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Pretty girl goes to big city

(ran East edition)

They must raise them right in Lutz - dogs, that is. That's because one of their own was to be on national TV, competing in the world's most prestigious dog show.

Her name is CH Arimich Zinnia Von Links SL, but you can call her Zoey.

Bred, born and raised in Lutz, she's in New York City to compete in this year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The event, held Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, was televised live both nights on the USA Network.

"It's amazing," said Zoey's owner, Connie Delaney, an assistant principal at Gaither High School. "Even being invited is like winning the lottery."

Zoey, a 3-year-old standard longhair dachshund, is one of only 21 longhair dachshunds worldwide invited to compete in what is often referred to as "America's dog show."

Delaney, who lives in Lutz, said: "Whoever wins out of the longhair division will go to the "hound group' on Tuesday night. And the winners go to best in show."

Zoey, though, is already a champion. She won Best Longhair in Show at the Gulf Coast Dachshund Show last summer in Manatee County. And "she beat the longhair minidachshund that just won the longhair dachshund breed at Eukanuba," Delaney said.

At the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship last month, 3,500 pooches pranced into downtown Tampa to compete for the crown.

Delaney has owned longhair dachshunds for 25 years. She now has two, Zoey and Zoey's 14-year-old brother.

"I've had champions but never gotten to Westminster," she said.

In its 130th year, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in this country, just one year behind the Kentucky Derby. Aficionados say it has become the symbol of the purebred dog, in show rings as well as in millions of homes across America.

But what's Zoey like in her own home?

"She does her dog things," Delaney said. "She plays with toys, plays and digs holes."

Zoey's kennel name is Arimich, which has two locations, one in Wesley Chapel; the other in Gilbert, Ariz.

Heather Denham and Lucy Granoweiz are the breeders for the Wesley Chapel kennel. Eileen Lebut heads the Arizona chapter.

"We breed back and forth," Delaney said. "Zoey's grandfather is in Arizona, and her mother's in Lutz." But it's not all about shows.

"We could have more wins," Delaney said, "but she is only shown by me or her breeders. We don't send her out with handlers."

It's also not all about lineage and breeding.

"I love animals," Delaney said, "but I don't do a lot of breeding because I have a tendency to keep everybody."

Jackie Ripley can be reached at or at (813) 269-5308.