Barking up the right tree

Four-day dog show at Friendship Park to feature more than 650 dogs, 160 breeds

The Labor Day weekend Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Show at Friendship Park in Smithfield returns this year from Friday through Sept. 3 at Friendship Park in Smithfield and will feature more than 650 dogs and 160 breeds all four days. The junior showmanship competition, middle photo, is one of many classes that spectators won’t want to miss, according to organizers of the event, which are the St. Clairsville, Ohio, Kennel Club, the Fort Steuben Kennel Association and the Beaver County Kennel Club. -- Contributed

SMITHFIELD — If you’ve never been to a dog show, come and see what you’ve been missing.

That’s the invite from Donna Simpson, president of the St. Clairsville, Ohio, Kennel Club, regarding the upcoming Labor Day weekend Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Show at Friendship Park.

“This show is a great attraction,” Simpson said of the four-day event sponsored by SCOKC, the Fort Steuben Kennel Association and the Beaver County Kennel Club.

It will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sept. 3 at the fairgrounds and feature more than 650 dogs and 160 breeds all four days.

The annual AKC All-Breed Dog Shows, Obedience and Rally trials attract many people, not only from the United States, but also from Canada and overseas, all of them competing for championship points and wins toward titles.

“It’s fun entertainment for you and your family,” Simpson noted. “You will get to see more than 130 breeds from ages 4 months to adult.”

The number of entries for each day are 536 on Friday; 662 on Saturday; 664 on Sept. 2; and 514 on Sept. 3.

At the end of each day, only one dog will receive the coveted best in show in conformation, and one dog will receive high in trial in obedience, organizers explained.

In conformation, AKC judges look for the dog that most closely meets the written AKC standard for that particular breed. These dogs are judged and evaluated for structure, movement and temperament.

Spectators also will be able to watch the obedience and rally competitions. In obedience, each purebred or mixed breed dog and its handler work as a team performing a set of exercises, including on and off leash heeling, stand for examination and retrieving an object over a jump. A more advanced exercise includes scent discrimination where dogs retrieve an article with their owner’s scent from among a number of similar articles.

The rally competition consists of the dog and handler team completing a course that has been designed by the judge. The dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations, and the handler is permitted to talk, praise and encourage the dog. Rally provides a link from the Canine Good Citizen program to obedience or agility competition and promotes fun and enjoyment for dogs at all levels of competition.

Dock diving, a fast-growing sport that is fun for all dogs — mixed or purebreds — makes its first appearance at this year’s show. North America Diving Dogs will hold the event all four days. Tryouts will be held each day from noon to 1 p.m. For information, call (715) 797-6665.

“You can watch the diving and air retrieves or try out the sport assisted by experienced trainers,” Simpson noted.

On Friday and Saturday, Sighthounds will run in the lure-coursing event, beginning at 9 a.m. The Coursing Ability Test or CAT, which is held each day, is open to dogs mixed or purebred as long as they are registered with the AKC, Canine Partners or PAL. Each dog runs individually and chases after an artificial lure on either a 300- or 600-yard course.

Participants can pre-enter or enter on the day of the show. For information, contact Judy Lowther by phone at (216) 402-9022 or by e-mail at

Sept. 2 is the Fort Steuben Kennel Association’s “Responsible Dog Ownership Day” when show visitors will be able to meet and pet many of the dogs being exhibited.

Robert Damron, president of the FSKA, said, “We encourage you to touch the dogs and really get to know the breeds.”

Presenters will be able to discuss the good points, bad points and health concerns of their breeds. “If you are considering adding a dog to your family and not sure which breed will fit your lifestyle, the dog show is the perfect place to start,” Damron noted.

Tom Davis, president of the Beaver County Kennel Club, said, “We also have a special treat on each day — it’s the 4-to-under-6-month puppy competition. This competition gets puppies ready for the show ring when they can enter the show for points when they are 6 months old.”

The junior showmanship competition is another class spectators won’t want to miss, according to Davis. Boys and girls from ages 10 to under 18 compete with others their own age, being judged on how they present their dog. Juniors also compete in many other performance events.

Junior classes were developed to recognize and support the unique relationship between a child and a dog and to encourage responsible dog ownership, organizers explained.

Drawings for baskets and other items will be held daily, and there will be a bake sale on Sept. 2, sponsored by the Beaver County Kennel Club.

A rabies and microchip clinic will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 3. For information, call (740) 346-0842. The cost is $25 for microchips and $20 for a rabies shot.

A variety of food will be available, and vendors will have dog related items for sale. Judging hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m each day, with dock diving lasting until 6:30 p.m. Group judging starts at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Fort Steuben Kennel Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the Beaver County Kennel Club will mark its 70th anniversary as a club.

“The Friendship Cluster welcomes you to join us for refreshments during group judging each day,” said LuAnn Kennedy, Friendship Cluster publicity chair. This is the second year for the Friendship Cluster shows with all three clubs, according to Kennedy.

There is no admission cost to attend the shows, but there is a $5 parking fee.

“You can bring the whole family, and you will have a chance to win a $100 gift card,” Kennedy added.

For information on the show or to find out what time a favorite breed is showing, visit Labor Day Weekend Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Shows on Facebook or call (304) 281-3087.