There is good reason why we call a dog “man’s best friend.” Canines are loyal animals, and provide unconditional love and companionship. For most, a dog is a family pet. You hope to teach them to sit, stay, shake, and walk well on a leash. Maybe, if you are really adventurous, you can train your dog to roll over or balance a treat on their nose. But for others, dogs are not only a part of the family, but they are also intelligent, driven and trained competitors.
Dog show competitions have been in existence since the early 1800s, with the Westminster Dog Show being the most notable and longest running. This you know. What you may not know is that Owensboro will host its very own dog show, the River Valley Cluster, in late August. This five-day event will bring over 1,200 exhibitors per day to Owensboro. There are 178 American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized breeds, and the Cluster will see many of these breeds represented at the show. Anyone with an AKC registered dog can enter the show, and it is expected that people will travel from all over the country to show their dog at the River Valley Cluster, which is sponsored by Purina.
The River Valley Cluster is made up of three different clubs: Southern Indiana Kennel Club, Evansville Kennel Club and the Owensboro River City Kennel Club (ORCKC). By offering a cluster, meaning more than one club, Tina Winston, Vice President of ORCKC says it will be more attractive for competitive showers.
“It hurt our numbers when the Executive Inn closed,” Winston said. “We tried other facilities, but nothing was big enough and forced us to have parts of the competition outside in the grass. The disadvantages to showing outside drive down the numbers in some breeds. The Owensboro Convention Center has enabled us to make our dreams a reality. It’s going to be a great venue for the Cluster.”
ORCKC will have two days of Conformation, where dogs are taken around the floor and chosen by judges as the best in their breed group. Non-champion canines will compete for points towards their championship, and breed champions will compete for Best of Breed, advancing to their respective Group Competition. A winner from each of the seven Group Competitions will advance to the Best in Show Competition at the end of the day, where the Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show winners are chosen. “Think Westminster,” says Winston. The club will also have two days of Obedience and Rally, where dogs are judged on their compliance to a very structured routine of commands.
Cindy Curtis, a board member of ORCKC, shows dogs in the obedience and rally category. In fact, her dog, Dexter Smidgen, a Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is ranked sixth nationally in Rally. That honor earned Dexter and owner, Curtis, a feature in Dog Fancy Magazine.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Curtis. “I’ve only been showing for five years, and I have been very successful with my dog. I am over 50 years old, so I am in the second half of my life. Showing dogs has just been so much fun. I have to be on my toes, too.”
Curtis, who has traveled the country with Dexter, 7 years old, thinks the two are a team more than an owner and pet. “We have to work in sync,” Curtis said. “You look down at those big, brown eyes and you see the wheels turning. We just have this bond.”
Vicki Spencer, Secretary and 30-year member of ORCKC, competes in the Conformation category, showing Dachshunds for more than 24 years. Not only does Spencer show her own dog, Adam, but she was also hired to show a Dachshund from England last year. The dog, Roo, won the Crufts Dog Show in England, and was then flown to the United States where Spencer picked him up at the airport. Roo competed in a show three hours later and won. Roo is the only dog to be crowned an English Champion and an American Grand Dual Champion.
ORCKC stresses that the Cluster is a family-friendly event. People of all ages are encouraged to attend any or all of the five days of events. Parking is free and there is a $5 adult admission. Winston says this is a good opportunity for dog owners to get a glimpse into the world of dog shows. It is also good for potential dog owners to check out a particular breed in which they may be interested.
There are a number of events where the public can get involved. ORCKC will participate in a Meet the Breed show at Friday After 5 on August 15. The Cluster will feature a Junior Showmanship class where children ages 9 to 18 are welcome to enter their dog. Scholarship opportunities are available. Also featured will be a “B” Match, open to the public, where anyone with an AKC breed dog is welcome to enter.
The Club recommends that community members visit their website, www.orckc.com, for more details and class schedules. It is important for the community to realize that while ORCKC is an AKC affiliated club, they are open to all different types of dogs.
“We want the community to know we’re here,” Curtis said. “We encourage people to see what we’re all about.”
[tw-divider]5 FUN FACTS ABOUT DOGS[/tw-divider]
- Dogs are capable of understanding up to 250 words and gestures, can count up to five, and can perform simple mathematical calculations.
- The wetness of a dog’s nose is essential for determining what direction a smell is coming from.
- Dogs drink water by forming the back of their tongue into a mini cup.
- Unlike humans, who sweat everywhere, dogs only sweat through the pads of their feet.
- 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 million homes.