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Dogs have their days

February 29, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

If you're a fiend for "Lassie" reruns or just partial to collies, the Millholland National Guard Armory is the place to be today.

Big collies, puppy collies, short-haired and long-haired collies will gather at the armory, south of Hagerstown on Roxbury Road, for the Collie Club of Maryland's 68th annual Specialty Show Weekend.

Today's events begin at 10 a.m. with a "puppy sweepstakes." Judging of regular classes of collies will follow.

It will be the second show of the weekend - 68 collies competed in various categories Saturday. Show Secretary Janet Grimm explained that in each category, judges rank the dogs for head structure, body shape, movement and expression.

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Expression, she said, "is a combination of the dog's (head) structure, intelligence and its soul. They say the collie has the look of eagles intelligent and alert."

Though she's shown her collies in competitions before, this time she was serving in a more official capacity. But Grimm's been active in this hobby for "at least 25 years," she said.

Her first collie was more of a companion than a show dog, she said, but as her affection for the breed grew, so did her brood.

The most she ever had at one time was 17, she said, "but that included a litter of puppies."

For the humans who enter dogs in the competition, dog shows are serious business. The exhibition hall was crowded with tables where handlers, mostly breeders who brought their dogs to show, coiffed their canines to perfection.

"You want your dog to look its very best," Grimm said.

Vendors selling dog toys, organic dog food and other pet supplies were set up in the back of the room.

Up front, the dogs and their handlers trotted around the show ring for the judge, running a triangle path so the judge could assess each animal from head to paw.

John Buddie sported an apron while grooming one of his collies near the show ring. A breeder from Pottstown, Pa., Buddie had three of his own dogs competing in Saturday's show. He's been taking collies to similar shows for 40 years, he said.

Collies have been a family tradition since a family-owned white collie won a Bloomingdale's show in 1929, he said.

"I just love the essence of the breed," Buddie said. "There's nothing like a collie."

Buddie also is a breed historian, he said, and he's always interested in hearing stories about individual dogs.

Buddie said he'd had 100 champions over the years. But whether he owns the dogs or the dogs own him wasn't quite clear.

"I'm a teacher," he said. "And I'm retiring this year to devote more time to the dogs."

Dog shows like this one allow dog breeders to acquire ideas, talk shop and evaluate breeding stock, Buddie said, and breeders take them seriously.

"A lot of people think it's just a beauty contest," he said. "It's not."

As for the dogs, Grimm is convinced they have a pretty good idea what's going on.

"They know they're having fun, they know they're getting treats and they know they're beautiful," she said.

"I think when they win, they know it, too."

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