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Wufus is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel bred by Ben Schonefeld
If you walk into the home of Brian and Janet Carberry, you’d better have some warm clothing.
“Our house is permanently set on ‘meat locker,’” Brian said. “Everyone that comes to our house either brings a sweater or a blanket, depending upon how long they plan to stay.”
The thermostat is set low to accommodate the Carberrys’ eight dogs, four of which are large, hairy Great Pyrenees dogs. The pooches don’t have to experience Mobile summers very much.
“They stay inside,” Brian said.
The Carberrys used to show those larger dogs as well as Chinese Crested dogs, of which they own four. Now, however, they only plan one annual show, which is hosted by the Mobile Kennel Club (MKC), the Singing River Kennel Club, the Mississippi German Shepherd and the Mississippi Coast Toy Breeders Club. Janet serves as MKC president and Brian serves as show chairman.
Throughout MKC’s history, the annual dog show has most often been held in the Port City, in locations ranging from Fort Whiting to the Mobile Civic Center, but since Hurricane Katrina up until this year, MKC and the other groups have met at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi. Brian said the group held their first event in the arena after repairs from the storm. The 2019 show, which kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 4 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 8, will be hosted at The Grounds in Mobile. The Carberrys are happy the show is coming home.
“We’re excited to be back in Mobile,” Brian said. “All the equipment we use for the show is here in Mobile. We used to have to load it in people’s vans and truck it to Biloxi and then truck it back.
“So, all the logistics for us are so much better,” he added. “People don’t have to drive an hour and a half to come give volunteer time. We’re just ecstatic.”
The show is made up of two phases. The first is probably what most think of when they imagine a dog show. It’s called the conformation. The conformation is only open to purebred dogs and the registration has closed, Brian said.
In conformation, the dogs don’t compete against one another, but are judged on how closely they match their breed’s standards, Brian said.
“The American Kennel Club, for every breed, has what they call a breed standard and it describes exactly how that dog should be proportioned, built, put together; from height, length, coat type … head size, head width, head shape, muzzle width, eye set, feet … everything,” he said. “That dog is actually competing against that breed’s standard, not against the other dogs and that’s a real important thing. So that allows anybody who really has a well put-together, pure breed dog to compete.”
The dogs are split into breeds initially, Brian said. The winners from each breed competition are then separated into one of seven groups. The winner from each group then goes on to compete for the vaunted best-in-show title, he said. Four different shows will actually take place over the weekend, with four best-in-show winners crowned each day.
The show also features competitions for all dogs called the American Kennel Club All-American Dog competition. This phase of the show is made up of so-called “performance events,” including scent working, barn hunting, dock diving and coursing ability test, or CAT.
The barn hunt, being sponsored by Deep South Dog Sports, consists of hiding a rat in a tube in a hay bale maze with tunnels and having the dogs hunt for it, Brian said.
“The rat is not hurt,” he said. “I wish I was taken care of as well as these rats.”
Scent work is similar to what police dogs are trained to do, Brian said, where dogs sniff out a particular scent pod hidden in one of many boxes in a timed competition.
“We’re having what they call a buried scent,” he said. “They take the scent, put it in a box and cover it in dirt.”
Dock diving is judged by the length of the dive and how big the dog is, Brian said. In addition to those events, the show will feature two different CAT events. One is similar to dog racing where dogs chase a lure around a track and another is more of a 100-yard dash, which he said can be entertaining.
“You have not seen anything until you’ve seen a Whippet and a Saluki hit 40 miles per hour on the 100-yard dash,” he said. “I mean, those dogs get down and go.”
Many of the contestants of this year’s show come from either Mobile or Baldwin counties, including Ben and Cheryl Schoenfeld, of Daphne, who breed and show Cavalier King Charles spaniels. The couple has been touring the show circuit with their pooches since 1995, Ben said, and the hobby started when he and Cheryl got their first spaniel from her aunt in New Orleans.
“We had never been to a show before, until we went to one in New Orleans,” he said. “We thought, ‘dadgum, we can do that.’”
The Schoenfelds will be showing their ruby-colored female spaniel, whose full name is Ringleader Gitchi Gitchi YaYa. They will be bringing their newest addition as well, named Acadiana Pathway to Victory for Ringleader, but he’s not old enough to compete.
Kimberley Clothier, a Mobile resident who shows boxers, is bringing her champion boxer, named Lola, to compete. Lola, at 3 years old, is just a few points shy of a grand championship.
“These are things they enjoy doing,” Clothier said of the events. “It’s fun for them.”
Before touring the dog show circuit, Clothier spent many years at a company in Canada that trained bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs.
For more information, visit www.gulfcoastclassicdogshow.org.
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