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Let the canine competing begin!

Friendship Cluster AKC All Breed Dog Show returns to Smithfield during Labor Day weekend

‘DOG-GONE’ AMAZING — The Friendship Cluster AKC All Breed Dog Show during the Labor Day weekend at the Jefferson County Fair grounds at Friendship Park in Smithfield will be held from Sept. 3-6. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The show will feature more than 800 dogs and 160 breeds with performance including dock diving, as captured in the photo from a previous show. -- Contributed

SMITHFIELD — This year’s Friendship Cluster AKC All Breed Dog Show during the Labor Day weekend promises to be another “dog-gone” exciting event, according to organizers.

Members of the St. Clairsville Ohio Kennel Club, Fort Steuben Kennel Association and Beaver County Kennel Club have been planning the four-day show for more than a year.

It will be held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at Friendship Park in Smithfield from Sept. 3-6. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The annual show attracts people from all walks of life and occupations, not just locally, but across the United States, Canada and overseas competing for championship points and wins toward obedience and rally titles.

“It’s fun entertainment for you and your family,” noted Jane Hendricks, president of the St. Clairsville Ohio Kennel Club. “If you’ve never been to a dog show, come and see what you’ve been missing. “This show is a great attraction,” Hendricks said.

Attendees will get the chance to see more than 130 breeds each day from ages 4 months to adult.

On Sept. 3 there are 700 dogs entered; Sept. 4, 865, Sept. 5, 850; and Sept. 6, 726.

Each day, one dog will receive the coveted Best in Show in conformation, and one dog will receive High in Trial in Obedience. In conformation, AKC judges look for the dog that closely meets the written AKC Standard for that particular breed. These dogs are judged and evaluated for structure, movement and temperament.

This year, some of the largest entries are: Pharaoh Hounds with 63 dogs, 65 Otterhounds and 60 Black and Tan Coonhounds.

Performance events are part of the show, too, including CABT, an acronym for Coursing Ability Test. It is a timed 100-yard dash where dogs run one at a time, chasing a lure.

“It’s over before you know it — and it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring to watch the dogs run at top speed, ears back, eyes focused, legs strong,” Hendricks observed. Any dog can enter on Sept. 4 or 5 as long as they are 12 months old and registered under the AKC or its Canine Partners or PAL program.

Another event is AKC Lure Coursing. It’s an exciting way for sighthounds to do what comes naturally — but in a safe, controlled environment. In this event, dogs chase a mechanized, white plastic lure around a more than 600-yard course that simulates the unpredictability of chasing live prey.

“Zig-zagging across a big, open field is simply heaven for these dogs,” Hendricks added.

Bob Damron, president of the Fort Steuben Kennel Club, said, “The North America Diving Dogs will hold an All-Breed Dock Diving event each day where titles can be earned. Dock diving is a fast-growing sport that is fun for dogs of all breeds, mixes and sizes. You can watch the competition or bring your dog for a fun splash.”

“Try its” also are available each day, assisted by experienced trainers.

Visitors 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, retrieving an object over a jump, and a more advanced exercise would include scent discrimination where dogs retrieve an article with their owner’s scent from among a number of similar articles.

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. The handler is permitted to talk, praise and encourage the dog. Exercises include various degrees of turns, circles, spirals, sits and varying speeds. Rally promotes fun and enjoyment for dogs at all levels of competition.

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.”

“There’s also one class that you won’t want to miss — it’s the Junior Showmanship Competition,” Hendricks said. “Boys and girls from ages 10 to under 18 compete with others of their own age, where they are judged on how they present their dog. Juniors also compete in many other performance events such as obedience, agility and rally.”

Junior classes were developed to recognize and support the unique relationship between a child and a dog, to encourage responsible dog ownership, and to secure a place for these youngsters in the fancy of today and that of the future as they become adults.

On Sept. 5, a rabies and microchip clinic will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon under the grooming pavilion. Drawings for baskets and other items will be held.

A variety of food will be available, and vendors will have dog-related items for sale. Judging hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Groups start at 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 3, 1 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2 p.m. on Sept. 5 and 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 6. The Friendship Cluster welcomes visitors to join them for refreshments during afternoon group judging on Sept. 3-5.

There is no admission cost, but for a $5 parking fee, visitors can bring the whole family. Attendees can bring their own lawn chairs for a ringside view. All rings are under tents, and obedience and rally in a building. There are 11 rings.

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.

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