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Mixed-breed dogs able to compete, owner says


Michele M. Sanders would like her dog to earn its legs, a term used in dog show circles for the qualifying scores earned in competition.

She is forming her own organization to help the pooch win points.

The Westminster resident said she is confident the 19-month-old dog would perform well for judges, but Jessie's mixed-breed status makes her canine non grata at American Kennel Club shows.

"The AKC is an organization for purebred dogs," said Beatrice Connelly, AKC judge and dog trainer. "How could the organization as a purebred registry compromise its criteria?"

What matters is how the dog performs before a judge, said Ms. Sanders, not bloodline.

After training Jessie with Ms. Connelly for several months, Ms. Sanders is ready to try her pet in the ring. To win certification, the 50-pound dog, of Labrador and Doberman lineage, must compete successfully at three dog shows.

"She needs three sets of high scores from three qualifying shows, but the AKC won't let us in," said Ms. Sanders.

The American Mixed Breed Obedience Registration sponsors judged shows but has no local chapter. Rather than drive hours to a competition, Ms. Sanders and several local dog owners are forming the Central Maryland Mixed Breed Association for those interested in showing their dogs.

At the first meeting this week, members decided to launch their campaign.

"We would educate the public to responsible ownership and hold sanctioned events of our own," said Ms. Sanders.

"The CD [companion dog] is the basic minimum rank for all dogs. It's as though you don't have a wonderful dog until you get past that point."

In the mixed-breed competitions, judges would adhere to AKC rules.

"It will take time," said Ms. Sanders. "We have to show people mixed breeds can do as well as purebreds."

With thousands of unwanted dogs destroyed every year, Ms. Sanders advocates adopting one of the unwanted. She volunteers each week at the Baltimore County Humane Society and can attest to the availability of loving pets, she said.

She found Jessie there last November, cowering in the back of a kennel. She has been training the dog ever since she brought her home. Now, she wants to see how judges rate Jessie.

"She is so beautiful I want the whole world to see her," she said.

Shows for mutts are few and far between, said Nancy Jackson, who has competed with her mixed-breed dog. She said breed has little to do with obedience.

"My dog just won best behaved in a recent contest and was the only mixed-breed entered," she said.

Ms. Jackson calls the dog shows "a great sport and a lot of fun." The trial comes with finding a local show willing to admit mixed-breeds, she said.

Mary Beth Ingson also has been searching for a show where her mixed-breed can compete.

"Showing a dog makes the owner feel better about what the dog has learned," she said. "The limited number of shows gives us a tough time getting titles for our dogs."

Ms. Sanders is driving three hours tomorrow to Philadelphia, where she will stand in an unshaded soccer field for several more hours. What will be an endurance test for her is an obedience test for Jessie.

Until the new group gets a footing on the show circuit, she is willing to go the distance to help Jessie earn her legs.

Information: 857-4992.

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