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A breed of their own

Match helps dogs get ready for 'showtime'

Match helps dogs get ready for 'showtime'

February 25, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

WASHINGTON COUNTY - There were no boars for Brittany Cipriotti's Harlequin Great Dane to hunt at the breed match held Saturday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Not that it mattered anyway - the breed's historic training in Europe long has been replaced with television watching, at least at Cipriotti's home in Manassas, Va.

"They're awesome family dogs. They're low-energy couch potatoes," said Cipriotti, who brought Hobie, a spotted 11-month-old, 150-pound dog for the match, which was held to ready inexperienced dogs for an actual show.

Regardless, when the dogs get their show collar on, Cipriotti said they know it's "showtime."

Saturday was no different at the American Kennel Club-sanctioned B Conformation All Breed Match organized by the Mason and Dixon Kennel Club.

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"This is something you learn to live with," Cipriotti said as she held up a white towel, known to her as a "slobber rag."

On the opposite end of the scale was Stormy, a 3.8-pound, white and fluffy hair Maltese puppy.

"I just love their little personalities," said owner Linda Wert of Newville, Pa., before leading the small canine around a square ring with runways of thin carpeted mats. Judges were at a table studying the animal's physique up close.

"This is her first match," Wert said of the 5-month-old puppy. "She needed the experience."

As the owner of 13 champion dogs, Wert said the appearance of the dog's high maintenance coat is a "big deal" to judges.

"It's a daily routine, otherwise, their coats get matted and dirty," Wert said.

Katherine Levario brought 11-month-old Gracie, a toy Manchester terrier, to the match with her aunt, Cynthia Levario of Port Deposit, Md.

Levario, 15, said she has been showing dogs for two years, and has learned a few things about the art of presentation.

"Don't be nervous. Go in the ring and have fun," Levario said. "If you're shaking, that dog is going to know."

Also among about 140 entries for the kennel club's event was Ron Gagne's 5-month-old Siberian husky, Athos.

In the working dog category, Gagne, of Warrenton, Va., said judges are looking for how the dog's physical features allow them to pull sleds. Oftentimes, Gagne said husky owners in warmer climates have to resort to a wheeled "land rig" to mimic a sled because there simply isn't enough snowfall.

Sandra De Laet readily admits her briard isn't for everybody.

"His father was imported from France," De Laet said of her 10-month-old, 70-pound French sheepdog she named Balzac after 19th-century French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac.

"These guys police the fence lines," De Laet said.

Events continue today with an agility mini-clinic, obedience run-throughs and canine good citizen tests. Those interested in participating in today's events may obtain more information on the Mason and Dixon Kennel Club's Web site at www.masondixonkennelclub.com.

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