Nearly 870 dogs representing more than 130 breeds turned out to strut their stuff at the Paso Robles Event Center on Saturday and Sunday for the San Luis Obispo Kennel Club’s Annual Dog Show.
According the club’s Web site, www.slokc.org, the SLOKC, sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, was formed in 1961 to support and encourage the proper care and breeding of purebred dogs, to help improve the genetic health breeds while maintaining high breed standards and to educate the public on a variety of canine issues.
SLOKC president and breeder Chris Hufford said the club’s goal is more simple.
“Our club is a group of people in the area here to support the pure breed dogs,” Hufford said.
SLOKC also provides a venue for purebred breeders to show their dogs, compete with other breeds and enjoy the company of other dog enthusiasts. According to Hufford, competitors traveled from all over the western United States to enter their pooches into the SLOKC’s Annual Dog Show.
The dog show was broken into three primary judging categories: all-breed judging conformation, obedience trial, and rally, which tests the dog and handler’s teamwork as they navigate through 10 to 20 different prearranged stations.
By far, the most popular event of the two-day event was the all-breed judging conformation. More than 700 dogs participated in the event. The competition was broken down by the animal’s breed, and within the breed there were seven classes that further categorized the animal competitor, including junior puppy, senior puppy, 12 to 18 months, novice, bred by exhibitor, American bred and open class.
The animals were judged by how well they conformed to the AKC’s Standard of Perfection for the breed. Class winners went on to compete against each other for the coveted title of Best in Breed.
Additionally, breeds were broken down into seven larger groups, which included sporting, hounds, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding breeds. Those animals that took ribbons for Best in Breed continued on to compete against each other for the title of Best in Group on Sunday. Out of the seven Best In Group winners, only one earned the laurels of Best in Show, which is the most prestigious award given at a dog show.
“It is a lot of dogs to beat,” Hufford said.
Hufford, a champion breeder herself, said that raising a champion dog is a long and arduous process, but that in the end it is all worth it.
“You do it for the joy,” she said. “There is a lot of work involved, even in showing a dog. You have to love what you do and love the breed.”
Madeline Patterson and Jeannine Sullivan’s two-year-old standard poodle, Chase, took home the award for the best standard poodle bred by the exhibitor. Patterson, who has been breeding dogs for the past 45 years, agreed with Hufford that breeding and showing dogs requires a lot of time and dedication.
“You just have to not be afraid of hard work, lots of hours, lots of driving [to dog shows], and mostly in this breed, grooming, grooming, grooming,” she said.
Patterson said in order to get her standard poodle ready for a show she goes through a long process of bathing, grooming, shaving, scissoring and styling the dog.
“From start to finish, to walking in the ring, if you added up the hours that went into him — I would say it is a good eight hours,” she said.
Patterson said that all their hard work was well worth it as their impeccably groomed pooch was just a few judging points shy from gaining a Champion of Record title, denoting excellence in breed.
Still, according to Hufford, the two-day event wasn’t just about the competition. The SLOKC also focused on bringing awareness and much needed funds to local animal charities.
“A lot of the profits that we do make are turned around and donated,” she said. “We try to keep it in the community, but we do donate wherever there is a need.”
All the money taken in at the gate was donated to SLO County Animal Service’s Heeling Touch program, which pairs at risk teens with homeless pets. Youth in the program spend time training the dogs to make them more adoptable in the shelter.
The two-day competition officially closed on Sunday afternoon with the presentation of the major awards, including Best in Show.
For more information on the SLOKC and their other upcoming events, visit their Web site.
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