Keep an eye out for Romeo if you're tuning in to watch some of the early Westminster breed competitions online.
He's a comer.
Earning his way to become the No. 1 German pinscher in the nation by the end of 2012, Romeo - formally known as Bronze GCH Clefell's Romeo - will make his Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show debut this year.
But if you live in Torrance, you may have already seen Romeo and his owner, Magno Salva, taking their morning runs in Wilson Park.
"You can't help but get nervous," said Salva, a health care consulting recruiter who lives in Torrance and will handle Romeo in the ring himself rather than hire a professional handler.
The goal, he said, is to "have fun with your dog and know that you did your best, that you tried your hardest."
It's a splurge - neither Romeo nor his owner have ever been to Westminster. They've shown mostly in the West to avoid the costs of plane travel.
Among those who will be watching how they do from California is Gloria Henderson, Salva's conformation handling instructor.
"Magno is a natural, he moves very smoothly with his dog," said Henderson of her former student from the Lomita Obedience Training Club. Romeo, she said, "has done just exceptionally well."
Romeo, the second German pinscher Salva's entered in the dog show, comes from a litter born in Finland and is just 21 months old. Salva's biggest worry is that he'll do something puppylike - or just be unfocused in the ring.
The hardest thing he's had to learn about handling his own dog in the show ring is confidence.
"Your confidence will transfer through the lead" to the dog, he said. "I'm still learning. ... A lot of it is mental and psychological."
As for Romeo, he loves being in the ring, Salva said.
"He's very happy, he walks around with confidence when he's in the ring, his head is up and his tail is up."
How will they do at Westminster?
"I think we have a good chance," he said. "I think we'll be noticed."
German pinschers (eight, including Romeo, are entered in the show) will appear in Ring 5 at noon Tuesday (9 a.m. PST). Watch a live stream of the judging at www.westminsterkennelclub.org/ or by downloading the free Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
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