Annual dog show brings out the best

Tyler Clarke
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Primped and proper, some of the country’s top dogs were on their best behaviour at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre over the weekend.


Although the majority of the dogs’ human counterparts at the Prince Albert Kennel and Obedience Club’s All-Breed Conformation Show were hobbyists, Terry Bernier considers dog showing his profession.

“I grew up showing dogs, so it just seemed like a natural progression,” he said while grooming his four-year-old standard poodle, Graydon. “I’m really passionate about dogs.”

Considered Canada’s No. 1 poodle, No. 1 non-sporting all breed and No. 3 all-breed, Graydon’s made quite a name for himself in the dog show circuit.

“He’ll be in a show almost every weekend of the year -- being campaigned across the country, is what it’s called,” Bernier explained.

“He wins under a lot of judges across Canada, and he starts accumulating points and gets ranked up and up.”

Poodles are a bit more challenging than some other breeds, he said, noting that while all breeds require some maintenance, poodles require a lot.

Graydon is trimmed and brushed out every day, he explained, noting that although he enjoys the challenge of showing poodles it was out of necessity that he began showing that particular breed.

Although he’s made a career of showing dogs, he’s allergic to them. Poodles don’t shed, making that breed a good choice.

Even so, Bernier said that he’s continued showing other breeds, regardless.

“I would never give up showing dogs just because of asthma.”

Although Bernier and Graydon came all the way from Abbotsford, B.C., to attend the weekend dog conformation show, the majority of those in attendance were from the prairies.

Tom Tilford is one of a handful of local club members to attend, showing off his happy-go-lucky Finnish lapphund, Rowdy.

There are about 150 Finnish lapphund in Canada, and Rowdy is ranked No. 1. By Saturday afternoon, he already boasted two ribbons from the weekend show, of which there were scheduled to be six shows, with 175 dogs invited to attend each.

Originally bred to herd reindeer in Finland, Rowdy seemed more content to suck up attention while Tilford prepared him for his third showing.

Beaming next to her first-ever ribbon, eight-month-old old English sheepdog Bertha Butt seemed content having her hair frizzed up by owners Bettie Fast and Dave Haddon on Saturday.

On her grooming platform, Butt -- born posterior first and named accordingly -- appeared to take everything in stride.

Saturday was her first-every showing, Fast said, visibly proud of her large bundle of fluff.

“You breed for temperament, and she has the brains, too, which is nice,” Haddon added. “Old English aren’t known for their brains, but we’ve done it for a long time.”

It wasn’t only beginner’s luck that saw Butt ranked first, but good breeding, Fast said, noting that Butt’s father, Nathan, was ranked the nation’s No. 1 old English sheepdog last year.

Although Butt is happy to be shown off to dog enthusiasts, Fast said that her true pleasure comes from running about their acreage near Saskatoon.

“They can be city dogs, but they still need the exercise,” she said. “Any dog who stays in the house too long will have behaviour problems.”

I grew up showing dogs, so it just seemed like a natural progression ... I’m really passionate about dogs. Terry Bernier

Originally bred for herding sheep and other animals to market, it goes against their nature to spend too much time without running about, Fast added.

Coming to a similar conclusion, Stony Plain, Alta., dog enthusiast Cindy Bazin said that her 17-month-old Belgian shepherd, Viking, was getting a bit anxious to get back to their property where he can run about.

“He takes it all in stride,” she concluded.

Imported from Norway, Viking has already picked up his fair share of ribbons, including the distinctions of best puppy and best in show.

Accompanied by friend Susan Jaddock, who was showing her own tervueren variety Belgian shepherd, Bazin said that showing dogs is a hobby of her’s, and a good excuse to get out of town with friends.

Placing a wet jacket on her dog’s back, Jaddock said that the jacket helps accentuate her the shepherd’s flat back.

“You want to accent their good and hide their bad as far as structure and standard goes,” she said.

“The judge will find them eventually, if they’re good, but it’s camouflage, I guess.”

Hosted by the Prince Albert Kennel and Obedience Club, the annual all-breed conformation show is only one event of many the club hosts every year.

For more information about the canine-loving crew’s efforts, visit their website, online at, or their Facebook page, called “Prince Albert Kennel & Obedience Club.”

Organizations: Prince Albert Kennel and Obedience Club

Geographic location: Canada, Abbotsford, Finland Saskatoon Stony Plain Norway

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