Gayle Prescott has been involved in dog shows for almost half a century.
There have been a number of dogs over the years, though Wednesday the Eldersburg resident was showing 2-year-old Bella, a Weimaraner.
“I’ve always wanted to show dogs,” Prescott said.
Bella is just one of many dogs that will be shown this week and weekend at the Spirit of Maryland Canine Classic.
The event, which is free with a $5 car fee, is put on by the Carroll Kennel Club, the Kennel Club of Anne Arundel and the Annapolis Kennel Club. It runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, 706 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster.
The Danele Shipley Memorial Arena was filled Wednesday with dog owners and handlers. Crates holding the pups were lined up around the edges; some dogs laid in their cages, while others were groomed and brushed to look their best.
In the center of the room were fenced-off areas, designated for the show.
For Prescott, a large draw to the show is the competition and the breeding — but perhaps the best part, she said, is the animals.
“I love the dogs,” she added.
Prescott said she still raises dogs, but for many years she would handle dogs, too. Through her time participating in dog shows, she’s gotten to travel all over, she said. And through that travel, she’s met a lot of wonderful people along they way.
Many of her friends are involved and are animal lovers, she added.
For Louann Tracy, of Catonsville, building friendships with others involved in dog showing has also been a great aspect of being involved.
There’s a lot of camaraderie, she said, adding, “there’s a social aspect to it.”
Tracy, who is a member of the Anne Arundel Club and an exhibitor, was showing two Portuguese water dogs on Wednesday. She said she got one from a breeder, who told her the dog was beautiful and asked if she considered showing it.
“So we thought, ‘OK, we’ll try it,’ ” Tracy said. “It was a good learning process.”
And now, about 10 years later, she’s still at it. She got hooked, she said. It’s enjoyable to watch your dog in the ring, and see the judge appreciate what you like about your dog, she added.
And while for the owners it’s a fun experience, it’s also one that the dogs enjoy, David Dorward of the Carroll Kennel Club Inc. said.
Dorward, of Mount Airy, said he helped hire the judges for the five-day event, and has shown dogs over the years.
“It’s a fun sport,” he said. “If you have dogs, you get a chance to do a lot with them.”
It’s good for the dogs to be involved in the competition, he said. The handler and the dog work together — they make a team, he added. Dogs need to have a job, he said, adding that dogs are like humans in that regard.
“You get to see dogs that are having fun,” Dorward said. “They love being in the ring. They love showing.”