Show gives dogs chance to make paw-some performance

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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Eager Rottweiler Libby, at owner Perry Yinger’s request, trotted toward the edge of the obedience trial arena, then stopped short to look back at her handler.

Precisely what she wasn’t supposed to do.

“‘Go out, what do you mean go out?'” Yinger said. “She stopped and turned and looked at me like, ‘What was I doing?'”

Libby, a 5-year-old would-be lap dog with a smiling face, had a poor showing Sunday during the Greater Clark County Kennel Club’s dog show, held over the weekend at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

“She knows exactly what to do and she just kind of flakes out for a bit,” Yinger said, but at least the dog enjoyed it.

“She’s having fun and that’s the important thing,” Yinger said. “As soon as it becomes drudgery for her we won’t do it. As long as she’s having fun out there we’ll do it.”

Everybody knows about the traditional dog show, or conformation show, such as the kind you see on TV, or the show the club is putting on next weekend, club President Don James said Sunday.

In those shows, purebred dogs are evaluated by experts for how well they conform to the breed standard for the dog.

“But there’s a whole other area of dog shows that are called performance events or companion events,” such as the ones held on Saturday and Sunday, he said.

In general, companion events, such as the obedience challenge Libby and Yinger tried, include handlers, while performance events are less guided, and might have dogs working on their own to chase after a lure.

“What we’re trying to do with this weekend is try to get all the different things people can do in the companion and performance arena — obedience, rally, scent work, trick dog, barn hunt — all of those things together in one venue, and have a weekend where people can do that,” James said.

This will be the third year the club has taken that varied approach, and James said the club saw record entries in the obedience, rally and scent work categories.

Combining confirmation events with performance and companion events is uncommon among dog clubs and show organizing groups, he said, and it’s something he’d like to see change.

Entries in confirmation shows are declining, he said. Having more for dogs and their owners to try out strengthens the purebred dog enthusiast community.

“They’re over there, and we’re over here. They’re doing the beauty contest, we’re doing the real work,” he said. “Instead of grinding the gears, why not mesh the gears?”

The American Kennel Club, he said, has noticed the local club’s model and had a film crew at the show to make a video about organizing such events.

“I mean, look, there’s one reason we’re all here. We love dogs. That’s it,” James said. “So why not?”

Carol Andrew, of Vancouver, was putting her miniature poodle, Zoomi, through a lure course Sunday.

The dogs chased a garbage bag tied to a wire on a pulley system.

Zoomi comes from a long line of performing dogs and earned a novice trick title earlier, Andrew said.

“I wanted to try this out because he just loves to run. That’s how he got his name,” she said.

He also tried out a trial barn hunt event, where the dogs sniff out dog-socialized rats hidden in PVC tubes amongst an obstacle course of hay bales.

“There’s so many things you can do with your dogs these days,” she said. “They love it.”