1,000 dogs strut their stuff at Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show

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Four Chesapeake Bay retrievers cavorted at ringside, waiting for their turns to compete in the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show Sunday in Monroeville. For 8-month-old puppies Elvis and Piper, it was a family reunion because they are litter mates, and they also have the same canine mother as Duke, 3, and Flow, 17 months.

Nearly 1,000 dogs were entered in the show at the Monroeville Convention Center, and only one wins the coveted Best In Show trophy. Eight Chesapeake Bay retrievers were entered, and only one wins the Best of Breed Rosette. But in American Kennel Club shows, there are many ways to win. Dawn Logan of Charleroi had more chances to win, because she is the breeder of the four dogs.

After wrestling with her brother, Piper got down to business, and trotted around the ring with owner-handler Dana Jeffreys of Ligonier. It was only their second time in the show ring together, and North Flow Pay The Piper left with a first-place blue ribbon in the "puppy bitches" class.

Barking up the right tree

Nearly 1,000 dogs turned out for the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association's show at the Monroeville Convention Center. (Video by Nate Guidry; 4/06/2014)

"Of course she was the only puppy in the class, but she did really well," Mrs. Jeffreys said. Puppies seldom beat out adult dogs, but good puppies and dogs get better with practice and experience in the show ring.

Piper's brother Elvis -- North Flow Take The Weather With You -- won the "puppy dogs" class, advanced in the competition and beat out some adult dogs to get the ribbon for Winners Dog -- best male -- and one point toward his championship title. Owners Walt and Carol Lipinski of Irwin were thrilled.

Robert Jeffreys, Dana Jeffreys' husband, took up dog-showing six months ago as a post-retirement hobby. He handled Pond Hollow Hollywood Blue, 15 months old, to the Best In Breed win Sunday, beating out a 3-year-old grand champion.

They advanced to the "group" judging, competing against all of the dogs that won Best of Breed in the sporting dog group -- made up of dogs that were bred to find and retrieve birds. They didn't win, but "group" competition is like an Academy Award nomination -- it's an honor just to be there.

Grand Champion Flow Incommunicado, Duke, owned by the Lipinskis and bred by Ms. Logan, had won Best In Breed on Saturday.

Wins were sweeter for the owners of the "Chessies" because they were handling their own dogs, instead of hiring professional handlers.

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are a true "made in America" dog. The breed dates to 1807 when an English ship wrecked off the coast of Maryland and two Newfoundland dogs were rescued and bred with other dogs to develop a breed that resembles Labrador retrievers, but with a short, hard wiry outer coat. They are especially good at hunting and retrieving water birds in icy water, but they are good pets for families that will give them a lot of exercise and outdoor activity.

The dogs bred by Ms. Logan are brown, but Chesapeake Bay retrievers also come in rusty goldish colors that breeders call "sedge" or "deadgrass."

Competitions on Saturday and Sunday were two separate shows. Though many of the dogs competed both days, the judges were different each day, as were most of the top winners.

The Best In Show winner on Sunday was an Affenpinscher, Grand Champion Yarrow's Hi-Tech Ben There Done That, 3, owned by William Truesdale and Letisha Wubbell of Seekonk, Mass.

Best In Show winner on Saturday was a German shepherd, Champion Woodsides Megabucks, 4, owned by Kiki Courtelis, Joyce Wilkinson and Jodi and Jason Duin of Paris, Ky.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0087.

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