Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association plans show

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:47 p.m.

George may be graying a bit in his senior years, but the champ is not letting his age dog him during retirement.

George — a 9-year-old fawn-color mastiff, who is a certified therapy dog and was the No. 5 mastiff in the country at a 2009 show — will compete in the “veteran” category for dogs age 7 and older at the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association Annual Dog Show, March 30 and 31 at the Monroeville Convention Center. He and his canine competitors will vie for ribbons from American Kennel Club judges, who evaluate the purebred animals based on traits from the breed's standards, such as ears, tails, markings and movements.

Amy Coglio, who has entered many of her dogs in shows over the years, will be bathing George, trimming his nails and otherwise primping him for the weekend show, which she and her pet love.

“I enjoy going to dog shows, I love talking to the people, I love learning about all the different dogs,” says Coglio, 47, of Mt. Washington. She will be hosting “Meet the Breed” sessions about mastiffs with George during the show. “You've got to be a dog person to enjoy spending your whole weekend around the dogs.”

George, Coglio says, seems to love the environment of the show, but “you probably won't notice that he's happy about it. He's so calm, gentle and mellow.”

The show features 1,109 dogs from 143 breeds on March 30, and 872 dogs from 138 breeds on March 31, say officials from the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association, which is part of the American Kennel Club. Each day is a separate competition and results in a “Best in Show” award for the top dog, which can be anything from a poodle to a Great Dane. The show typically attracts about 10,000 visitors, who can admire the dogs and learn about breeds they might be interested in getting for their homes, officials say.

Shelley Caldwell — a nurse from Finleyville, Washington County — is showing one of her Lassie-like rough collies at the dog show. The pooch's proper competition name is Millcreek's Like a Hurricane, but her casual call name is Brie. Brie has competed in many shows and won many Best of Breed awards, but this will be her first time in the Pittsburgh show.

Brie and her competitors will strut into show rings, where judges will evaluate them. Caldwell's 4-year-old dog seems to love the attention.

“She's friendly toward everyone,” says Caldwell, 58. “She wags her tail to the judge. ... She is quite the show girl.”

“My whole idea about dog shows for me is to have fun with my dog,” Caldwell says. “It's always fun to win ... but that's not always the sole reason to go there.”

Dr. Katherine Gardner, a veterinarian, will be taking her bull terrier — Apprentice Heroine at Bobkat, who goes by the call name of Madeline. The 16-month-old dog will compete with other female members of her breed at similar ages. Madeline already has experience: She competed as a puppy and won an award.

Gardner — owner of Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital in Washington, Washington County — has been showing dogs for more than 40 years and has bred Siberian husky dogs. Her show dogs, she says, “like having the attention.”

“There's always food involved. What dog can turn down good food?” says Gardner, 68, of Amity, Washington County. “They like the winning and good applause. They like to feel good about themselves.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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