A good portion of the Webster County Fairgrounds has gone to the dogs this weekend - quite literally - at the annual Fort Dodge Kennel Club AKC All Breed Dog Show, Obedience Trial and Rally Trial.
Their people are welcome too.
Tricia Stanczyk, of Garland, Neb., was showing her Parson Russell terrier Einstein. While waiting to enter the ring, he has a special pad to stand on that keeps him cool.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Paula Exline, of Adel, gets a hug from her Samoyed, Stretch, while waiting to enter the ring for the confirmation competition Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Kennel Club Dog Show at the Webster County Fairgrounds.
"He's not really fond of it," she said.
It might have something to do with the fringes sewed into it.
"It just happens to be kind of blingy," she said.
The color is an homage to the Cornhuskers.
"He's from Nebraska," she said. "He needs a red cloth."
Show Chairman Pat Reed, of Fort Dodge, said that there are actually two shows going on at the fairgrounds. The first is a conformation competition. Judges compared each dog to its ideal breed standards. Each best of breed then moves onto group competition and the best of show is selected from those.
"It's about how closely does this dog represent sthis standard," he said.
The other area of the show is obedience/rally. Dogs are judged by their obedience, manners, behavior and ability to follow commands.
Most of Reed's work at the show is long past.
"We began lining up judges three years ago," he said.
For Derek Exline, of Solen, actually showing his Samoyed, Scout, in the ring began a few months ago. Attending dog shows with his mom, Paula Exline, of Adel, began years ago.
"She's been dragging me to dog shows since I was 2 weeks old," he said.
As he got older, he began appreciating going to the show.
"I didn't want to stay home with Dad," he said, "Dad can't cook."
Since Scout moved in with him, the pair have bonded closely - so closely, in fact, that others would have difficulty showing him in the ring.
"He kept trying to get out and come to me," he said.
The family has five dogs in their licensed kennel. They take where the dogs place in the shows in stride.
"He wins some," Paula Exline said. "He loses some."
While some might complain about the hair from the fluffy breed, Exline turned it into an asset.
"I made an afghan out of their hair," she said. "It's on the sofa."
Getting from their grooming area in what is normally the sheep barn to the show ring sometimes requires a bit of invention. Joan Eastman, of Eske, Minn., along with her daughters, Jesy and Kaitlyn Wahlsten, built a cart with six kennels stacked three high.
"This is our pack," Joan Eastman said
Their breed of choice : Cairn terriers.
"They're like Toto from "The Wizard of Oz," Kaitlyn Wahlsten said.
The family drove 340 miles to attend the show. They said they go to about 26 a year.
They also have a tasty way of motivating the dogs to demonstrate good manners in the ring.
"Hot dogs and cheese is what goes over the best," Jesy Wahlsten said.
Another type of exhibitor at shows are professional handlers. They specialize in housing, training and showing dogs for their owners.
One of those, Vicki Barker, of Minneapolis, not only has Katie living with her, she jokes a bit about her last name.
"It's Barker like a dog," she said while laughing. "Can you believe it?"
She specializes in terriers and has a strong bond with her charge.
"I'm pretty attached to her," she said, before giving Katie a hug and little scratch behind the ear.
The Fort Dodge Kennel Club will have more conformation and obedience competitions today at the fairgrounds.