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SLO Kennel Club presents 2009 dog show

Modified: Friday, Nov 13th, 2009

Hundreds of dogs will compete for the coveted Best in Show and other awards at the San Luis Obispo Kennel Club’s 13th annual All-Breed Confirmation Show, Obedience Trial and Rally, which will take place at the Paso Robles Event Center Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15.

The event is free to the public and judging will begin each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A portion of the money generated from contestant entry fees will be donated to the San Luis Obispo Heeling Touch dog training program, which focuses on training dogs that are up for adoption in an attempt to up their chances of finding permanent families.

Vendors selling specialty dog-related wares like bowls, beds and more will be on site for pet-lovers who wish to show a little extra appreciation toward their furry friends this holiday season.

The confirmation portion of the even will focus on the structure, appearance and physical attributes of the dogs according to each breed’s standards while the obedience trial and rally will showcase each dog’s unique training abilities.

Dogs will sit, stay and heel as well as perform more exotic tricks like picking out a single object scented by their owner out of a cluster of similar items – a process known as scent discrimination.

According to San Luis Obispo Kennel Club Assistant Show Chairman and treasurer Karyn Convertini, the show will resemble the Westminster Dog show that many may have seen on T.V., except that the show isn’t exclusive to established canine champions.

“I teach a handling class and a lot of my students will be showing for the first time [at the show],” she said. “This is a hobby for anyone who wants to do more with their dogs.”

The dogs must, however, be of purebred stock, a staple of most dog show competitions. Next year will mark the show’s inclusion of mixed-breed dogs, who will be eligible to participate in the obedience and rally division of the show for the first time, Convertini said.

“This is a fun thing for people to see and also to see if this might be an interesting thing for them to do. Maybe people will want to get a purebred puppy or maybe a mixed-breed puppy that they can do obedience with next year,” she said.

As to which part of the competition a dog might be best suited to, the trainer said it all comes down to each animal’s unique personality strengths and natural aptitudes. Dog breeders and handlers, which will be in abundance at the event, are the best sources to ask, Convertini said.

“If [a person] is interested in looking for a dog, breeders are welcome people and a great source for learning more about a breed. If someone is interested in getting a Lab, a breeder will tell that person about the characteristics of the dog, the bad points of behavior and the lines as far as the dog’s ability to do different jobs,” she said.

Different jobs dogs can be trained to do include many everyday household tasks, including picking up specific items and taking verbal commands.

“[The obedience and rally division] is associated with things a dog may be actually trained to do,” Convertini said. “The obedience shows the connectedness between the dogs and their owners as well as [the dog’s] ability to do more difficult activities besides just walking quietly on a leash. Dogs can be directed to pick up a thing, jump over a thing, find a thing or come [to the owner] when done. It is really fun to watch.”

Attendees may also cherry-pick which events they’d like to see depending on their interests or favorite dog breed. Beagle lovers can gawk at the floppy-eared animals as they make their rounds and those partial to golden retrievers can pick the brains of breeders and handlers alike.

Owners of smart, job-oriented dogs like border collies may learn that their pets at home could mimic some of the talents of the dog show contestants — if given a little help from a good trainer.

San Luis Obispo Kennel Club corresponding secretary Julie Dodson said she wanted to stress the point that the dog show will not only be entertaining but also educational for San Luis Obispo dog owners and beyond.

“[The show] is a good way for family members to learn about dogs and to learn about personalities and the traits [certain breeds] have,” she said. “A lot of people go into a store, see a cute puppy and take it home without having researched the breed’s characteristics. One dog may need a job or may need to run.”

According to Dodson, when the wrong kind of dog is adopted into a family that doesn’t fit the dog’s specific needs, that’s when animals are taken to shelters, and some don’t make it out alive. As a volunteer for the Heeling Touch in San Luis Obispo, Dodson said she knows the routine all too well.

“Heeling touch takes dogs headed for euthanasia, and we teach them and work with kids from the juvenile center in San Luis Obispo. The kids socialize the animals and interact with the dogs in order to make them more adoptable,” she said.

The dogs then learn basic commands, are spayed or neutered and given the proper shots.

According to Convertini, once a dog has been rescued from a shelter and loved for a consistent period of time, they are usually ready and willing to be trained and can even be successfully handled in a dog show environment.

In tandem with that optimistic spirit, Convertini said she hopes those who attend the upcoming SLO Kennel Club dog show will consider getting involved in one way or another.

“[As a handler] you get to see how great dogs can be when they are trained, and a trained dog is just more fun to have,” she said. “If you love your dogs, [handling] is really fun – And who doesn’t really love their dogs?”

For the complete article see the 11-13-2009 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-13-2009 paper.

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