The top of their respective breeds, about 175 show dogs will strut their stuff at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre from March 7 to 9.
Preparing his Finnish lapphund for the annual Prince Kennel and Obedience Club‚Äôs All-Breed Conformation Show, Tom Tilford said that he makes sure Rowdy is well trimmed and on his best behaviour.
‚ÄúHe likes going to the shows -- he likes showing off,‚ÄĚ Tilford said during the club‚Äôs last practice before the event, at the Archie Anderson Pavilion on Wednesday. ‚ÄúIf you aren‚Äôt touching him he‚Äôs not happy.‚ÄĚ
Rowdy, with his frizzed tail and friendly demeanour, is a unique sight, with the Finnish lapphund one of only two that Tilford believes live in Prince Albert.
Tilford owns both, who together make up 1.3 per cent of the breed‚Äôs Canadian population.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre a fairly new breed in Canada, and they originally were bred and developed to herd reindeer in Finland,‚ÄĚ Tilford explained. ‚ÄúBecause there‚Äôs not much herding done in Finland anymore they‚Äôve become a popular house pet.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre active and yet they‚Äôre sedentary when you want them to be, and they‚Äôre usually really obedient.‚ÄĚ
Joining Tilford and Rowdy on Wednesday were a handful of the local club‚Äôs membership of about 30 canines who were training for the annual conformation show, where dogs are judged against others in their breed.
‚ÄúThe whole idea behind showing in conformation is to improve the individual breeds -- to maintain a high standard and to even improve on that,‚ÄĚ one of the event‚Äôs organizers Karen Fairbairn explained.
‚ÄúIn the breed ring, the original intent was only the animals to be used for breeding were to be show -- it‚Äôs not always about that, now ‚Ä¶ but they must all meet criteria.
Judges compare dogs to their breed standard, taking note of size, temperament and structure.
Dogs start by walking around a ring, during which judges take note of their walk.
‚ÄúUsually you‚Äôll see in the dog shows, it‚Äôs a trot,‚ÄĚ Fairbairn explained. ‚ÄúThe right trot will show exactly if they‚Äôre doing what they‚Äôre supposed to be doing.‚ÄĚ
Dogs also must stand, long time club member Connie Richard said, who plans on showing off Jenner, her six-year-old English springer spaniel.
‚ÄúHe loves to dog show,‚ÄĚ she said as Jenner obediently sat down, looking up at her for a command.
‚ÄúJenner‚Äôs versatile, so he does everything. He does show, he does obedience, he does rally -- he‚Äôll do whatever I asked. And he‚Äôs spoiled!‚ÄĚ
Each dog breed has a purpose. Jenner‚Äôs is hunting, while other breeds‚Äô purpose might be herding or pulling -- and their bodies are shaped accordingly.
We just invite people to come out and talk to the people who own dogs and are showing them. Tom Tilford
Sled dog breeds are better formed to pull weight than hunting dogs, Fairbairn explained.
When it comes to small toy dogs, their jobs are a bit more ambiguous.
‚ÄúThe toys are basically bred to be lap dogs -- loyal companions sitting beside you on the couch,‚ÄĚ she said.
The public is invited to attend the Prince Kennel and Obedience Club‚Äôs All-Breed Conformation Show from March 7 to 9, during which judging will take place from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Fairbairn said.
The Prince Albert SPCA will accept admission by donation at the front door, with proceeds going to their efforts.
Although the public is invited to attend, Fairbairn cautions parents to keep an eye on their children, and to ask permission before petting a dog.
‚ÄúSome of the breeds are really poofed up a lot, so they‚Äôve got stuff in their hair, so if they‚Äôre going to go in the ring they don‚Äôt really want people to do a whole lot of petting.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs lots of folks coming to down with their dogs, and lots to see,‚ÄĚ Tilford said. ‚ÄúWe just invite people to come out and talk to the people who own dogs and are showing them.‚ÄĚ