This is an event that dog exhibitors have been waiting for three years, an international competition in Brockville, Ontario. which is attracted by competitors from all over the world.
More than 600 dogs descended on the Elizabethtown Fairgrounds, for the return of Thousand Islands Kennel and Obedience Club (TIKO) shows and trials.
“It’s really good to be back,” TIKO President Ginny Kerr said. “We had a three-year absence as everyone knows for the pandemic, and also returned to the original venue for this club.”
The show is being performed outdoors for the first time since the mid-1970s.
“A lot of people who were founding members are extremely happy, and a lot of people started their careers in show business here and find it really, really cool to be back here 40 years later,” Kerr added.
Breeder Marnie Layng presents her Schipperkes, which have been part of TIKO since 1969.
“For many of us, it’s our world,” she said. “It’s where we feel at home, where our passion is, and it’s one of the oldest sporting events in the world.”
Over 100 dog breeds are represented and are entered in different exhibits throughout the weekend, such as a sporting group and a herding group.
“It’s a process of elimination, you come in and register your dogs in any class under Canadian Kennel Club rules, and the judges review the dogs,” Layng said.
The men are judged first, then the women, with the judges choosing the best in each class.
“Then they go against all the champions that are already established and they get a best of breed,” Layng explained. “Once we get a best of breed and a best opposite, best of winners, best of puppies, they go on if there’s a competition for them.”
“When you get best in breed, then they’ll go against the other 13 or 17 dogs that won their best in breed, and then they’ll pick the top four and number one will go to best in show,” he said. she noted.
Competitors came from as far away as Florida to show off their dogs, with others coming from the northern United States, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.
There are also judges who have traveled from Sweden.
On another part of the fairgrounds, dogs also perform in the rally and obedience ring.
“It’s harder than it looks,” Kerr noted. “You read, you walk the dog, you do all the things in time.”
Kitchener judge Mary Monteith watches closely, ensuring a standard of perfection is achieved under the rules that govern the sport.
“Our job is to distinguish dogs that are absolutely perfect, between those that make a little mistake here and there,” she said. “Or maybe their handler makes a mistake, and so we judge against a standard of perfection in our head, comparing each dog.”
“There is an awful lot of training to prepare a dog to compete in any performance sport,” Monteith noted. “I want to congratulate all the handlers and the dogs who have worked so hard to get here. Every judge appreciates more than anything else all the work that goes into getting their dogs ready for competition and it’s very challenging and challenging and I applaud all of them.”
With temperatures reaching 30 degrees on Saturday afternoon, the dogs were kept cool in several ways.
“We have a pool to cool their feet, everyone sprays their dogs, and as you’ll see some dogs have jackets on top of these cooling jackets to wick away heat and provide some cooling,” Kerr said. “Lots of water, lots of shade, lots of rest.”
“It’s really nice to see a good purebred canine industry,” Kerr noted. “Dogs have become very important during the pandemic and we believe in a dog being well behaved and bred by a breeder who does all the checks that need to be done before the dogs are bred, that’s what these competitions check, c is how dogs sound in body and in spirit.”
Layng says to compete at this level, there’s a little piece of crazy in every dog owner, noting that she’s heard the comparison before.
“Of course I’m (crazy). That’s part of the criteria,” she joked. “And let’s face it, if you have a parent who happens to be a master chess player or a butterfly collector, what do we say about them?”
“Not everyone understands other people’s passions, you know, but for most of us, it’s our passion,” Layng said. “So if we can have the opportunity to come together and compete and some of us win and some of us learn, because that’s what you have to do when you lose, you learn , so this is an opportunity for all of us to take advantage of.”
The show continues until Sunday with free admission. Spectators are welcome to come and watch, but are asked to respect the dogs and the shows taking place.
“If you come to the show, ask if you can touch a dog, take a peek, and enjoy. Ask people who know,” Layng said.
“Come and enjoy, join our extended family because this is what the world of dog shows is all about.”