Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2,000 Dogs Embark on Beauty Competition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2,000 Dogs Embark on Beauty Competition

Article excerpt

A Doberman pinscher named Zima has brains and beauty, which is how he earned the right to have a title in front of his name and another behind. He's 10 years old, so his dog show days have been behind him for a long time.

But Zima is making a bit of a comeback this weekend, when he participates in rally competition, a new event Saturday and Sunday at shows sponsored by the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association Inc. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

More than 2,000 dogs are competing in conformation, which is the beauty pageant portion of dog competition, where dogs are judged on their appearance, gait and conformity with the normal expectations for their breed. There are 350 entries in agility and 100 in obedience trials and Junior Showmanship for handlers 10 to 18 years old.

Zima will be one of the 100 entries in rally. In the dog show catalog, his name will be listed as Ch. Zima Is Mine Always, CD.

The first title stands for "champion" and was earned in conformation competition, from which he is now retired. The second title, Companion Dog, was awarded in obedience competition.

Young dogs rule in conformation competition. Many owners don't enter older dogs in obedience or agility because those events include jumping over hurdles, which can put stress on elderly joints.

There's no jumping in rally, and it's basically a lot easier than obedience trials. The dog and handler compete at their own pace, as opposed to the high-speed running required in agility.

"It's very motivating for the dog," said Deb Otlano, of West Mifflin, Zima's owner. "You talk to the dog the entire time," which is not permitted in obedience trials. Zima had enjoyed competing in dog shows, "and this will get him back in the swing of things."

The rally judge designs a course, which is marked off in cones like those used for traffic control.

The judge tells the handler and dog to move forward. Then the handler follows signs that tell the handler and dog what they should do next.

When Otlano and Zima aren't navigating the rally course, Otlano will be working at the shows. …

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