BLOOMINGTON — The Heart of Illinois Cluster Dog Show returned to Bloomington this weekend with more than 100 dog breeds from around the world gathering at the Interstate Center.
Brenda Matherly, president of the Cornbelt Kennel Club, said there were more than 800 dogs on Saturday alone. She noted that the Saturday and Sunday of the show are usually busier than Friday and Monday.
The event is organized by two organizations, the Cornbelt Kennel Club and the Illinois Valley Kennel Club. Each organization has split days: Friday and Sunday for IVKC while Cornbelt has Saturday and Monday. Matherly said this guarantees both clubs a full day and a light day.
The dogs are separated according to their characteristics into seven different groups, such as the hunting dog group or the sporting group. They are then judged on categories such as health and quality of movement. Winners move up in rank and receive more points in the competition.
A dog can only compete in one group, Matherly said, but a handler can enter multiple dogs into competition as long as they manage their time properly.
“Most dogs will start their show career at 6 months,” she said.
However, Matherly said there was no monetary incentive for owners. Winners will receive vouchers for vendors at the show, but no cash. Instead, dogs are judged and rise in rank, and can become champions and grand champions, she explained. This increases the dog’s “breeding stock”, an assessment determining the quality of the puppies they will have. Matherly said the shows and showings “show that (the handlers) are raising quality animals.”
Matherly said the shows she’s attended “very rarely have incidents” between dogs, and the handlers take great care of their animals.
“These people are attached to their dogs,” she said.
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The show continues Sunday and Monday, starting at 8 a.m. each day at the Interstate Center, 1106 Interstate Drive, Bloomington. Admission is free for spectators.
For more information, visit www.cornbeltkennelclub.org.
Photos: Heart of Illinois Cluster Dog Show in Bloomington