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FD Kennel Club shows, trials return

Competitions showcase canine beauty, brains

June 10, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

Dogs of all varieties will show off their smarts and stage presence Saturday and Sunday at the Fort Dodge Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show.

The judging begins at 9 a.m. at Webster County Fairgrounds in the main auditorium, according to Show Chair Pat Reed.

Each day one side of the building will be the site of the obedience trials, and the other side will hold the conformation show. There will be three rings on the conformation side, and two for obedience.

Article Photos

-Messenger file photo
These shelties participated in the Fort Dodge Kennel Club all-breed dog shows and obedience trials in 2011 at the Webster County Fairgrounds.This year’s events are Saturday and June 17.

Reed said the conformation dogs will be judged in seven group categories: sporting, herding, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and hound. At around 2 p.m., the group judging will begin when the top dogs in each breed compete against each other.

Eventually, one dog will be selected as Best in Show.

Each day is actually a separate show.

"The judges will judge different breeds each day," said Reed.

There are 468 dogs entered for Saturday and 461 on Sunday, an increase from last year, according to Reed. Most of the dogs will compete on both days.

Dogs have to work hard to work to make it in the obedience ring, said Obedience Chair Pat Saunders. These dogs are divided into novice, open and utility classes, she said.

"There's a set pattern where the dog has to heel with the owner," she said. "With novices, for the first part the dog is on a lead. Then you take the dog off-lead, and do the same heel pattern to see if it will walk with you.

"Then they have to do a one-minute sit, and a three-minute lay down. In novice, the owner stands at the other end of the ring, and the dog has to sit or lay until they come back."

In the open class, the owner doesn't get to use a lead for the heel pattern. The dog has to sit three minutes and lay down for five, with the owner outside of the building completely out of the dog's view. Open also adds in two jumps; the dog must go over the correct jump when given the command.

In the highest class, utility, the owner is not allowed to speak to the dog; he can only use hand signals. Another trial is added, where the dog must pick the one object touched by the owner out of a pile of eight objects.

"It takes a lot of time to train the dogs to that level," said Saunders.

"The highest score is 200. Everybody starts with 200 and the judge starts deducting from there. They need at least 170 to qualify. Some of these dogs get 198. Very good dogs. But they can blow it, just as easy as anybody else. They can get the wrong article, or look away and not see signal to take a jump."

In the conformation shows, it's all based on appearance and presentation. The dogs will be heavily groomed, and the judges will score the dogs based on an official standard for each breed.

"The judge tries to identify with the dogs in front of him, which dog best represents the way the standard reads," Reed said. "They're judged on, for example, coat quality, what we call the 'top line' of the dog - in other words, it's not a swayback - its gait and its movement, the way the eye sits, head size. There are 25 or 30 things a judge is looking at."

Saunders said anyone can attend and watch as long as they leave their own dogs at home. Admission is $1.

"People can come out and see what you can do with dogs, if you want to spend a lot of time and be serious with training."

It's also a great chance to ask the breeders about what dogs are right for different situations, and see some rare breeds.

"There are so many different breeds in the American Kennel Club that you probably won't see walking down the street," she said. "Every year they're adding new breeds. ... Azawakh is a breed of dog, but I have no idea what it is."



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