Dogs, owners put best feet forward for AKC event
“It is now time for the Yorkshire Terriers,” says an announcer.
Kathy Vance, 68, of Georgetown, Ky. runs one more brush stroke through her Yorkshire Terrier Adele before rushing to the ring.
“It’s your time,” says Vance to Adele. “You can do this.”
Bark, bark, bark.
Adele struts her stuff around the ring with her head held high. The two complete two laps around one of the show rings at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Thursday.
“We’ve protected this hair for this moment,” said Vance. “A lot of brushing, a lot of shampooing.”
Bark, bark, bark, bark.
Adele is just one of Vance’s nine show Yorkshire Terriers. This lifestyle is something Adele was born into. For 15 years, Vance has shown her dogs at dog shows all over the country.
“I really got into this sport whenever I was in 4-H as a young girl,” she said. “I showed my dad’s hunting beagle and now have switched to Yorkies.”
In another direction, 18-month-old Yorkshire Terrier Bradley eagerly waits his turn to show off his long, silky dark hair complete with a red ribbon on top. Handler and owner Kat Roberts, 54, of Zanesville, describes Bradley as nervous.
“I’m really proud of him and how far he has come even as a puppy,” she said.
Bark, bark, bark.
Bradley smiles as he laps around the ring. It’s been a long journey for Bradley already. His journey began at 6-months-old when he ventured from Sofia, Bulgaria to his new home in Zanesville to compete in dog shows all over the country.
“I’ve shown American dogs before but they’re just not the same,” said Roberts. “I have six Yorkies and I’m crazy about the breed. I began breeding them and showing them because I just wanted to better the breed.”
Roberts goes as far as genetically testing her Yorkshire Terriers before taking them into the ring.
“It’s rewarding to show them off like this. There’s a lot of work but it really all pays off,” she said.
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.
The barking continued to fill the Washington County Fairgrounds Thursday for Magic Valley Kennel Club’s Dog Show. Roughly 200 dogs competed for the Best in Show title Thursday and the dog show continues into Sunday.
Dog handlers ventured from all over the country to show their dogs. A variety of breeds, from the classic Golden Retriever to Pembroke Welsh Corgis put on their best performance in the ring from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. The dog show at the fairgrounds is free to the public but there is a one-day parking fee of $5. Thursday through Sunday, dogs will be competing in different classes throughout each day.
Bluemont, Va. resident Natalia Kunze, 42, brought two of her Kerry Blue Terriers to compete this weekend.
As she finished up final trimming, she explained that grooming for these terriers has to happen at least every six weeks.
“These are dogs that can do everything you’d need on a farm,” she said. “They’re more working dogs than anything.”
The 3-year-old terrier named Lord of the Rings has competed since he was just a puppy. Kunze herself has been showing dogs for 22 years. She moved to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 2001.
“The competition is much more competitive here,” she said. “It was quite an adjustment but I’ve enjoyed it a lot. While this can be a pricey thing to do, it has its plus sides.”
In 2016, Kunze had a female Kerry Blue Terrier that was named No. 1 in the country. She had the No. 1 stud in the country in 2015.
Judging a dog show is no easy task. North Carolina resident Robert Stein has been judging dogs for about 50 years.
“There’s a breed standard for every breed of dog that they must match to get best in show,” he explained. “These are standards made up by the AKC and some standards date back to the 1930s and ’40s. I’ve judged dogs all over the world from Australia to Europe.”
Stein said to become a dog show judge involves a lot of testing and a lot of education.
“It’s somewhat intense but there’s roughly 3,000 judges in the United States but only about 25 to 30 of those judges cover all breeds,” he said. “Dog shows are so diverse, it can be a very wealthy man to a normal guy that all share a love for their breed of dog.”
At a glance
Economic benefits of AKC Dog Events
¯ Participants spend an average of $685 per event in communities hosting AKC dog events.
¯ Local spending by participants in an AKC event can inject more than $1.7 million into the community.
¯ Most participants travel more than 100 miles to get to the event and spend at least two to three nights in town.
¯ The AKC licenses and sanctions more than 22,000 events across the country per year.
¯ AKC dog events are hosted by more than 5,000 clubs.
¯ Nationwide, AKC dog events have the potential to generate more than $1.5 billion per year in local spending.
Source: American Kennel Club Government Regulations.