The 143rd Westminster Dog Show is on television today through Tuesday. So from Jan. 13, 2011 here is my St. Thomas Dog Blog post about that year’s Elgin County Kennel Club Show in London, Ontario.
The Elgin Co. Kennel Club dog show is fun. A chance to see so many different kinds of beautiful dogs, and a chance to learn something about each breed as you watch them go through their paces. Watch long enough and you’ll start to see what the judge is looking for and why particular dogs are chosen in their category.
Showing dogs is a complex affair with a long history. There’s a lot to learn in order to have any idea why one dog is chosen over another. But watching the judge at work gives you some clues after awhile. You’ll also see how serious it is, when you watch the concentration of the judge and the handlers (some dogs take it seriously, some don’t). Equally intense is the preparation in the grooming area – hours spent getting dogs ready for the ring then, for some breeds, almost as long brushing them back to their everyday hair.
The breeders and handlers don’t have a lot of time at the show to tell you about their dogs. But if they did, they’d be able to tell you each dog’s pedigree back for generations and the characteristics that mark the dog as one of that lineage and as a show dog.
Pedigrees and breed standards
You won’t see mongrels there and you won’t see “designer” dogs, even if it’s a cross-breed that’s working toward CKC acceptance as a breed. That official acceptance takes a long time, many generations and satisfaction of many breeding and conformation criteria. So the people who sold you a “purebred” Maltipoo won’t be there.
Actually, you won’t see any dogs there other than those in the show. It’s not a place to take Fifi to let her visit with her own kind. These dogs are working and must stay focused on the prize. You may see breeders who have kennels full of dogs. You may see breeders who have only one show dog, the one with them. You’ll see dogs taken in the ring by professional handlers while the owners stand nervously at the side watching. You’ll see dogs handled by their owner/breeder; that’s a separate class within the judging. You’ll see owners and breeders doing grooming and some exhibitors who have grooming assistants. You’ll see it all, and hear a lot of barking from excited people and dogs.
The room is ringed with stalls of grooming equipment, dog bed makers, collars and leashes, dog food. Retailers come from all over to set up shop for a couple days. So take a notebook and your wallet, but not your dog, and enjoy the show. Maybe you’ll see a dog that later in the year will be at Westminster and you can say “I saw her when…”