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A show just for the dogs

For dogs, it’s not always easy being beautiful. It can take a lot of practice.

And that’s the reason a group of Whidbey Island dog owners has organized a dog show this Saturday at the Greenbank Club House. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the show starts at 10 a.m.

“We need practice before we go to shows,” said Gail Allen, owner of basset hounds and Central Whidbey’s Tail Gate Ranch. “There are not many opportunities on the island.”

The dog show is sponsored by Whidbey Island Hound Fanciers, an informal group of hound dog owners and lovers. They had their first dog show last year, for hounds only.

This year, the dog show is open to all purebred dogs. Unregistered, spayed and neutered dogs are welcome.

Allen said the dog owners don’t even need to register ahead of time. They can register the morning of the event, before 10 a.m.

Allen is one of many Whidbey Island residents who travel around the state, or even around the nation, to show their dogs. Like the famous Westminster Dog Show, the dogs are judged as to how well they conform to breed standards. To become good at it, the dogs, especially young ones, and their handlers, need to practice.

Allen said dog showing takes a lot of work and dedication. She’s been showing dogs for more than 40 years. In recent years, she showed her basset hounds around the state and into Oregon; she plans to attend the national dog show in St. Louis this year.

“It’s like any sport,” she said. “If you really get into it, it becomes addictive.”

In fact, Allen said nearly a dozen basset hound owners from outside the state moved to Whidbey Island and started the Whidbey Island Basset Hound Club. The field trial club was recently approved by the American Kennel Club.

Coupeville resident Brian Black is also a member of the basset hound club and will be a judge in the show. While each dog owner has his or her reason for preferring a certain breed, Black said his love of bassets doesn’t come from the show ring.

Bassets are amiable and loving, but they also tend to be stubborn knuckleheads. They don’t like to pose for the judges, for example, because they see no reason to do it.

“They say if you can show a basset hound,” he said, “you can show anything.”

But beyond bassets and other hounds, Allen and Black hope that a wide variety of dog breeds come to the show. There will be trophies and ribbons for the best dogs in each of seven categories, from working to toys, as well as best of show.

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