Dozens of dachshunds trotted their way into the Berks County 4-H Community Center on Sunday for the Dachshund Fanciers Association of Berks County's 31st annual independent specialty show.

Nearly 50 smooth, long-haired and wire-haired dogs strutted their stuff in front of judges for a chance to take home titles and money for their owners.

"Today has been a very good show," said Kristen Gerling, the show chairwoman who has been involved in dog shows for the past three years. "We've had some outstanding competitors; it has been very fun."

The event drew seasoned competitors from near and far, such as Michele Kelepalas, 61, and her long-haired dachshund, Buddy, from Stony Brook, N.Y.

For 35 years, Kelepalas has traveled to other states, such as Ohio, Georgia and Massachusetts, competing and breeding dachshunds, a hobby she regards as an addiction.

"I went to my first dog show as a teenager and never let up," Kelepalas said. "I have always had a love for dogs and especially for pedigree specials."

Kelepalas and Buddy took a victory lap Sunday when the dog was named Winners Dog, Longhaired Classes. She said that traveling and competing is something that many are not cut out for.

"There is camaraderie here but there is also a lot of tense competition," Kelepalas said. "We prepare our dogs with lot of training and socialization."

"It is a fine art," she added. "The dedicated breeder needs to have a good eye and has to look at the blood lines and be honest with themselves about their breeds."

The event also welcomed newcomers such as Kevin and Kathy Herkelman of Elizabethtown, whose dog, Wrigley, won Winner's Dog, Smooth Class.

"I enjoy it a lot," Kathy Herelman said. "This is our first show and we're just starting with him (Wrigley). It is something to work on and present it in the right place "

The couple said that as much fun as it is to win, the interest lies in preparation.

"You are always trying to get better," Kevin Herkelman said. "There is no perfect dog, but we still strive for it."

Contact Anthony Orozco: 610-371-5015 or