Organizers of the Durango Kennel Club Dog Show, held over the weekend at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, reported low attendance this year.
But a good time was still had by attendees and their canine stars.
“It is a real chance to see rare breeds that you only see in magazines,” said Kristen Corbitt, an event organizer, as she pointed out a white bull terrier trundling along. “See, it’s the Target dog!”
Numbers are down this year, she said, because of the economy and competition from events in Albuquerque.
However, Corbitt said, “It’s still a popular show.”
Rhonda Mullenix, of Dolores, has been participating in competition dog shows for 15 years. She is showing her English Springer spaniel, Airedale carrier, border terrier and two cairn terriers.
“People don’t realize it is a competitive sport,” she says. “I’ve heard, ‘Oh, I could show my dog,’ thinking you just have to walk them around in a circle. But behind the scenes it is a lot of work to achieve good structure and muscle, and to be able to groom correctly. It comes down to the nitty gritty to win.”
Despite the smaller show — 325 dogs or so — the event is still a boost for the economy, as hotels and restaurants accommodate visitors. It also is a chance to learn about man’s best friends and mingle with their owners.
“It is a great opportunity for people to learn about the correct breed, type, correct grooming techniques,” Mullenix explained. “People at the show have spent 30 years trying to perfect their breed and are still trying to perfect it.”
There are the rare breeds, and then there are the stars, and both were enjoying the scene Friday.
A hairless Mexican breed, called xoloitzcuintli, or “sholo” for short, is an interesting, if not a bit weird, sight. Is it born that way?
“You can breed them with or without fur,” the owner said. “The breed has been around for thousands of years, and was considered sacred by the Aztecs.”
A happy-looking corgi named Libby was being meticulously groomed by Sherri Hurst, of Houston, Texas, to defend her title.
“She is the number one Cardigan Welsh corgi in the country,” says Hurst, the dog’s owner, or “handler” in dog-show speak. “She loves it, is really patient waiting her turn, and then she really struts her stuff. She is a wonderful representation of her breed and is known for the way she moves.”
In the back, a regal great Dane and his handler Vince Golio, of Mesa, Ariz., survey the scene.
Asked the dog’s name (a rookie mistake), Golio responded: “Champion Lake Jerdin’s Yabba Dabba Doo” the kennel identification. This type of lingo permeates all conversations at dog shows. What the reporter really wanted to know was the animal’s “call name.”
“Oh, this is Fred, he’s a real showman,” smiles Golio, and lets him out of the cage so he can say hi and lick the reporter’s ear. The 22-month old pup stands at least four feet tall and has a quizzical, friendly expression.
“They used to breed them to hunt boar they were known as boar hounds,” Golio explains.
“It is a good event here, a good show promoting purebred dogs. This is my first visit to Cortez. It is beautiful and the people have been very nice. I’ve been showing for 50 years, it makes for a nice lifestyle. I’ll come back next year.”
Dr. Don Schwartz, a veterinarian in Mancos, is enjoying the judging events as well and is waiting his turn to show his German short-haired pointer, whose call name is Spirit.
“It is a really nice facility here and an excellent judging panel. There are some really nice dogs being shown here. I’ll have to see how I do.”
The 4 Casa dog show will be held at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds June 22 and 23.