Dogs groomed for success

Show: The Maryland Kennel Club show, one of the nation's oldest, gives almost 1,900 dogs a chance to strut their stuff for championship points, ribbons and prizes.

February 22, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Marion Thompson addressed her Chinese Shar-Pei with fond impatience.

"Now why can't you do that in the ring? You look so good."

Dekema's Spice Girl -- known at home as Holly -- tilted her head in reply and took the admonition to heart. Minutes later, she trotted into Ring 5 and emerged with a second-place ribbon, two championship points and an owner whose impatience had been replaced with triumph.

Holly was one of 14 Chinese Shar-Peis competing in the 87th Maryland Kennel Club show yesterday, among the nation's oldest dog shows. The Maryland Kennel Club was founded in 1890. Money raised at the annual dog show is given to animal-related charities, veterinary hospitals and to train dogs for the blind.

Best-of-show honors went to Champion Bear Magic's Son of a Gun, a Welsh corgi Pembroke owned by Sally Tietsworth of Pottstown, Pa. Also competing in the best-of-show category were a boxer, an Afghan hound, a Welsh terrier, a Bichons Frises, an English springer spaniel and a Yorkshire terrier.

The competition at the 5th Regiment Armory in downtown Baltimore brought together 144 breeds -- 1,896 dogs in all -- and the thousands of people who breed, own, show and love them.

Bernese mountain dogs and bloodhounds, Shetland sheep dogs and Salukis, little dogs, big dogs, retrievers, terriers and exotic breeds filled a dozen rings in the armory for the one-day event. Their owners brought hopes, dreams and plenty of dog grooming products.

Entrants competed for ribbons and prizes, and also for championship points awarded by judges. Dogs can win as many as five championship points per show, and 15 are required to earn a dog the much-coveted "champion" title that precedes their names in dog magazines and advertising.

"That's the one you publish," said Chris Rezek, a Harford County resident whose Spellbound's Rolling Thunder (that's just plain Thunder around the house) won best of breed in the Maltese category yesterday. With little black bows holding back his bangs -- "they're called `headfall,' " Rezek said -- Thunder looked stylish but sleepy after his morning event.

Nearby, two Tibetan terriers had plenty of energy after an appearance in the ring. Khyber's Heartbreaker and Khyber's Bit of Heaven -- who are called Josh and Maggie by their owners, Pat and Rich Sutton of Baltimore -- pranced around and tangled their leashes.

"The breed is 2,000 years old," Rich Sutton said. Bred by Tibetan monks as companions, Tibetan terriers have long hair and eyes shaded by a fall of silky fringe. Before each show, the Suttons brush and groom their dogs, then straighten the part along the animals' backbones with a knitting needle so the hair falls evenly on both sides.

Less elaborate grooming aids appeared to be required for Welsh terriers, most of whom got a last-minute swipe with a comb outside Ring 8 yesterday.

"Sarah wants to be here -- she struts when she walks. She has an attitude," Steve Crawley explained as he and his 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, waited to show their dog.

The Crawleys traveled from Long Island with 16-month-old Sarah You Go Girl, one of the seven Welsh terriers in the show.

Once in the ring, Sarah lived up to her name in every way but one. She pranced in front of the judges. She lifted her head high. She looked as soulful as a dog with wiry hair covering its eyes can look.

She didn't win -- a setback Crawley took with philosophical grace.

"She's young. We can't expect her to win at this level," he said. "Tomorrow is another day."

Pub Date: 2/22/99

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