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A couple devoted to dogs

February 23, 2009|By JANET HEIM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- If you were to ask Victor Guilmino's mother about his childhood health, she would tell you he always had pneumonia. Maybe it was just coincidence, but the turning point seemed to be when Guilmino's Uncle Buck showed up at their door with a stray dog, which became a family pet.

"I was never sick after the dog," said Guilmino, 66.

That has led to a dog-filled life for the current president of the Mason and Dixon Kennel Club, the local AKC-recognized kennel club.

He and his wife, Sue, have three dogs -- a Doberman pinscher and two Brussels griffons.

Guilmino said he got into showing dogs because he "wanted a Doberman all my life."

Back then, Guilmino said, it was hard to find Dobermans, so he had to go to a dog show to get one. Not only did he find the dog he wanted, but through his involvement in dog shows, he met his wife of 27 years.

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"We would have never met otherwise. It's a love we both have," Victor Guilmino said of their shared love of dogs.

Sue Guilmino, 53, is treasurer of the MDKC and has been a member since 1973. Victor Guilmino has been a member since 1978. Both were born and raised in Hagerstown and now live in Martinsburg, W.Va.

At one point, the couple showed 20 dogs, with the help of a junior handler who traveled with them. They are both members of the Professional Handlers Association.

The Guilminos also had daytime jobs. Victor worked at Mack Trucks for 12 years before his retirement two years ago. Sue was an office manager for a cleaning contractor and now works part time at Wal-Mart in Spring Mills, W.Va.

"At one point, we put in more time with the dogs than work," Sue Guilmino said.

Classes in agility, fly ball and obedience are taught through the MDKC, as are puppy classes and conformation.

"We teach you to present your dog just the way you see it on TV," Victor Guilmino said.

The MDKC meets the first Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m., except in July and August, and each month features a different program. Meetings are held in the club's building at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike. A fenced-in backyard offers a legal-size AKC ring.

"We invite anybody out to participate in classes or come out and watch," Guilmino said.

The club has donated to the Humane Society of Washington County and the Hagerstown Police Department for the K-9 program.

The MDKC is holding an AKC Sanctioned B Conformation All Breed Match Saturday and a Day of Fun for Dogs/Handlers on Sunday at its Ag Center location. Events are free to spectators.

The MDKC has 48 members, who also put on the Mason and Dixon Kennel Club Dog Show at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.

The American Kennel Club sets the dates for the local dog shows and this year the show falls on Easter Sunday, April 12.

More information can be obtained at www.mason dixonkennelclub.com.

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