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Doggy Style

Looks aren't everything at Syd Friedman's beauty pageant.

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The competitors at Syd Friedman's third annual beauty pageant won't be insulted if you call them dogs. In fact, considering that they are canines -- and the contest is the National U.S.A. Beauty Pageant Goes to the Dogs -- it's to be expected. "The contestants can have pedigrees or no degrees," says 85-year-old Friedman, a longtime theatrical agent and event promoter. "Any one of them has a chance to win."

Unlike traditional lineage-based contests, where competition is dog-eat-dog, everybody comes to Friedman's pageant for fun. Still, he adds, the better-looking dogs are more apt to walk away with awards (it is, after all, a beauty pageant). Judges also look for proper physique, grooming, and -- roll over, Westminster -- funniest costume.

Peggy Jedlicka, owner of Thunder, a vegetarian German Shepherd, is going for the contest's big prize: a painting of her dog by artist Elinore Korow. "I'm not going to tell what Thunder's going to wear," Jedlicka teases. "I'll just hint that it'll be something out of one of Grimms' fairy tales."

The contest is divided into four weight categories, so smaller pups needn't worry about going up against big dogs like Thunder. And contrary to the requirements of previous pageants, the dogs aren't expected to perform stunts on command. You can thank Cricket, the collie mix who won last year's contest paws down, for that. "Cricket was just a little too good," Friedman says. "We thought it would be unfair for the other dogs to compete against such talent."

Local TV meteorologist Dick Goddard, last year's master of ceremonies, found out firsthand just how sore some of the losers can be: One relieved itself on his leg. But Goddard has no bones to pick -- he'll return this year to emcee. "It's all for a good cause," he says.

Indeed. Proceeds are donated to the Berea Animal Rescue Fund. "I've promoted all kinds of events to help people," Friedman says. "I thought it was time to help animals."

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