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Wednesday, January 7,2015

Canine Beauty Pageant

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  


This past December, I covered the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC). I’ve watched dogs shows on TV, and marveled at the pageantry of the handlers, judges and stars of the show: the dogs. This is not my typical world. I am in rescue. After the holidays, when the kids return to school, and we resume our hectic schedules, shelters, humane societies and rescues will be faced with numbers of surrendered pets (many pure bred pups), because they:

1 Made an impulse purchase from a puppy store (Google: puppy mills)

2 Didn’t research the breed

3 Didn’t realize how much time a dog required

4 Thought it was a good holiday present for the kids

5 Didn’t take the time to train or socialize the dog

6 Can no longer afford to care for the dog

7 Are faced with a change in their residence (divorce, moving)

8 One or more of the above But last month, I was at the other end of the spectrum... as I refer to it as “The Canine Beauty Pageant”. Held at the Orange County Convention Center, AENC is one of the world’s premiere dog events. Dogs from all 50 states and 70 countries vied for the coveted Best in Show title. These fourlegged “rock stars” are accompanied by their entourage, which may include the owner, groomer, handler, and trainer. Bred from lines of champions, these dogs are the “supermodels” of their respective breeds and groups.

There were allbreed and specialty competitions, seminars, entertainment (my friends of the Disc-Connected K 9 s ) , dockdiving, agility and obedience invitationals, junior events and vendors galore. I was behind the scenes, as groomers and handlers bathed, blow-dried, combed and coiffed. While receiving his final touch-ups, I met a spectacular Samoyed (pronounced sam – oy-ED). Griffin reminded me of a ginormous billowy white cloud. As I wished him best of luck in the ring, he flashed me his breed’s calling card: a Sammie smile.

The area I spent the most time in by far was “Meet the Breed”. I was in the herding groups, a lot. I was brought to tears, seeing dogs who reminded me of ones I have loved who wait at the bridge. Eros, a dashingly handsome golden retriever seemed to sense my feelings and provided comfort with lots of wet kisses. Some of the booths had elaborate displays tracing the breed’s heritage. Over 150 breeds were represented, with many rescue groups present (yay!). While I knew and could identify about 90% of the breeds, there were several that were new to me.

The highlight of the event was the Best in Show competition, on Sunday evening. With a fabulous seat in the media box, I enjoyed the pomp and circumstance. A few times I felt like I was in the movie, “Best in Show”, with a wild cast of characters. All seven groups (herding, hound, non-sporting, sporting, toy, terrier, and working) sent the winners of their rings to the “showdown”. Since it will be televised soon, I won’t reveal the results. I was rooting for the dog that won, from the moment he entered the ring. So, get your dog, tune in and enjoy the show!



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