Elaine Mayield is the president and show chair of the Rio Pecos Kennel Club, and Marilyn Cozzens is the treasurer. Cozzens is also showing her dog Tango at the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog show this weekend.
“The show has been going on in Roswell about 30 years,” Mayfield said. “The kennel club has been active in Roswell since 1953.”
Cozzens said Tango has been a very busy dog.
“Tango is a Golden Retriever, 9 years old,” she said. “This is the second time I’ve shown him in this show. Last year, he couldn’t do the show because he was playing Sandy in the play ‘Little Orphan Annie.’”
The AKC has dog shows all over the country. Many participants travel the nation going to the different shows.
“We all go to each other’s shows,” Mayfield said. “To be a champion you have to gather points from different shows. It takes several shows.”
There are seven basic groupings for the dogs.
“The groups are non-sporting, sporting, hound, terrier, working, toy and herding,” Mayfield said. “It’s an elimination tournament. You go with your class. If you’re not defeated, you go to the next level.
“There are classes within each breed. For example, in Golden Retrievers there might be 6-to-9-month puppy class, there might be a bred-by-exhibitor class, then open dogs, the winners of those go into the best Golden Retrievers, which is called best-of-breed. The winner of that represents the Golden Retriever in the sporting group. The best-in-show is from the top winners in each of the seven groups.”
The judges travel for the shows as well.
“The judges are certified with the American Kennel Club and live all over the country,” Mayfield said. “The judges that will be here are from Pennsylvania, Arizona and two from Florida this year.”
The process looks fairly basic, but many details are taken into account during the show time.
“The dogs go around the ring,” Cozzens said. “The judges check their confirmation, then you run with your dog so they can check its movement against breed standard. Each breed is judged to its standard, not to a common standard.”
Mayfield explained confirmation.
“Confirmation is how the body is put together,” she said. “Bone structure and size, joint movement, and if they move true to the breed.”
The show has been growing steadily.
“We have 360 dogs up this year,” Mayfield said. “We’re up 10 percent. Things took a dive a few years ago, but we’ve been growing back at a rate of about 10 percent a year since. We’re real pleased with our entries. The show will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. The show is about five to six hours each day.”
For safety of the dogs and people, too, Mayfield said that pets not registered for the show are not allowed there.
“We want to stress that you can’t bring your dog to the show,” she said. “AKC prevents any un-entered dogs from being within so many feet of the show. This is largely for health reasons. We had a scare back east on canine influenza and dog shows were empty. If people know that disease is rampant in an area, they won’t go there. Also dogs can get hurt.”
People can bring their pets for microchipping, but they must keep them away from the show area and send someone in to find a kennel club member to help.
“We also do microchipping to identify a lost dog,” Mayfield said. “We put the chip between the shoulder blades. It’s like giving them a shot. That costs $25. If you want it done during the dog show, leave your dog with someone back away from the dog show and come get one of us. We’ll be happy to come to you, chip your dog and you can go home to register the chip. You get a strip of UPC codes for your records, and for your veterinarian’s records.”
There will be a raffle and donations taken to help pet rescue efforts in the path of Hurricane Harvey. The AKC will match every dollar raised.
There is an after-show event for pet owners who want to know if their dogs are good citizens.
“Canine Good Citizen testing is an AKC program for house pets,” Mayfield said. “A certified trainer tests the dog for social and interactive skills and gives you a certificate saying your dog is CGC certified.”
While the AKC is not part of Therapy Dogs International, they do support therapy dogs. The bottom line for the AKC and the Rio Pecos Kennel Club is to help pet/owner relationships to be strong and healthy.
“Responsible dog ownership is something that the AKC pushes,” Mayfield said. “We don’t care if it’s a Heinz 57 variety. We want the people and the dogs to have a great relationship.”
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.