By STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN
From: Holland Sentinel
Holland —Puppies padded into the show ring for the first time Saturday, oversize paws, big, watery eyes and all.
Puppies who made their ring-side debut — and a few adult dogs who made an appearance — brought home ribbons but didn’t earn points in the American Kennel Club dog show circuit.
The biggest take-away from the show, organizers said, is the experience, especially for the young dogs, but occasionally the owners.
“It’s a chance for puppies that haven’t been to a show to get gone over by a judge,” said show organizer Linda Elenbaas. “They’ll eventually go into the American Kennel Club showings. … None are champions, they’re all just working toward it.”
But on Saturday, the future champions seemed content to chew on grass, wiggle instead of holding a show dog’s poise and — as one Doberman Pinscher puppy did — simply lay down and put its head between its paws when it all seemed like too much.
Puppy shows are a chance, too, for owners curious about showing their dogs to learn the ropes of dog showmanship.
It was the first show for both Holland’s Jamey Cousins and his 3-month-old Great Dane, Star.
“I’ve been wanting to get into it,” he said. “(Star’s) dad actually was shown.”
Not all pet owners become show enthusiasts. But those who do often are fans of a single breed, Elenbaas said.
“(Dog showing) is a nice thing to do with your family, but I think everyone here would say it’s about the love of the breed,” she said.
Shows become a way for enthusiasts and breeders to celebrate their favorite breed and test their own dogs against the breed’s ideal traits.
For Cousins, the best thing about Great Danes are their personalities: “They want to play constantly. They’re very curious.”
Contrast that to Julie Szymanski’s love of the Afghan hound.
“They’re aristocratic,” the Grand Rapids woman said. “They’re aloof. Plus, the flowing hair. They’re very elegant.”
Afghans aren’t emotionally needy like most other dogs, she said.
“They want to see you, but they can be across the room, kind of like a cat,” Szymanski said.
Since she was 7 years old, the Grand Rapids woman has adored the dogs, whose breed ideal is a long coat with a silky sheen — as opposed to a coat with the texture of cotton.
“I enjoy dogs as pets first,” Szymanski said, picking up a dog with a distinctive, silky gray-brown coat. “She gets into trash like other dogs.”
By the numbers
2 Years since the last Holland Kennel Club dog show
16 Number of dog breeds at the show
40 Participants at the Holland Kennel Club’s dog show Saturday
180 Pounds an adult Great Dane can weigh
Source: Holland Kennel Club.
Read more: Holland Sentinel