other from Canada. The Webbs work with her every day. They videotape her competitions. Like football players after a Sunday game, they gather around the television set after competitions, reviewing the tapes to see how she held her head, how she walked, how well she heeled.

The work is starting to pay off. Angel took a third place ribbon Saturday at the Annapolis Kennel Club show. She took a second place ribbon yesterday. But with no first place wins, Angel and her family are still waiting for her first championship points.

In the basement at yesterday's Baltimore show were six more rings, most of them reserved for big dogs like bullmastiffs and great Danes. Some rings are for obedience trials, where looks aren't nearly as important as sits, stays and jumping over obstacles.

Tuffy the Rottweiler was closing in on the competition. She got through the first trials. Now it was time for her to compete side-by-side against six other dogs. The judge told the owners to order their dogs down on the floor and then to walk away.

Tuffy didn't flinch. Despite the crowds, she stayed still, staring patiently at her owner, who was standing about 20 yards away. When the judging was finally over, Tuffy took a first-place ribbon. "I can't believe it," Ms. Haines said. "This is absolutely great."

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