DANVILLE -- Max the dog is training up for his last hurrah.
He's in Washington state, away from home, and getting the works. The standard schnauzer is working out with his trainer, being groomed and massaged, and he has even paid a few visits to a canine chiropractor to get in shape.
It's all in preparation for his big time in New York City, when Max (Charisma Maxim Von Diable) arrives at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
His owners, Linda and John Adiletti from the Blackhawk area of Danville, hope for a good showing at the Feb. 11-12 show, and for good reason. The 6-year-old schnauzer had a banner year in 2012 with 11 "Best in Shows" and 38 "Working Group" first places. He was the 2012 Northern California Standard Schnauzer Specialty winner, the Knickerbocker Standard Schnauzer Specialty winner and Standard Schnauzer National Specialty winner.
His trainer says he racked up so many dog show points, that he was the nation's No. 1 standard schnauzer in 2012.
This will be Max's third and last time at Westminster. After 2 ½ years of nearly nonstop competition, he will retire as a show dog and return home.
John Adiletti said having a show dog has been an expensive hobby but a labor of love. He and his wife have plenty of trophies, medallions and silver bowls to show for it, but dog shows aren't big for prize money.
"Max is the Porsche that's not parked in my driveway," he said.
At Westminster, Max will compete against 2,721 dogs from 187 breeds that come from all 50 states plus Brazil, Germany, Croatia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Mexico.
He will be one of about 60 Bay Area dogs competing said David Frei, a spokesman for the kennel club. California is sending the second largest contingent to this year's show with 228 dogs, behind New York at 287.
The Westminster show, first held in 1877, is America's second-longest continuously held sporting event. Only the Kentucky Derby has had a longer run.
"It's pretty exciting and can be overwhelming at the same time," Linda Adiletti said. "We're proud as punch" to be going to Westminster, she said. "It's a complete thrill."
"It's a pretty big deal," said Max's trainer and handler, Tiffany Skinner. "It's a beauty pageant and a sports event."
Max is now in Washington, where Skinner lives. She keeps him in shape by taking him for walks and hikes and letting him chase a neighbor's goat herd.
"He's probably one of the coolest dogs I've ever worked with," she said. "He has a wonderful temperament."
The Adilettis attend some of the bigger shows and all the California and Oregon ones.
"We've seen some of the garden spots of California, like Lompoc, Turlock, Hanford ..." John Adiletti said. "And everywhere else."
John said he and his wife fell into the world of dog shows when a groomer told them they should try showing their schnauzer Sadie.
"We did and she kept winning and winning and winning and she became the number one standard schnauzer female in 2007 and '08," he said.
Sadie competed at Westminster in 2007 and won "Best of Opposite Sex," meaning a male dog took first place in the breed and she was picked as the best female.
The Adilettis decided to get another schnauzer and bought Max from Danville breeders Rhonda and Paul Davis. Max was the pick of the litter and turned out to be the winningest standard schnauzer in the country for the past 11 years.
Win or lose at Westminster, Max will return home to be a regular pet alongside Sadie.
Max will also take up occasional stud dog work.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.