Dog show draws national, international competitors to Westminster
By HEATHER COBUN and Times Staff Writer
Jan 17, 2015 | 4:22 AM
With the revered Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show set for the bright lights of New York next month, dogs and handlers from around the country, and even the world, are taking the opportunity to sharpen their skills this weekend — albeit in a different Westminster dog show.
The Snowbird American Kennel Club Dog Show, which began on Thursday, will continue at the Carroll County Agriculture Center until Sunday.
This is the second year the Ag Center has played host to the show, said Carroll Kennel Club board member Laurie Walters, and the Carroll Kennel Club is co-hosting with the Annapolis Kennel Club.
"We dog-show people bring in lots of revenue for the county," Walters said. The Days Inn in Westminster reported more than 100 nights booked by people in town for the show.
Though the competition is a great way to bring dogs and breeders to the Ag Center, Walters said it is also a good opportunity for members of the community to come see different breeds in action if they are considering getting a dog.
"It's a great time to come see the breeds and talk to the breeders to find out about what are some of the characteristics of the breeds [and] will it make a good pet or be suitable for what you want to do," she said.
Walters said people can also find out about any genetic issues certain breeds tend to have. A good purebred dog is often expensive due to the testing that goes into determining if there are any defects.
Taneytown resident Mary Smith, an owner of Scottish terriers, said she sells her Scotties to both "show homes" — where the dog will be trained as a show dog — and to families looking for a pet.
"All my guys are lap dogs," she said, "house pets as well as show dogs."
Smith said she doesn't place her puppies in a home until they are at least 12 weeks old, and by that time, they have been crate- and leash-trained, spent time around other dogs and people, and gotten used to being bathed and groomed.
Smith has had four of her Scotties achieve grand champion status at competitions, and one of them received a bronze medal at an international dog show.
Walters said the goal at shows such as this weekend's is to earn points by having a dog win its breed.
Dogs are pitted against one another based on appearance and behavior, she said. Dogs are shown in their class —which is determined by breed, sex and age — then the winner of each class competes against other dogs of that breed and sex that won their class.
The winner from each group is then considered for best of breed, Walters said. The best of each breed then competes in its group: terrier, toy, hound, working, sporting, nonsporting and herding.
Dogs often compete across multiple days because the judges for each breed change, and a dog can win one day and lose another depending on the judge, Walters said.