Friendship Park dog show draws hundreds
SMITHFIELD — Hundreds of dog owners from many states, Canada and other countries and their four-legged companions of more than 100 breeds have traveled to Friendship Park this weekend to participate in the Friendship Cluster Dog Show held by the Fort Steuben, St. Clairsville and Beaver County kennel clubs.
Open to the public, the event continues today and Monday, with judging from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information about when a certain canine breed will be shown, call (740) 346-0842 or visit the event’s Facebook page at Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Shows.
Today is Responsible Dog Ownership Day, when visitors will have an opportunity to learn about specific breeds, including whether they would be a good fit as one’s pet.
Lu Castro of Cleveland, one of many dog handlers at the event, said it’s important for prospective pet owners to understand the temperament of a particular breed, which often is determined by the purpose for which they were bred.
For example, some dogs were bred to herd sheep or cattle and can be quite energetic so it naturally takes time to train them for household settings, she said.
Sporting breeds — such as labs, retrievers and setters — often are more happy-go-lucky in nature, said Castro, while taking her three-year-old Rottweiler, Jet, to a competition.
In addition to raising Rottweilers for 30 years with her husband, Castro is a professional handler who has participated in competitions with the dogs of owners who are not able to attend or prefer to watch.
For those not able to attend today, Castro recommends the American Kennel Club’s website, at www.akc.org, which she said contains a lot of information about various breeds.
During the competitions AKC judges look for established standards for a particular breed, evaluating their structure, movement and temperament.
There also are competitions in which dogs are judged on obedience, with the canines and their handlers working together to perform specific tasks.
There also are separate events for puppies just beginning to participate in dog shows and for young handlers.
Elizabeth Woolford of Poland, Ohio, whose Brittany pup placed in one category at the show, said, “It’s a pretty good sized show and very nice grounds.”
Woolford said she became interested in dog shows through a 4-H leader who had participated in them and has since shown dogs at events in Michigan and Indiana as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Seventeen-year-old twin brothers Matthew and Mitchell Fox of Eden, N.Y. appeared with their Shetland sheep dogs — one 8 months old and the other, 1 1/2 years old — in the junior showmen event.
“It’s a very nice show,” Matthew said of the Jefferson County event.
The two said they have entered dog shows for about five years, and the farthest they have traveled for one was Minnesota, about 15 hours from home.
Asked what they enjoy most about them, Mitchell said, “The time spent with the dogs.”
Among the most-traveled dog handlers at the show Saturday was Terry Farley of Bentleyville, Pa., who has entered dog shows in Amsterdam in the Netherlands as well as California, Florida and Puerto Rico.
“I was here years and years ago when they used to have shows here before,” Farley said as he groomed his 1 1/2 year old apricot standard poodle.
Farley said he started entering dog shows 28 years ago while living in New York City, and one thing that brought him to the Pittsburgh area was more space in which to exercise his dogs.
Debbie Ruzendes of Stone Creek, Ohio, a member of the Fort Steuben and St. Clairsville clubs, said she has appeared in dog shows for 5 years and attended the Smithfield show a few times, but it was the first for her 7-month-old coonhound.
Ruzendes said her daughter-in-law introduced her to dog shows and the two participated in many together until her work took her away from the area.
She said Friendship Park “is a beautiful site for a show. Hopefully next year we can grow the show even more.”
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.)