ENID, Okla. — If you love dogs, you’ve got to check out Sooner State Kennel Club’s (SSKC) annual dog show this weekend at Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
People are encouraged to come and watch. However, SSKC members remind you to leave your beloved canines at home. No pets are allowed; the only dogs allowed in the building are those entered in one or more of the events.
The show opened Friday for the agility event. Events Saturday and Sunday start at 8 a.m. each day for all four performance events — conformation (which is technically the dog show portion), obedience, agility and rally.
Admission is free; all spectators need to do is bring a chair and enjoy.
Sooner State Kennel Club, which formed in 1943, has been hosting all-breed dog shows in the Enid area since 1944. SSKC is a licensed affiliate of the national dog club American Kennel Club (AKC) so they typically host back-to-back dog shows, plus obedience, agility, and rally trials once a year in the fall.
The original dog show event, conformation is one of the most popular events in the world, as evidenced by Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which has been widely televised since 1948. In the conformation event or “dog show,” dogs are measured by how closely they conform to the standard of their particular breed.
Conformation winners mirror the closest to the breed. Does the dog have the face, the bone structure, the movement and so on of its particular breed?
American Kennel Club officially recognizes 200 breeds, which are divided into seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. During a dog show, the seven group winners are brought into the ring by their exhibitor (or handler) for Best In Show, the highest award at a dog show.
Unlike the conformation event which is limited to purebreds only, mixed breeds can compete in all the other events which are companion sports — obedience, agility and rally. Mixed breed dogs (and purebreds that aren’t eligible for AKC registration) can compete in performance and companion events at dog shows as long as they’re enrolled in the AKC’s Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL).
Obedience, which was developed in the 1930s and is one of the oldest dog sporting events, demonstrates the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring and emphasizes the usefulness of the dog as a companion to humankind.
“The objective of obedience trials is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions,” states the American Kennel Club’s website.
The agility event, which is one of the fastest-growing dog sports, was introduced in 1994. In it, dogs race against a clock as they navigate an obstacle course with strong concentration and speed. There are pole jumps, weave poles, tire jumps, table stands and more.
Rally, which is a combination of obedience and agility, is one of the newest dog sporting events. In it, the handler and the dog navigate a course side-by-side, steering through a course of 10-20 different signs. Each sign provides instructions regarding what skill is to be performed.
Other dog sporting events that have appeared at past SSKC dog shows include tracking, diving dogs, field trials, barn hunts, lure coursing and more. Sooner State Kennel Club also sometimes features specialty dog shows (a specific breed or varieties of one breed) or group dog shows (limited to dogs from one of the seven AKC groups) during its annual dog show.
Most handlers will have more than one dog entered in the Sooner State Kennel Club dog show, and some dogs may compete in several events.
It’s a good way to meet like-minded individuals who love dogs and love people who love dogs, explained several of the club members.
This weekend’s events also will give potential or first-time exhibitors and handlers a chance to observe how their breed is judged and presented.
Plus, Sooner State Kennel Club members are eager to share their knowledge; as experts in their breeds, they are happy to speak to what they’ve learned through the years.