Dogged pursuit of 1st place Show: Canine contestants' owners clipped and coiffed their dogs and crossed their fingers at the Maryland Kennel Club's 85th annual dog show.

February 17, 1997|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Krissy could have been a contender.

Her hair was perfectly coiffed after a last-minute shampoo and clip. She was relaxed after getting encouraging hugs and kisses from her managers. But when it was time for her to prance before the judges yesterday, Krissy didn't make the cut.

Such is life on the dog show circuit.

The canine contestants in the Maryland Kennel Club's 85th All-Breed Dog Show and Obedience Trial yesterday vied to be the top dog in an intense competition that drew more than 2,000 entries representing at least 135 breeds, from Afghan hounds to miniature schnauzers to soft-coated wheaten terriers.

"It's a letdown. A judge looks at your dog for 20 seconds, and it's over. That's all there is to it. Now we're off to the next dog show," said Kristen Dorsey.

She and Dolores King, both of Taylorsville, are co-owners of Krissy, a 2-year-old Bedlington terrier -- a rare dog that looks like a 15-pound sheep.

The dogs began their day at 8 a.m. at the 5th Regiment Armory at Preston and Howard streets standing on tables while their owners clipped, powdered and sprayed their hair.

When it came time to perform according to their breed, they headed to one of 16 makeshift rings crisscrossed by rubber runways set up on two floors of the armory.

They were judged for their walk, the shape of their bodies, the health of their teeth and the clarity of their eyes.

Some rings were for obedience trials, where a dog's ability to sit, stay and jump over obstacles were judged.

At stake were ribbons, trophies -- and more important -- kennel club points. A dog has its whole show career to collect 15 to become a champion. Then the dog's status within the show circuit rises.

"Oh gee! I didn't bring the camera," said Denise Russell, a teacher at Baltimore City College, when she saw Bucks, a champion Bedlington that won first place among terriers at the show.

She said she recognized the dog from television, when he recently won second place in the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York, the most prestigious dog show in the country.

"I was rooting for him, because I have one," said Russell, who is preparing to show her Bedlington at a dog show in North Carolina next month.

The road can be long and disappointing for owners who hope their dogs can be as successful as Bucks.

Greg Wessel of Randallstown has been showing his golden retrievers, named Mercy and Hunter, for months now.

Hunter is within 6 points of champion status, but he didn't place yesterday.

Mercy, however, came in second in her competition.

D'Alex Childers of Crownsville didn't have much luck with her golden retrievers, either.

"The judge doesn't like his head type. It's not as blocky as the other dogs," she said about her dog, Rion.

The dog won his class against 30 other golden retrievers.

Rion lost out when he competed in a category for five breeds of retrievers.

And when her other dog, McCormick, failed to place, Childers, a dog breeder for 13 years, said, "I don't think [the judge] likes her either."

If the golden retrievers ever become dog show elites, like Bucks, their stay will not last forever, breeders said. Other dogs are always scratching to become winners.

TTC Said David Ramsey, who drove nine hours with Bucks from his home in Rhode Island to compete in Maryland's show: "I'll keep showing Bucks as long as he wins. When he stops winning, I'll put him in retirement.

"He'll be like a chubby beauty queen -- useless."

Pub Date: 2/17/97

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