For a pooch with a pedigree like Pearl's, the Mason-Dixon Kennel Club's All Breed Match on Saturday was a bit like the minor leagues for show dogs, an event to hone skills in preparation of the big leagues.
"Her dad was the No. 1 English setter in the country last year," Nancy Tuthill of Sharpsburg said of Champion Reidwood Red Alert, judged the best of his breed at the Westminster Kennel Club in 2010.
"Pearl is just starting out in her training," Tuthill said.
Not far away was Mariah, a standard poodle getting her hair done by handler Logan Mazanec in preparation for her turn in the ring in the non-sporting dog group. Mazanec, of Annapolis, was showing the dog for its owner, Joannie Clas of Frederick.
Trevor, a Chinese crested puppy was showing some jitters, trembling in the arms of Jen Wager of Hagerstown. She started showing Afghan hounds 10 years ago when she was in high school, but the tiny Trevor and her other crested, Sizzle, "are a lot more apartment-friendly," she said.
Although Trevor is a Chinese crested living in Maryland, he was actually born in Sweden, Wager said.
"It's a fun match for people to come and practice with their dogs," said K.C. Combs, the chairwoman of this year's match, held at the Washington County Agricultural Center.
There were 108 entries representing sporting, non-sporting, herding, working, toy, hound and terrier breeds, she said.
This was the type of match where an owner like Tom Masog of Annapolis can bring his smooth chow Reina for some seasoning before moving onto confirmation shows.
"She's got some fear of people and noises, and this is the place to work it out," Masog said. Reina did look a bit nervous, but was kind enough to lick the hand of a stranger.
"I'm looking for movement, and I'm looking for a nice square structure" in showing his dog's confirmation, Masog said.
"You want to show off that he has the ideal movement for his breed," Lilli Sutton of Sharpsburg said of her whippet, Dusty. In his case, that would a smooth stride covering a lot of ground, she said.
Dusty won his class at the event, but his sister, Whisper, took best for her breed, Sutton said.
Top dog — actually Best in Match Adult — went to Poncho, a Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen, owned by Mary Lamphier of White Post, Va. Best in Match Puppy was Bon Jovi, a bulldog owned by Susie Kline of Quentin, Pa.
The Best Junior Handler in Match went to Lauren Trippe of Dickerson, Md., showing the English foxhound Monocacy Bend's Wallis, owned by Toni Koerber, also of Dickerson.
In addition to junior handlers, there was another teaching component to Saturday's match, a confirmation clinic that drew about 20 people new to the sport, Combs said.