Three-year-old Carlie of Aberdeen, Md., will be an arresting sight among the sea of approximately 1,000 poodles strutting through the Prince George's County Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro starting Monday.
Resembling a mop bleached sparkling white, Carlie will be the only "corded" entrant in the annual Poodle Club of America competition that lasts through June 18. (Her tresses are gathered in loose cords that flop like white dreadlocks all over her body.)
Carlie's looks aren't the only characteristic that owner Charla Allman expects to enchant judges and make the dog stand out among hundreds of participants from the United States and Canada.
"Carlie has never met a stranger," said Allman, who owns Somerset Grooming in Aberdeen, a company named after Carlie's great-grandmother, who hailed from Somerset County, England. Her great-grandmother also was the inspiration for Carlie's show name, Somerset Sweet Success. Eleven years ago, Allman abandoned her career as an editor and English teacher to open the pet grooming business and spend more time with her six dogs, all poodles.
Carlie "is very gregarious and very happy all the time," Allman says.
The dog's personality may score some points with the judges, but during their two-minute inspection, they will also hawkishly appraise how closely she matches the American Kennel Club-approved standards. They will inspect whether her skin is "definite enough to preclude snippiness" and whether her gait is "a straightforward trot with a light, springy action."
But no less important is her temperament. The pup must be very active and intelligent and have "about him an air of distinction, a dignity peculiar to himself."
In other competitions, the dogs will obey obedience commands, find their owners' possessions in a pile of objects touched by several different people and demonstrate their agility.
"Agility is quite the up-and-coming thing right now," says Janice Pardue, show chairman for the Poodle Club of America. The dogs will dash through tunnels, balance on teeter-totters and leap around polls.
"It's a wonder," Pardue says. "It just proves that these dogs can do just about anything."
The annual Poodle Club of America Show runs from Monday to June 18 at the Prince George's County Equestrian Center, 14900 Pennsylvania Ave., Upper Marlboro. Admission is free. For more information, call 301-952-7900.
CAPTION: Owner Charla Allman says Carlie is "very happy all the time."
CAPTION: Carlie, aka Somerset Sweet Success, is the only "corded" entrant in the annual Poodle Club of America competition.