RALEIGH — Matt Fisher led his two-year-old dachshund, Ollie, into the show ring, sat him down and pointed his right hand at the dog as if it were a gun.
"Bang bang," Fisher said.
Ollie immediately rolled onto his back and stuck his front legs in the air as if he were a frozen corpse. The crowd roared.
It was a pet trick worthy of David Letterman, but it wasn't enough for Ollie to repeat as the champ in N.C. State University's 18th Annual Dog Olympics on Saturday.
The gold medal for best trick went to Niko, an 18-month-old German shepherd and border collie mix who twirled to his left and right before flopping to the ground in a "kind of doggie-worm" dance, said his owner, Andy Uhl, proprietor of the Darwin K9 dog training company.
The judge, David Dorman, an associate dean at N.C. State's vet school, said Niko's trick carried a higher degree of difficulty. Both dogs and their owners live in Raleigh.
Ollie and Niko were among the scores of poodles, great Danes and nearly every purebred or mutt in between that competed in the olympics. By the day's end, 60 medals were handed out in 20 categories ranging from Frisbee catch to Halloween costume.
The event is an opportunity for NCSU veterinary students to raise money for area rescue shelters and to promote good pet care practices. The Raleigh Kennel Club offered free microchip implants to help identify pets.
Last year, the event raised $1,800, which was split among six rescue groups. Roughly 750 people and their dogs attended -- making 2008 the olympics' best year, said Bobbi McQuown, a third-year vet school student and president of NCSU's American Animal Hospital Association chapter.
This year, the olympics moved from the NCSU campus to Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. Roughly 600 dog lovers enjoyed a warm, sunny day in the tree-shaded square.
Limbo and lounging
Not everyone showed up with plans to compete. Jane Norland of Dunn brought daughters Jennifer, 9, and Heather, 6, to the competition along with their toy poodle, Cutie Pie. They planned to be observers, but the limbo contest caught their attention.
"I thought we might win because [Cutie Pie] is the smallest dog," Heather said.
Sure enough, the two-year-old woolly black poodle easily slipped under the lowest rung for gold.
John Dubois of Wake Forest brought his son, Jack, 4, and daughter, Kaylee, 6, because they want to adopt a dog from a rescue program and the olympics allowed them to see all kinds of dogs. They were leaning toward a border collie late Saturday morning.
They liked the new setting. Jack ran to a sweet gum tree and jumped up onto a low branch.
"Between climbing trees and looking at dogs, it's a good day," Dubois said.
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