Dog days of summer

Competitions aim to show off 4-legged friends

Posted: Thursday, July 07, 2005

Where can you find about 650 dogs in one place on the Kenai Peninsula? Well, at least this weekend they can be found at Skyview High School.

The Kenai Kennel Club will host its annual dog show, obedience, agility and rally trials at the school Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But the event is not only for serious dog handlers, one organizer says.

"It's a good opportunity for people to come out and see all the different breeds," said Sherrie Petty, chief ring steward on the show committee.

The event will feature four different venues demonstrating that man's best friend is capable of more than fetching the newspaper and begging for table scraps.

For example, there will be agility trials, where handlers direct dogs through an obstacle course that includes jumping through tires, weaving in and out of poles and crossing see-saws.

Those who are into breeding can watch conformation, where dogs are judged based on the breed's standard; in other words, how well the dog is built.

There also is an obedience competition, where dogs demonstrate their ability to perform basic through advanced commands. For example, while some dogs are doing the basics — sit and stay— others are jumping over bars and retrieving specific objects.

While these competitions have been around for a while, there is a new event at the show this year. Rally is a combination of obedience and agility. Handlers and their dogs follow a course made up of a series of signs. Each sign has a different command, such as "turn 360 degrees to the left," that is performed as a team.

But Petty said the weekend is about more than just competition.

"It's an opportunity to promote different ways to have fun with your dog," she said.

While many of the handlers are from Alaska, including places such as Fairbanks and Juneau, others come to the event from other parts of the United States, Petty said.

"There's just such a community spirit between owners and handlers," she said, likening the event to a big campout.

This event is not just for seasoned dog handlers either. Junior handlers also will participate. There will be a special recognition at noon Saturday for junior handlers ranging in ages 9 to 18.

The show starts at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per vehicle.

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