Dogs look to put their best paw forward

Competition scheduled at fairgrounds this weekend

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



If you go

What: 2013 Evergreen State Winter Sieger Dog Show, a competition with about 100 dogs trying to earn international breed titles.

Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Best in show exhibits at around 3 p.m. both days.

Cost: Free.

Information: International All Breed Canine Association

Maryke Nau already knows that Coda, her golden retriever, is a handsome boy.

Her friends know it, too, she said, and so does Coda — who can be a bit of a diva dog when it comes to the spotlight.

But this weekend, Nau, who lives in Ridgefield, hopes to get professionals to join the consensus, when Coda hits the stage at the 2013 Evergreen State Winter Sieger Dog Show.

"That's the only thing he wants to do right now, is play show dog," Nau said proudly. "He loves it."

The show, which has been coming to Ridgefield twice a year for the past dozen years or so, gives breeders and purebred dog owners a chance to get written feedback about their dogs from judges in a casual atmosphere.

Judges compare the dogs to ideal breed standards, rather than to one another as other shows do, and award the top competitors with international titles.

The International All Breed Canine Association, which is running the show, is sort of like a minor league compared with the American Kennel Club, but many dogs that have gone through IABCA shows have continued on to the AKC, said Scott Odle, show secretary for the Salem, Ore., group.

"Professional breeders like to get titles on their dogs for resale value and breeding," Odle said. "But we also have a lot of dog owners that just want to get titles for their beloved pet."

The show also allows about 25 percent rare breeds, which aren't accepted in most larger dog shows.

"We're smaller than AKC and less stressful," Odle said. "For people who show dogs, the difference in our shows is that they get a written critique of the dog. Other shows, the judges don't generally explain their decisions."

Sieger is a German word for winner, and the name remains in the show title because the IABCA was founded in that country. There are about 30 IABCA shows across the country each year, Odle said, adding that 100 dogs are expected at the Ridgefield show.

As a breeder, Christina Ulberg of Salem, Ore., said the professional feedback is helpful — especially as a guide for picking which dogs she'll mate or select to show in the future.

"It's a really neat environment," said Ulberg, who will be showing Xander, one of her Rottweilers. "It's nice to see what the judges see and why they pick what they pick."

The shows are also great for members of the public who are interested in learning more about various kinds of dogs, she said.

"You can see all sorts of breeds," Ulberg said. "The shows can also help break misconceptions of larger breeds so you can learn that they're really great dogs. And the public can go up to breeders at the show and talk to them."

One of the more amusing sights for newcomers is the dog-grooming area, she said. Some of the dogs, particularly poodles and sheep dogs, can take four or five hours to groom.

"The show in itself is very nice and very calm," Ulberg said. "For people who want to get into dog showing, it's a great starting point. People can watch and learn, and the judges are very much about education."