Cal Expo Dog Show to prove it's a canine's world

04/05/2012 12:00 AM

04/05/2012 9:13 AM

As Celine vigorously runs circles around Carole Baird, there is little doubt what this border collie was born to do. She lives to herd. Sheep would be ideal, but a human will do in a pinch.

Some purebred dogs herd. Some live to retrieve. Others just make excellent all-around companions.

A staggering 4,000 dogs of all breeds – including Celine – will compete next Thursday through April 15 at the Cal Expo Dog Show, each looking for recognition as the best of its breed.

Operated by the Sacramento Kennel Club, this event is one of the 50 biggest dog shows in the country, and the oldest running event at Cal Expo besides the State Fair.

Baird, a breeder who also owns the Creekside Pet Resort in Sacramento, thinks the show is an excellent opportunity for dog lovers to learn more about the canines they own now, or those they might want to bring home someday.

"People can see what their dog has been bred to do," she said.

Added show promoter Rich Vida: "A lot of people come with no idea what they want, but maybe on an impulse they see a dog and it just strikes them."

The show, which will be held indoors, will include conformation trials – the beauty shows of the dog world – as well as rally and obedience trials.

Judges will be on hand from all over the United States.

Then there's the shopping. Because this is a large dog show, it has around 75 vendors.

"They have beautiful work, from jewelry to art to metal work to photo- graphy," Baird said. "(They have) things for your dog, too: collars and leashes that you would never see at big-box stores in your local area."

And because the show is at Cal Expo, food vendors and the beer garden will be open.

One of the interesting things about this dog show, Vida said, is that it seems to attract an unusually high number of novice entrants, not just breeders who participate extensively in shows to establish the quality and reputation of their dogs.

He said the Sacramento Kennel Club offers weekly practices for people who want to learn how to show dogs. Some of the skills people learn are how to get their dogs to strike a pose, walk while a leash is attached, accept being touched by judges and behave themselves in a ring filled with other dogs.

So how does someone who's not a breeder get hooked on dog shows?

Baird said she sees it all the time. Breeders sell puppies before they can see how good the dogs will grow up to be, so they often ask the buyers to bring their dogs back a year later.

"They'll come back, and my God, it's a knockout – a superstar!" she said.

So the breeder will tell the dog owners what they have and encourage them to enter the dog in a show.

"They get in there and they win a blue ribbon, and they're hooked," Baird said.

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