Best (and worst) in Carson City dog show |

Best (and worst) in Carson City dog show

Peter Thompson/Nevada Appeal Maureen Griffith celebrates with her dachshund, Heidi. The four-legged looker took home the title of "Carson City's Cutest Dog."

They came to win, noses down, sniffing out the competition.

Terriers, dachshunds, tea-cup poodles, a herd of chihuahuas and assorted mongrel mixes that would take even the most highly trained geneticist a lifetimes to decipher the bloodlines.

It wasn’t quite the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but every dog had its day at the first “Cutest and Ugliest Dog of Carson City Contest” held at the Sierra Veterinary Hospital.

The contest was part of a book-launch party and signing for “Happy Tails,” a humorous tome full of helpful hints for dog owners, co-authored by Joy Underhill and longtime veterinarian Dr. Gary Ailes.

Presiding over the somewhat tongue-in-cheek affair was Municipal Judge John Tatro, dressed in full tuxedo and ready to adjudicate in a field he confidently described as “an absolute science.”

“I’ll be looking mostly at teeth,” said Tatro, noncommittally. “Curvature of the tail is also very important,” he said, trying his best to keep a straight face.

“What if they don’t have a tail?” somebody asked.

A good point.

But with just five minutes left to go before final judging, the tension in the waiting room was dog-eat-dog, almost literally. Unfounded rumors abounded that Mayor-elect Marv Teixeira might be bringing his bulldog. A ringer?

Contestant “Harley,” a 10-month-old leather-clad bulldog playfully lunged at some of her competitors.

A chorus of perturbed barking ensued. The tension was getting to everyone. “Charlie,” a 1-year-old golden retriever danced around in energetic circles. It seemed as though Judge Tatro might have to hold a few canines in contempt.

The judge’s own entry, “Sherman Tank,” a South African-born bulldog in bumble bee costume stayed calm as the fur flew, despite only completing two sessions of doggy training.

“He got all upset at the last class because a basset hound growled at him,” explained Kathy Tatro.

With just a few ticks of the clock, in strutted “Bella,” a supernaturally primped standard poodle, decked out in everything but a diamond tiara, her manicured toenails painted a wine-stain purple.

Adorable 11-week-old Bischon Frise, “Mozzik” (Yiddish for “little mischief maker”), hiding under the protective arm of owner, Suzie Hunt, peered out at the crowd.

But the day belonged to Ugliest Dog “Harley,” owned by John Breuer; and 8-year-old dapple dachshund “Heidi,” owned by Maureen Griffith, winner of the coveted “Carson City’s Cutest Dog” title.

“Heidi,” dressed in a patriotic Stars and Stripes two-piece (one of her 46 outfits) has a resumé that includes a Honda commercial. “We’re just elated with happiness,” said Griffith, then noted that it was almost the winner’s bedtime.

“She can’t wait to go back and climb into her satin sheets and go to sleep.”

A very pampered pooch, indeed.

Winners received official plaques and a signed copy of “Happy Tails.”

The book is written from a dog’s perspective, and full of illustrations and cartoons.

“Baby boomers are replacing children with pets,” says Genevieve Frederick of start-up imprint Paw Publishing. “It’s a great demographic. I wanted to put out something funny and fun.”

“Happy Tails” is available at, local pet stores and on

Contact reporter Peter Thompson at or 881-1215.