Passion, professionalism on display at dog show

Dogs of many different breeds and personalities had the chance to wow the judges at the Wheat City Kennel Club Dog Show, held at the Keystone Centre from Thursday to Sunday.

The show saw dogs and their handlers enter the conformation category, in which dogs are judged solely on the external, visible details of their structure and appearance, as defined by each dog breed’s written standard. There was also an obedience and rally show, in which participants follow commands and move with their handlers or owners through courses made up of 10 to 20 signs.

For Timothy Thomas, a judge who flew in from Brisbane, Australia, to take part in the event, what stood out the most was the pride and professionalism of the dog owners and handlers at the show.

“It’s a bit different in Australia. In America, Canada and a lot of South and Central America, it’s a profession for some. In Australia, it’s more of a family hobby … it’s a lot more professional here, which is really interesting.”

But it’s not just the people who have proven impressive, Thomas said.

He added that the dogs themselves have been “phenomenal.”

“I’ve probably judged … one of the nicest dogs I think I’ve ever judged,” Thomas said.

Monica Hoersh brought her border collie Isla to participate in the obedience and rally portion of the show. More than just a fun activity and outlet for Isla’s energy, Hoersh said competing with her helps them form a close, nurturing bond.

“Having her connected with me and being out there with me is just magical,” Hoersh said.

Syren is a five-year-old bearded collie who had a “scare” when she was a puppy that had made her a bit fearful, said her owner, Hendrika Evans of Regina.

Having Syren compete in the show is an effective way for her to face her fears and become stronger in a safe, controlled environment.

“Getting her around people again and getting used to the fact that this is happening [is important],” Evans said.

Competing in the show is also a wonderful opportunity for Evans to meet up with friends in the circuit that she hasn’t seen in a long time, since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put an end to dog shows.

“I like coming and doing this. You get to see people you haven’t seen in a while, especially since COVID-19. It was a long two years of not doing anything,” Evans said.

This was the second show the kennel club has hosted since COVID-19, but the first one with no restrictions.

Winnipeg’s Lorraine Hamel fell in love with a dog breed before she ever got interested in taking part in dog shows.

She purchased her first Samoyed dog, a medium-sized herding breed with a thick, white, double-layer coat, in 1987, and quickly fell in love with the intelligent creatures.

“They’re so smart, they’re almost human. They’re mischievous, they’re stubborn, they’re independent thinkers, and I like that about them … there’s a certain magic that comes from owning a Sammy.”

When she’s not making sure her poodle Hansel’s fur is in picture-perfect condition, or trotting him around the ring, Jill Klassen is eager to expound upon the benefits of taking part in, and watching, dog shows.Klassen, who drove in from Elm Creek, about 180 kilometres southeast of Brandon, to take part in the show, said there’s something for everyone to enjoy at a dog show, and it might even be the start of a lifelong passion for some.

“Come to a dog show, talk to as many people as you can. You’ll find such great people who are super passionate about dogs.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun