Picking the winners at dog show no easy task

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
Pippin the West Highland Terrier was playing on the bleachers just minutes before the competition got under way Thursday night at the annual Rowan County 4-H Junior Dog Show.
The Westie ó named after one of the Hobbits in “Lord of the Rings” ó didn’t seem the least bit anxious. As it turned out, Pippin was an old pro at competition, having won three ribbons in last year’s show.
The 3-year-old dog and his owner, 12-year-old Matt Fleming of Rockwell, won a first-place trophy and ribbon in the Terrier Group, a second-place ribbon in the Tricks Class and a third-place ribbon in the Talent Class.
While Pippin checked out the spectators at this year’s show, Lynn Meeks of the Salisbury Kennel Club stood inside the arena of the exhibition hall at the Rowan County Fairgrounds, explaining the rules.
Meeks has judged the past two shows and said she’s been looking forward to coming back this year. Even though it’s a fun show and not an official American Kennel Club competition, she said her job is a lot tougher than it looks.
“It’s hard to say one dog is better than the other dogs,” Meeks said. “You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. You want to give everybody blue ribbons.”
Competitors and their dogs waited anxiously on the sidelines for their turn in the arena. Thursday night was the first competition for Earl, a 9-month-old English bulldog being entered by 12-year-old Kaylee Brumley of Mount Ulla.
“We have practiced nonstop,” she said.
It seems that Earl, a friendly bulldog who slobbered on the hand of a fellow competitor who reached down to pet him, has spina bifada. Kaylee pointed to a slight indention in his back.
“He walks a bit funnier than other bulldogs,” she said.
Also waiting to compete was 12-year-old Emma Labovitz of Salisbury with an American foxhound named Bessie. The dog came from the Humane Society, so Emma said no one’s sure of her age. Her veterinarian estimated Bessie is around 7.
Bessie was among six dogs (including two miniature dachshunds, a standard dachshund and two whippets) in the first competition of the evening, earning Emma a second-place ribbon in the Hound Group.
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Pearl Walls and her black-and-brown, long-haired miniature dachshund named Nellie Jo claimed the first-place trophy and ribbon. Placing third in the competition was Hannah Pearl’s 9-year-old sister, Phoebe Rose, and a brown miniature dachshund named Buffy.
Other competitors in the Hound Group were Gabe Oliphant and a whippet named Snapper; Zane Oliphant and a whippet named Slim; and Erik Thomas and a dachshund named Sugar.
The big winner of the show was Hannah Pearl Walls and Nellie Jo, who went on to claim third-place ribbons in the Toy Group and Trick Class along with the prestigious Best of Show Award.
Other winners in the Toy Group were Erik Thomas and his dachshund, Sugar, claiming the first-place trophy and ribbon followed by Tripp Oliphant and a miniature Italian greyhound named Scarlett in second.
A total of five competitors besides Hannah Pearl Walls entered their dogs in the Trick Class, with first-place honors going to Jordan Voorhis and her Lab/collie mix, Shepps, and second to Matt Fleming and Pippin the Westie.
In the Sporting Group, Wade Laing and his black cocker spaniel, Riley, claimed the first-place trophy and ribbon followed by Chandler Carter and his chocolate Lab, Riley, in second and Robert Egloff and his golden retriever, Jack, in third.
In the Terrier Group, Allison Williams and a smooth fox terrier named Eddie claimed the first-place trophy and ribbon followed by Matt Fleming and Pippin the Westie in second.
As the sole competitors in their groups, Kaylee Brumley and her English bulldog, Earl, placed first in the Non-Sporting Group; Abby Kluttz and her boxer, Cloey, placed first in the Working Group; and Jordan Voorhis and her collie/Lab mix, Shepps, placed first in the Herding Group.
In the Cloverbud Group for ages 5 to 8, the first-place trophy and ribbon went to Chandler Carter and his chocolate Lab, Libby. Other winners were Allison Williams and Eddie the smooth fox terrier in second; Audrey Oliphant and Scarlett the miniature Italian greyhound in third; and Gabe Oliphant and Snapper the whippet in fourth.
Three dogs competed in the Talent Class, with Jordan Voorhis taking the first-place trophy and ribbon for her Lab/collie mix, Shepps. Phoebe Rose Walls placed second with Buffy the miniature dachshund; and Erik Thomas placed third with Sugar the dachshund.
Winners of the tricks and talent classes were determined by the audience’s applause. Eleven-year-old Erik Thomas’ mother, Janice, screamed loudly, she said, because he didn’t have big families like some of the other competitors.
For the Talent Class, Sugar chased the bobber on Erik’s fishing pole as he turned it in a circle. Erik loves Sugar, his mother said, and he loves to fish.
Every time they go, Janice Thomas said Sugar tries to run after the fishing lure, wading out into the water as far as she can. The Thomases and Sugar live in Kannapolis.
Sara Drake and Darrell Blackwelder of the Rowan County Agricultural Extension Service served as co-directors of the dog show, held on the Thursday night of the annual Rowan County Fair.
Stacy Williams of the Salisbury Kennel Club served as ring assistant for the show, and Emily Grace Walls helped with the trophies and ribbons.