Puppy Love

Yapping it up at the 15th Annual Pride of Pets dog show

By Doug Rule
Photographs by Ward Morrison
Published on June 26, 2008, 12:00am | Comments

What does it take to win at the Pride of Pets dog show?

Last Saturday, June 21, obedience was the key for Gordon Ng's Simba, a beautiful husky malamute, who fetched the ball and rolled over repeatedly better than his competition. But unlike other dog shows, this ''fun dog show'' allows for disobedience, which is where Phil shined.

When Phil's owner, Jim, threw the ball, the cute little mutt chased after it for a couple seconds, then opted to sniff around the grass. Soon enough he found the right spot, lifted his leg and marked his territory. He looked up at Jim as he did, while the ball remained a foot away, un-retrieved. It was no contest: Phil won as Least Obedient dog, with the crowd laughing in approval.

And then there was Gizmo, the itty-bitty, 15-week-old Chihuahua who only had to show up to win. He didn't even have to make the sounds that earned him his name. ''When he barks and gets excited, he sounds just like a Gremlin,'' said his handler, Nick DiBlasio. After Gizmo won the People's Choice Award for Best of Show, a crowd swarmed, with several little girls asking to hold the clearly exhausted dog.

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Best Vocal Performance: Peanuts
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All told, there were about 50 canine contestants in 17 amusing categories, ranging from Best Tail Wagging to Best Mirror Image to Most Glamorous. The three-hour show, led by the born-to-emcee David Peiffer and ringmaster Arnold Mixon, is held annually in the southwest section of Dupont Circle.

''It was a great turnout, and great weather,'' said Pets-DC Executive Director Chip Wells about the event, which drew hundreds of spectators. The forecasted rain never materialized, leaving only sun and fun: a good time for a good cause.

The all-volunteer Pets-DC helps care for the pets of people living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling conditions. The dog show is the organization's annual fundraiser. Each contestant pays a fee to compete and other partner organizations sponsor the categories -- the Washington Renegades rugby team, for example, sponsored the Most Obedient category; Metro Weekly, meanwhile, sponsored the Least Obedient.

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Scarlet Foundation presentation
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The show features a panel of judges. ''We have to have a panel,'' explained Wells, ''because it's a difficult choice. How do you tell 30 contestants that their dog is not the Most Adorable?'' This year's judges represented sponsoring partner organizations, including the Scarlet Foundation, which presented Pets-DC and fellow partner Food and Friends each with checks for $5,673, money raised during the foundation's February bake sale at the DC Eagle.

''A day like today makes me realize how much I miss Malcolm,'' said Wells, about his dog who passed away in January. In fact, Wells is thinking of adopting one of the two dogs the Washington Animal Rescue League, another partner organization, paraded around available for adoption. One was a Hurricane Katrina survivor.

''I don't know his history,'' Wells said about one of the dogs. ''But how can you go wrong with a dog named Bubblegum?''

For more information about Pets-DC and its services, visit www.petsdc.org or call 202-234-PETS.


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