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Dog days in the country


Summer is a coming-out party for show dogs and their fanciers. It is a scene far removed from the drear confines of winter competition, those halls and malls, armories and auditoriums. The atmosphere is reminiscent of oldtime county fairs as good friends—and bitter rivals—who travel the dog-show circuit chat away, curbing the chill in the jealous glances that they cast at their competition in the quest for AKC championship points. It is harder, somehow, to freeze a foe in shirt sleeves, to get truly heated when the days themselves are hot. Ribbons of sunlight ease the anguish when the ribbons of silk go elsewhere. All this was discovered on a Connecticut weekend by Artist Mike Ramus, who admits to having no expertise in doggery but is something of an authority on the humors of humans. "The dogs were the stars," Ramus says. "But in the end it turned out to be a people show." So, dogs, let's have a loud chorus of barks—gay, summer barks, if you please—for people.

Outside the big top covering the judging rings is a canine circus that reveals the best show is not always inside.