Overlooking Harpers Ferry, WV, sits the historic St. Peter's Catholic Church. In the foreground stands a monument to abolitionist John Brown, whose campaign to abolish slavery in the 1850s led to one of the earliest pre-Civil War battles in what was then Virginia.
Monique Hetterscheidt and Yeti after winning first place in the Herding Dog category.
West Friendship, Md., Feb. 15, 2020—Well-groomed and well-behaved, they arrived in SUVs, campers, and motor homes. There was Abby, Benjie, Declan, Firefly, Maestro, Marley, Mattie, Spicey, Theo, Yeti, and others. Some were from Maryland, plus towns in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New England states. Was this a soccer or basketball game? A political convention? None of the above.
This was the Maryland Kennel Club, hosting an All Breeds Dog Show at the Howard County Fairgrounds over Valentine’s weekend.
And touch our hearts they did, regardless of size, markings, or performance. Some with big, bright eyes, while others had eyes hidden by long fur. Some waited in their crates, while others enjoyed last-minute salon touch ups.
When I arrived, the Basset Hounds were lined up in the ring, ready to be judged. American Kennel Club standards for each breed are applied to individual dogs, evaluating such traits as the dog’s head size and proportion, its muzzle and teeth, neck, eyes, ears, forequarters, hindquarters, tail (if the breed has one), hair length and color, and gait. To me, just an observer, they were all adorable.
The dogs were organized into seven groups: Toys, Terriers, Sporting, Working, Non-Sporting, Hound, and Herding. Strolling around, I met Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Boxers, Irish Setters, Dachshunds, English Springer Spaniels, French Poodles, German Shepherds, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Terriers. Other breeds included Borzois (Russian Wolf Hounds), Pointers, and Salukis. With more than 1,500 dogs entered on Saturday alone, I may have missed a few breeds.
Dr. Cheryl Stiehl, a veterinarian from Pasadena, Md., showed a beautiful pair of Irish setters, and another vet, Dr. Kate Bremser from Rougemont, near Durham, N.C, showed Firefly, her English Springer Spaniel. I spent some time with dog breeder/trainer Monique Hetterscheidt and her Australian Shepherd named Yeti, from Ruther Glen, Va., who won first place for the owner-handler competition for herding dogs and Best in Show.
Regardless of whether a dog placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or further down, a treat awaited each contestant at the end. The top four in each ring received ribbons and a china trophy with the Maryland Kennel Club logo. The Best in Show received an impressive black and gold ribbon mounted in a shadowbox for display.
To encourage the sport of dog shows with the younger generation, this club provides the junior showmanship event for no fee, setting it apart from other clubs.
If you have a chance to attend a dog show, go and enjoy it.