A great day for dogs and their humans | TheUnion.com

A great day for dogs and their humans

Dan BurkhartYvone Samuelson of Half Moon Bay brushes her collie, Skyler, just before showing him at the American Kennel Club/Gold Country Kennel Club dog show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds Sunday.
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Sunday was Ann Kinney’s perfect dog day afternoon.

Her year-old smooth-fox terrier, Setar Woodsman of Sylshire, had just won a “Best of Breed” award at the second annual American Kennel Club/Gold Country Kennel Club dog show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

To look at Kinney, hands clasped over her mouth and tears streaming down her face, you’d have thought this was her life’s crowning achievement. Almost was, too.

As judges presented her with a silver bowl, the Carson City, Nevada, resident could hardly speak or contain her emotions.

“I’m excited. I really am,” she said as the dog’s handler, Charlotte Ventura, waited inside a roped-off ring while judges huddled over a table in front of poodles, collies, shepherds and their giddy handlers.

“This is a nerve-racking time for me,” Kinney said, alternately blowing on her hands and jumping up and down. “If I had the money right now, I’d be going to Disneyland.”

It’s not exactly winning the Super Bowl, but it’s close for the hordes of dog handlers and owners who showed up Sunday to compete for ribbons, bowls and the honor of being named Best In Show.

For people such as Kinney, raising and handling dogs is a serious avocation with rewards that don’t always include cash prizes or promises of free super-premium dog food for life.

It takes a sense of dogged determination and love to train these pooches, to groom them so their coats glisten in the sun and their sinewy muscles catch the eye of discerning judges.

There was clapping and occasional hooting as men in sport coats and wingtips and women in dressy pantsuits trailed their dogs around several rings, waiting for applause and approval.

Susan Chow of Temecula brought a curly-coated retriever, a 31/2-year-old named Rebel to the fairgrounds. Rebel competes every weekend, Chow said.

“He’s our dog first, our pet,” Chow said. “They’re no different than the dog you might have.”

Victoria Herbert of Sonora said every dog has a distinct personality- like her Manchester terrier, Vitog’s Velvet Marionette.

“This dog is fun loving, she’s sweet – and she’s too smart for her own good,” said Herbert, a professional handler.

The dogs are aware of the competition, Herbert said, and thus perform accordingly.

“They’ve been socialized and they’re used to the crowd,” she said as crowds watched the show and purchased everything from dog hutches, bones, roasted beef liver treats, pet toothpaste, and, for the humans, ice cream from Lazy Dog Confections.

Blossom Scott, a breeder from Sonora, said the show was as much a social event as a competition.

“It’s the only place where amateurs and professionals come together,” she said. “It’s all about making a good impression.”

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