On that first morning, the Beltrami County Fairgrounds was already in the hustle and bustle of a weekend full of competitions: the handlers blow-drying and brushing the dog’s fur at the last minute; Dogs took some intermittent naps and cuddles between shows; and outdoor workouts and potty breaks were frequent.
On Friday, around 125 dogs took part in the event for the Best in Show, Rally Obedience and Total Dog awards, said organizer Kathy Lamping.
Quinn, an English cocker spaniel of blue moldy coloration, is groomed prior to the United Kennel Club Dog Show held by the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds on Friday, September 10, 2021. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
For some competitors like Thelma, Amanda Robinson’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, it was their first time performing. The four-month-old Pinewood, Minnesota puppy was the only one of Robinson’s spaniel piles present, leaving Thelma without her companion, Louise. But the newcomer was happy about the additional attention of the event visitors.
“Thelma makes herself the center of attention at home,” said Robinson. “She’s an energetic little thing.”
Other competitors such as Tammy Lodien’s Chinese Crested, Asada, were seasoned champions in the ring. Lodien said one-year-old Asada had already attended AKC shows but the UKC event was new to her.
â€œI love Carne Asada Tacos,â€ said Lodien of the inspiration behind Asada’s name. “She doesn’t have an on / off switch and she has a lot of mane.”
After recently witnessing a personal tragedy, said Lodien, who is originally from Bemidji but lives in Princeton, Minnesota.
“I’m up here trying to forget the sadness and have fun,” said Lodien.
Thelma, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, awaits her owner at the United Kennel Club Dog Show, hosted by the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association, at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds on Friday, September 10, 2021. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
The free UKC dog show, which runs through Sunday 12 September, gives viewers the chance to speak to specific breed experts like show judge Gary Richards on a variety of topics ranging from training, grooming and the right breed for their lifestyle .
Richards of Springfield, Illinois has been involved in dog shows for 50 years. He started showing Great Danes and Shar-Peis and then started judging in shows about eight years ago.
“When you reach a certain age, you realize that running around the ring is a little more than you want to, so you get into dog judging,” said Richards. “I decided it was time to start judging and use my knowledge of the races.”
Jenga, a golden retriever, sits with her handler Oliver Hambley, 6, at the United Kennel Club Dog Show hosted by the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds on Friday, September 10, 2021. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Hosting about 15 to 20 shows annually, Richards says correct assessment results from years of practice and repetition from reading and memorizing breed standards. He said he was looking forward to discovering the dogs that best meet their breed standards this weekend.
â€œEvery breed has a standard and you judge by the standard. I look at the dogs’ toplines, eye color, coat color and all the different things the standard requires, â€said Richards. “You don’t judge other dogs, you judge against the standard.”
The first event of the day consisted of a junior section where children and teenagers showed off their dog friends. Oliver Hambley, 6, was the first to take the stage that morning with his Golden Retriever Jenga.
Judge Gary Richards of Springfield, Ill., Instructs Oliver Hambley, 6, and his golden retriever Jenga during the junior division of the United Kennel Club Dog Show hosted by the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association on Friday, September 10, 2021 on the Beltrami County Fairgrounds. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
“The junior class is the judges’ favorite,” said Ethan Larson, a member of the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association and handler at the dog show. â€œThe juniors are the future of these dog shows, so the trainers are happy to advise and coach them. If a judge sees something wrong, he tells him uncritically. “
The show marks the fifth time Larson has participated as a handler for his 10 year old Chihuahua Hero. He said they were both excited to be back in the ring and interacting with other passionate athletes, especially after dog shows were postponed last year.
“Hero is the most sociable (of my Chihuahuas) and likes crowds, so he enjoys showing it off the most,” said Larson. “Its former owners wanted to show it to him, so I’ll cross it off their bucket list for them.”
The event continues on Saturday and Sunday with two exterior shows at 9 a.m. and a rally obedience competition at 10 a.m. each morning.