(HELENA) Hundreds of dogs took their turns in the ring at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds Saturday, as the Helena Montana Kennel Club held its annual dog show.
More than 500 dogs entered the event, and more than 70 different breeds were represented – from Great Danes to Italian greyhounds. As the day went on, judges selected the best representative of each breed, then the winners of seven groups like sporting dogs and terriers, and finally best in show.
Handlers and dogs came from around the U.S. and Canada. Many of them camped out at the fairgrounds for the weekend.
“If you go out through the RVs, you’ll see Texas, you’ll see Alaska, there’s New Mexico,” said Jeanette Prevel, the show chair. “We’ve got a big entry from Canada.”
The Helena club’s show runs on Saturday and Sunday, but the Gallatin Kennel Club of Bozeman also sponsored a show at the fairgrounds on Thursday and Friday. Prevel said co-locating the shows saves expenses for the exhibitors and the clubs.
The Helena shows are now part of a circuit of American Kennel Club-approved events, along with two clubs that clustered their shows in Great Falls earlier in the week.
“If you can get a bunch of small clubs to have their shows one after the other, people are more apt to travel it,” Prevel said.
One of the people taking part in the show Saturday was Jennifer Corr, a breeder, owner and handler who was showing her three-year-old Alaskan malamute, Midas. She and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and had wanted to visit Montana.
“We saw the dog shows that were up here, so we decided to come up and see Montana and also do the dog show,” she said.
Ahead of the show, handlers like Corr were hard at work, making sure their dogs were at their best.
“On the day, he gets his feet washed, so it’s nice and white,” Corr said. “We have a blower and brush him out and get all his coat fluffed up.”
Organizers say it takes a lot of work to make the dog show possible. They receive help from volunteers with the Rocky Mountain Development Council’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP.
But Prevel said it’s worth the effort to put the show on each year.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the people, of other people that enjoy spending time with their dogs,” she said. “We wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun for us.”
The Helena Montana Kennel Club, an affiliate of the American Kennel Club, was founded more than 40 years ago. Prevel said they have been holding their dog show at the fairgrounds exhibit hall since it was built.
The dog show will continue through Sunday. In addition to the well-known confirmation event, it also features obedience trials and a number of vendors. The event is open to the public and free to attend, but dogs not entered in the show are not allowed in the building.