Biting cold couldn’t stop excited dogs and their owners from gathering for the UKC Dog Show at Longview on Friday.
Owners and their four-legged friends roamed the Longview Exhibition Center waiting for the event to begin.
The show is organized by the United Dog Owners Group. Ann Bridges, trial secretary and member of the club, said it was a Marshall-based regional club that stretches from outskirts of Louisiana to the Dallas area.
Bridges has been with the club for around 14 years and said this is the second time the show has been held at the Longview Exhibit Center, the first in 2020.
The United Dog Owners Group was unable to hold a show in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
Kim Bond has been part of the group and has participated in dog shows for almost 30 years. She was at the show on Friday with her almost 2-year-old Norwegian Lundehund, Muggles.
It was the first time Muggles had attended the Longview show, Bridges said. Muggles are unique in having six toes on each of their paws, totaling 24 toes in all. Norwegian Lundehunds are the only breed capable of extending their arms sideways, Bridges said. They are also able to hyperextend their neck to touch their head against their back.
Several tests and trials are offered at the show, which continues until Sunday. Friday’s offerings included a nose job test, a rally course and obedience trials. A conformation test, rally course and obedience tests are scheduled for today, while a conformation test and rally course are scheduled for Sunday.
Conformation is the judgment of breeds based on a standard, Bridges said. Judges decide what the “perfect dog” would look like, act and more based on their breed.
“Breeders breed to that standard and try to choose the strongest traits and genetics to breed to that dog,” Bridges explained. “So when you get to the best of the show at the end of the day, it will be the one that comes closest to their level.”
She added that conformation events have several judges each day who are certified by the United Kennel Club.
Bridges said shows and training are important because many people don’t know how much there is to do with their dogs.
“Dogs aren’t just about sitting at home or sitting in the yard,” she said. “Just a little work and it opens up the whole world, not just to the dog but to you.”
The nose job is based on drugs and detective dogs, Bridges said. It has four classes: containers, interiors, exteriors and vehicles. Each class has multiple difficulty levels from Novice, Advanced, Superior, Master, and Elite.
The nose job tests offered at this year’s show are limited to the container class, Bridges said. She explained that they are cardboard boxes, one of which has a smell in the form of an essential oil.
“The dogs have to find the essential oil and tell us and we have to tell the judge,” Bridges said. “It’s getting harder and harder.”
For example, the novice level contains one scent that the dog must identify, while the advanced level has one or two scents that the dog must distinguish with a distraction. Some of the more difficult levels introduce food and toys as a distraction and will have multiple smells for dogs to decipher, Bridges said.
The rally course is made up of several stations that have signs with instructions for the dog and owner to follow, Bridges said. The rally part also has several difficulty levels, some involving the unleashed dog.
The obedience trial is one of the most formal events, Bridges said. During obedience, owners are prohibited from talking to their dogs. Owners are allowed to give a command, but the rest of the trial must be done without verbal communication.
Shayla Alexander and her two-year-old poodle, Padme, are at the dog show for the second time.
This year is Padme’s first time competing in obedience trials, and she’s also working towards earning her championship title, Alexander said.
“She has an advanced precision racing title, a regular championship title, a CGC (canine good citizen) title, an intermediate title,” Alexander said.
Alexander signed Padme for all three conformation shows as well as the pre-novice obedience trial.
“It’s a great way for dogs to be able to do something instead of staying home, and it gives people a better bond with their dogs,” she said.