Edith Cibelli has bred and shown poodles for 25 years, but now she is "into" West White Highland Terriers.
"And, boy," she said, "do I have a good one."
So Cibelli, 50, and her small terrier, Storyland's Mark Twain, drove down from Connecticut last week to participate in the largest dog show in the United States, the 84th all-breed show held near Centreville in Fairfax County last Saturday, sponsored by the Old Dominion Kennel Club.
For dog owners such as Cibelli, it was one of several stops on the Cherry Blossom show circuit. But for everyone else it was a dog lover's extravaganza, with nearly 4,000 dogs representing all the American Kennel Club's 134 recognized breeds.
"It's just a great day for dogs," said Patty O'Brien, 45, who had come from Baltimore to watch.
As more than 10,000 people piled into the 1,800-acre Bull Run Regional Park, the humid spring air began smelling of pizza and lemonade, sausage, hot dogs -- and dogs.
There were 198 Labrador Retrievers in the show, 56 Doberman Pinschers, 158 Great Pyranees, 64 Boxers, 67 Siberian Huskies, 97 Dachshunds, 59 Rottweilers, 61 Basset Hounds, 46 German Shepherds, 109 German Shorthaired Pointers and 78 Poodles.
Joan Scott, 45, of Wilmington, Del., leaned over a grooming table, wearing a gold replica of a poodle on a chain around her neck, and brushed a miniature black poodle named Tiopepi Smart Move CynPam's.
"The most difficult part of poodle grooming is learning proper scissoring," she said. "Because, you can make any shape you want with the hair, to hide faults, or to emphasize good points. It's a fun breed because you get to camouflage and sculpt."
Scott had given the black poodle an English Saddle trim, which was not the same, she said, as the Continental clip given another poodle at the next grooming table.
"Do you see how the rear end is handled differently?" she asked. "On the Continental, you leave two rosettes of hair on the hips, and the whole rest of the rear end is shaved off."
Scott drove to the show in a Ford Econoline van, but other dog owners flooded the park with motor homes and station wagons, many with bumper stickers that said "Have You Hugged Your Dog Today?" or "We Love Chow-Chows."
One New York license plate said "Bichon" for Bichon Frise, a small dog. Another said "4-Pawz."
Representatives from the dog clubs turned out, too: the Scottish Deerhound Club of America, the Mason-Dixon Collie Club, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America, the Capital Keeshond Club.
The dog owners were trailed by the dog vendors, selling everything from wire brushes and Welsh Corgi windchimes to flea cures and "Love-Is-A-Bulldog" doormats.
Bobbie Armstrong, a 27-year-old surgical nurse from Birmingham, Ala., and the wife of a veterinarian, camped at the park the night before the show with her two-year-old Standard Schnauzer, Charisma Chardonnay.
Two hours before her class, Armstrong had the dog on a grooming table inside the tent and was brushing gray chin hairs.
"She doesn't mind this," said Armstrong. "She puts up with it because I want her to."
By noon, with the temperature climbing near 90, dog owners not lucky enough to have pitched a tent sought the shade of tall trees or striped camper awnings.
Herb Varney, 55, of Huntington, W. Va., and his wife LaWussa, 52, sat in matching lawn chairs under the awning of their Winnebago reading "Dog News." Near them, in a wire pen, were five Boxers.
"We're only showing two of them," Varney said. "The others just came along for the ride. We're camping here with the dogs. It's not so bad. We used to camp with five Boxers in one van."
Varney's dogs looked hot.
"Well, the short-nosed breeds have a little more trouble breathing in this weather," Varney said. "Bulldogs are real bad in the heat. And, you should see the Pekes Pekingese ."
Some dog owners had brought professional handlers and groomers. Others, like Cibelli, owner of the small white terrier, used the show as an opportunity to learn.
She spent part of the morning being shown how to rub chalk into her terrier puppy's coat to brighten it. When last seen, about midday, Cibelli was standing in the shade of a motor home, spraying liquid shampoo onto the terrier's head.
"I guess this is what I'm supposed to do," she said.
Others, who owned dogs but who were not showing them, helped with the many picnics sponsored by various groups.
At the Metropolitan Washington Dachshund Club table, Donna Kennedy of Vienna unwrapped trays of cookies she had baked in the shape of Dachshunds, with red frosting collars. She said she just had a general interest in canine goings on.
"I come to all these dog things," she said.
By the end of the day, a wirehaired Fox Terrier from Illinois, Forchlas Cariad, had captured Best-In-Show. A miniature poodle from New Jersey, Andechez There-Goes-Timothy, scored highest in obediance.
As for Cibelli's small white terrier, he also won a prize -- as expected.
After all the brushing and nail-trimming, the chalk-dustings and head shampoo, Storyland's Mark Twain turned out to be the only dog in his class.