Dog breeders have their day at Cape show

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Some 700 canines from across the country came to compete at the Arena Building.

The first year Jere Marder was married, she expected something special for Christmas.

"I thought I was going to get a pair of diamond earrings," the Chicago woman said.

Her husband gave her an Old English sheep dog puppy instead.

That led to 27 years of breeding, showing and loving dogs. Marder brought two female sheep dogs with her Saturday at the Southeast Missouri Kennel Club's dog show at the Arena Building. Some 700 dogs representing 105 breeds came from across the country to compete -- and to charm anyone within petting distance.

Among them were Marder's Desdemona and Divine Miss M. Desdemona took best of show at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City and won at the AKC Eukanuba Invitational in January. Miss M wasn't competing but just tagged along to get a feel for shows.

Marder said her dogs have enabled her to travel to places she never dreamed she'd visit. She's been to Australia, Argentina and Germany and recently returned from Japan because the new owners of one of her puppies brought her over to make sure the human/dog match was a good one.

"It's been a thorough joy," she said of her association with the dogs.

People who breed and show dogs are themselves a breed apart. Nobody gets into dog breeding to make money, said Stacy Busch of Cape Girardeau, one of the coordinators of the show.

There's no prize money involved, just a ribbon and a trophy and bragging rights for the owners. Male dogs will command stud services, and puppies from the females will be in high demand.

Another show, involving most of the same entries, is scheduled for today. Busch said that most clubs that sponsor shows usually have two a year. They have learned to have them back to back in the same weekend to make it easier on everyone involved.

The winner of Saturday's best of show was an Irish wolfhound named Manasota Montrachet Moon, owned by Mike Verble of Englewood, Fla.

Busch said that winning dogs often have just the right attitude.

One dog with the right attitude was Tag, a 5-year-old German shepherd owned by Daphne Szczuka of St. Louis.

On Saturday, Tag won best of breed and the heart of anyone who came near. In 2004, he was named the No. 2 German shepherd in the country, and won an award of merit at Westminster this year.

Szczuka said Tag not only works as a therapy dog in St. Louis-area elementary schools, he also kept her from having to hire a nurse when she broke her shoulder a year ago after she slipped in the show ring. The dog would help her out of her chair and would walk with her so she could steady herself by leaning on him.

One night while she was asleep, Tag roused her husband from sleep and led him to her.

"Apparently he didn't like the way I was breathing," she said. "He is my life saver."

Mar-Lee Man About Town, known to his friends as Manny, is 10 months old but only two points away from being a champion beagle, said his owner, Tina Boothroyd of Springfield, Mo.

Manny entered his first show Memorial Day weekend and sniffed out the winning title every day of the four-day event. Then he chased down 11 points at a show last weekend.

On Saturday, he took best of breed.

Boothroyd said she has been showing dogs for 54 years as a professional handler, showing dogs full time for assorted owners. After some illnesses and surgeries, she retired -- sort of. Now she's showing Manny.

"I wanted to enjoy showing my own dogs in the last years I have," she said. "I'll probably die showing dogs in the ring."

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