The next generation of dog handlers trotted out their champion breeds with superior bloodlines to earn ribbons at the Vernon & District Kennel Club Dog Show at Lavington Community Park.
“I have been showing for 10 years,” said 13-year-old Cheyenne Hamilton, who travelled from Red Deer, Alta., for the show.
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“I am actually a third-generation handler. My grandma showed dogs, my dad showed dogs and my mom is a whippet breeder. I have my own chihuahua. It’s really cool because when you go to school, no one really knows what I am talking about and you can just explain what it is.”
More than 300 dogs were brought to Lavington Park for the three-day event to compete for bragging rights and treats.
Nancy Higgitt’s favourite part of the weekend was watching the next generation compete with their dogs.
“(They are needed) to keep the world of dog shows going. A lot of us are getting grey hair, so we need new and younger people to come up. These kids love it and they do a really good job,” said Higgitt, junior director for the kennel club.
“They learn to connect, dog and kid, and build that bond while learning the responsibility of grooming the dog. They learn all sorts of things, and they learn friendship because they all hang out together afterwards.”
But the show isn’t just about looking your best and performing your best, according to organizers: it’s a place where people of all ages across Canada and the U.S. can come together and bond over their mutual love of dogs.
“I practise every day when I get home,” said second-year dog handler Gracie Cornell, who is going home with a first place intermediate novice ribbon with her rough collie, Nani.
Cornell is a member of the Vernon & District Kennel Club and attends handling classes every Monday evening during the regular school year.
“I practise and they teach me more about the dog I am showing,” she said.
But Cornell isn’t going home with just a new ribbon — she is leaving with a lot more.
“I’ve met friends. Like, really good friends.”
The dog handlers will return to Lavington Park next year to add to their collection of winning ribbons.
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