From The Calendar

More than 1,000 dogs will compete at the Salt City Cluster Spring Dog Show

Lucy Naland | Presentation Director

Dogs run in Patricia Welch’s family. As a fourth-generation purebred dog person, Welch always had Irish dogs in the family, from Irish Setters to Irish Water Spaniels. The best thing about having a dog, Welch said, is having some company to share her life with.

“Since I live on the lake, they would go in the water and just have a good time hanging out with us,” Welch said. “They’re like a companion, they’re something to keep you busy, and you’re never alone when you have a dog.”

Welch is the chairperson of the Finger Lakes Kennel Club, Inc., one of the participating vendors at the Salt City Cluster Spring Dog Show. This indoor dog show starts Thursday and runs until Sunday at the New York State Fairgrounds from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission for adults is $5, and children 12 and under is $2.

The dog show began in 1980, when three kennel associations had previously done shows in Utica, New York, but had to move its location to Syracuse that year due to a gas crisis. Since then, the show has added more categories and now boasts more than a thousand dogs for its competitions, Welch said.

Dogs of almost all breeds will compete in a variety of categories, including conformation, where dogs are judged based on three categories; appearance and structure; obedience, in which owners “send dogs to jump over and do different things upon command,” Welch said; and rally, which is similar to obedience except owners are allowed to encourage their dog during competition.

On each of the four days, a different kennel association will be hosting the show: the Finger Lakes Kennel Club on Thursday, the Central New York Kennel Club on Friday, the Onondaga Kennel Association on Saturday and the North Country Kennel Club on Sunday. The clubs will also be selling dog-related items, like toys.

Caroline Waite, chairperson of the Onondaga Kennel Association, has participated in dog shows with her Boxer dogs for 52 years, and even won some championships in obedience categories. She said she likes that the show provides interaction between breeders and audience members.

“They’re not stuck up people, they’re all down to earth people,” Waite said. “When they’ve got time, they’ll talk to you for hours about their breed.”

The show’s judges come from across the United States and Canada. All participating dogs will be judged according to the American Kennel Club’s standards, the world’s largest purebred dog registry.

“We expect dogs to meet the standards, so poodles can come in black, white, and a variety of colors,” Welch said. “Poodles could be multi-colored, but then they wouldn’t meet the standards.”

Dogs will compete against their own breed first, and judges will then “pick the dog they feel best conforms to the breed standard,” Welch said. Those dogs will then compete against groups of other breeds. Judges also have the option to draw different entries for the competitions. Dogs will be categorized in seven groups, including Terriers, Sporting dogs and Toy dogs, with around 20 to 30 dogs for each group.

“Once they compete for group prizes, the first dog in each group will move on to the best in show category,” Welch said. “The dogs that aren’t picked compete for points towards their championships.”

In addition to watching the competitions, Waite said the show appeals not only to dog owners, but those considering getting a dog.

“The best thing to do is to go to the show and look at all the breeds and talk to the breeders because there’s more information at the show,” Waite said. “It’s a nice weekend thing to do.”

There will also be dog-training classes, with a class for veterans’ dogs on Friday, and one for puppies on Sunday. The other two days will have competitions for owners, in which owners compete with their dogs with no professional handlers in the ring, Welch said.

She advocates buying purebred dogs and said she purchases dogs that are bred with the genes she looks for. With so many different breeds of dogs, this show is also an opportunity for people to see which dog breeds would make for a good companion.

“If you’re an active jogger and you’re going to run all the time, you don’t want a Pekingese that can’t run. You need to be buying a dog that will be healthy and that will be guaranteed by the breeder,” Welch said. “This is an opportunity to see all the dogs and talk to the breeders.”

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