GULFPORT, Ms. (WLOX) – A good show dog is groomed early for competition.
“It all starts with training,” said Carl Grotton of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Kennel Club, co-sponsor of the Southern Harvest Cluster Dog Show. “You start training a dog from the age of three months to become a show dog. They can enter the show ring at 6 months and the sky is the limit from then.”
They had to show off their skills Mississippi Coast style. The dog show, held at the Harrison County Fairgrounds this weekend, had competitions in seven categories.
Carriere native Russ Bergeron treats his AKC Grand Champion Pomeranian like royalty.
“This is Kate, and she really is a princess,” he said.
Bergeron likes Pomeranian.
“The cliché is absolutely right,” he said. “They are very large dogs in very small bodies.”
According to Bergeron, he likes shows like this because they create a special connection.
“It’s a wonderful hobby,” Bergeron said. “And working with the dog in the ring creates a wonderful bond between the handler and the dog.”
Callie Hernandez has a similar description for her award-winning Chihuahuas.
“They’re little dogs with powerful attitudes,” she said, laughing.
After more than four decades of showing dogs, these little nuggets are her favorites.
“As we get older, our dogs get smaller.”
This year’s 850 entries represented some of the 200 breeds approved by the American Kennel Association.
One of the newest breeds to compete is a Dogo Argentino.
“This has actually been my husband’s dream for the past 10 years,” said Heather Daney of Louisiana. “He did research on the breed and decided he wanted Dogos because of their warmth, because they are so strong and just overall a good family dog.”
In fact, most of these dogs have a dual role.
“They’re show dogs first, pets second,” Grotton said. “And in some cases some of these dogs even have jobs around farms and things like that: tending livestock, protecting flocks.”
Ultimately, Hernandez wants to be here.
“Dog shows are my happy place,” she said. “I get away and enjoy my friends. I don’t show dogs for a living; I show dogs to make me happy.”
The show was also co-hosted by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Working Group Club.
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