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Sacramento Kennel Club Holds Annual Dog Show

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Cal Expo’s immense Pavilion building was packed Saturday with about 1,500 competing dogs for the Sacramento Kennel Club’s (SKC) annual dog show April 17 and 18. Grooming stations, dog crates, vendors and judging rings spanned the building. The high ceilings resonated the constant cacophonic backdrop of announcements, barks, cheers and talking.

"They can see every breed recognized by the American Kennel Club," SKC Vice President Karen Williams said. "It runs all day, and if people are interested in a specific dog, they could go online to find the time (of the breed’s competition), the ring, everything."

According to Williams, the SKC has produced the show since the 1920s. She added that although there are numerous specialty breed shows in the Sacramento area, the SKC holds the primary dog show.

This year was the fourth SKC competition for breeder Cheryl Luce.

"We breed and show the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and one token Giant Schnauzer," Luce said. "I like that (this dog show) is indoors and that it’s in one building. Everything is very accessible. When you have an animal competing, you’re usually kind of limited to the breed group, but it’s very nice with lots of good vendors."

Judges from across the nation participated in the weekend-long event. There are three types of dog shows, according to the American Kennel Club: all-breed, specialty and group. The SKC’s was an all-breed show.

During the show, dogs begin by competing for Best-in-Breed. Winners then advance to compete within their groups (working, sporting, terrier, hounds, toy, herding and non-sporting). Those winners advance to compete for Best-in-Show.

"The same thing happens over again tomorrow," Williams said Saturday. "But you’ll have different winners because there are different judges. Even though they are judging to a standard, every judge interprets it a little different so you have different winners."

There may be different dogs exhibited on different days, she said, because owners may prefer a certain judge.

Numerous factors are considered in a dog’s winning placement. A specific judge may be preferred by some owners, but the breed’s prevalence may also play a part in its success. The number of dogs exhibited in each breed group varied from one – as in the case of the Kuvasz and English Foxhound – to the 44 Boxers all competing in the same group.

"The Kuvasz is really rare, but there are a lot more of them in the Midwest and in the South," owner Steve Oppenheimer, of El Sobrante, said. "So they do better in group because the judges there are more used to seeing them. (My Kuvasz named) Attila is one of very few being shown in California right now. That makes it harder to compete at the group level."

The budding April heat caused a few dogs to lay flat on their stomachs against the cool, concrete floor. The indoor setting and facilities were not only appreciated by the dogs, but people as well.

"At some of the indoor shows, the rings are smaller and it’s not good for the bigger dogs," Oppenheimer said. "Dogs like (Attila) have to move, they have a big stride. This ring will be great, this one will be big enough."

Much of the audience came prepared with seating and cameras. Many dogs, some competing and some not, were seen laying under folding chairs and next to owners.

"I love all the dogs," said Irene Rivas of Sacramento. "I’ll think, ‘Oh this is my favorite,’ then I come here and I change my mind, ‘Oh, I like this one.’ My favorite part is Best-in-Show at the end."

Williams, who breeds Welsh Terriers, stated that dog shows are not only a place for people to see numerous breeds, but also for potential owners to learn more from breeders and owners.

"The best place to go if you’re looking for a dog and a reputable breeder would be to come to a dog show because those people normally care about their animals," Williams said. "In other words, they’re not breeding for money, they’re not breeding for puppies – they want to give you, as an owner, a quality dog that’s in good health."


1) Animal crates 

2) Bull Terriers competing for Best-in-Breed

3) Almost done with grooming

4) Two Alaskan Malamutes waiting to leave

5) Attila the Kuvasz

6) Two of Luce’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi pups

7) Waiting to leave

8) Cyrus the Bull Mastiff prior to competing in working group

9) The working group

10) During working group competition

11) A Great Dane awaiting inspection

12) Sculptor Jim Gion sculpting a Bull Terrier’s bust

Agnus-Dei Farrant is an intern for The Sacramento Press.

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