Best in Show

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We’re dog people.
My mother says that I was co-raised by a  dog–Cindy, a blue Weimerainer. This 60 pound beauty would gently prop her nose into my crib and make sure I was breathing. If I cried, Cindy would race out of my nursery and find my mother, who was usually hanging clothes on the line. Cindy would bite a corner of Mom’s blouse and pull her into the house. I had Cindy on my mind when I drove over to Franklin, Tennessee, to see an AKC dog show.

 189 dog breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club. I didn’t see any Weimaraners, but I saw Borozis, American Eskimos, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, and many more.
 I’ve been dogless for a long time, and this show was a smile-maker.
The owners and handlers were friendly, going out of their way to help me get a photograph. The charming dogs posed naturally, with good grace. They’re so photogenic, all I had to do was point the camera.
 As you can imagine, I took about a million photographs.
Waiting to go into the ring…

 

 

 

 

 Basset Hounds wear soft “snoods” to keep their long ears out of the dirt floor prior to show time.
  

 

 Finally, it’s show time. From an early age, puppies are taken to handling classes, which are offered at local dog clubs. The pups learn how to walk around the ring (and it’s a little more complicated than ring around the rosy. Many years ago, my husband and I took our dogs to handling classes–the dogs did fine, but I kept walking the wrong way). The youngsters learn to be examined by the judge; and the classes aid with socialization, too. At six months of age, the puppy can enter the ring. The judge evaluates the dogs’ conformation and temperament, which includes a hand’s on exam. Points are awarded to dogs that exhibit the best characteristics of their breed. The goal is to earn enough points for an AKC championship. But showing is also a family activity–children of all ages can show dogs–and lifelong friendships have developed between breeders.
 Over the years, I’ve talked to handlers, and they all say the dogs love going to the shows. One handler said that all she had to do was clap her hands and say, “We’re going to a show!” And the dogs would dance in circles. I saw happy, bright-eyed, friendly dogs of all breeds.

 I love all breeds–all of them are best in show in my mind–but terriers will always have my heart.
 
We have our favorites. Dogs from childhood or dogs who became our best friends. No matter the breed, they leave paw prints on our souls.

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