Annual show draws participants from near and far

Dog days of summer

The Kenai Kennel Club's annual dog show drew more than 400 dogs of nearly 90 different breeds to Soldotna from all over Alaska and even across the United States.


The event, held at Skyview High School on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, consisted of three all-breed shows, with two obedience trials and two rally trials.

Marianne McCullough drove to Alaska all the way from Coconut Creek, Fla. Like most people, McCullough came to Alaska for vacation. But she also had other plans in mind.

"We thought, as long as we're coming, we might as well do the dog show," McCullough said.

McCullough, a middle school teacher from Florida, has been doing dog shows for five years. She had six dogs in competition. Five of her dogs are long haired dachshunds with rather unusual names. She also has a whippet, named Jasper.

"All my dachshunds are named after Muppets. I have Oscar, Elmo, Gonzo, Grover and Kermit. And it's funny, because all of them seemed to have taken on the personality of the Muppet they are named after," she said.

McCullough has always wanted to show dogs. When she was 8, her family went on a trip to Disney World. Just outside her hotel, a dog show was being held.

"My family all went to the park and I just wanted to stay and watch the dogs," she said. "I have loved them ever since."

Showing dogs was something she always wanted to do growing up, but never had the chance to.

Her dream came true five years ago when she began doing obedience shows with dachshunds. She saw the conformation competition and really liked that as well, so she decided she would start doing both. It paid off.

She started winning titles soon after.

"It's very addictive. It's time you get to spend with your dog and it's a different kind of bond. You get to do more with them. They aren't just lying on the couch. They are out doing stuff and they love it," she said.

Her dachshunds have won dozens of awards, including two for Best in Show. She also has a Grand Champion whippet.

The number of championship points awarded at a show depends on the number of males and females of the breed in competition. The larger the number of entries, the more points a male or female can win.

This means that larger numbers of entries also make it is harder to earn points. Her goal this summer is to travel around to the smaller shows to pick up more points toward making her dogs champions.

Her six-month-old puppy picked up a three point major on Saturday. He won the Winners Dog, which is one of the hardest to get, according to McCullough.

The Kenai Kennel Club show appealed to McCullough because of its size. She described the show as "people showing their dogs." In larger competitions, most of the dogs are shown by professional handlers.

She said professional handlers will show 200 dogs in a day sometimes and sometimes the notoriety of the handler will play an advantage. She likes that the smaller shows are just average people showing their dogs.

McCullough plans to enter several more shows while she is in Alaska for the summer. On her way back down to Florida she is stopping in Minnesota to enter a few shows as well.

Most people enter dog shows for breeding purposes. McCullough does not, however. She loves meeting new people that have similar interests and she loves to travel.

"We all have the same love, the love of dogs. It's really nice," she said.


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