Saturday was the day to get brushed, fluffed, primped and trimmed at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
Nearly 1,200 dogs from around the country competed at the annual Spokane Kennel Club Dog Show and Obedience Trial.
Dogs of the same breed competed against each other for the title Best of Breed. Those winners competed in eight different groups, including hounds, terriers, herding dogs and working dogs. The group winners will compete for the title Best in Show today.
It seemed as though any breed imaginable was being groomed until they glistened. The familiar breeds were there: German shepherd, Dalmatian, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels. But there were also breeds that might require a quick Google search to learn more about: Schipperkes, Vizslas and Shiba Inu.
Each breed is judged differently, said show chairman Barbara Nelson. The judges count the teeth of some breeds. Chows have to have a bluish-black tongue, with no pink spots allowed. Judges look at the dogs’ grooming, conformation and gait.
“You’re going to notice them,” Nelson said of the dogs. “They’re beautiful.”
Brandy Brian made the trip from Boise to show her 2-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Belle, and her 18-month-old golden retriever, Memphis. She started showing after she visited a dog show near her home while she was considering buying a golden retriever as a pet.
Owners have to be in tune with their dogs for a show to go well, she said.
“Dog showing is a dance with a partner,” she said. “It’s a pretty dance when you see a nice team go out.”
Belle took second place Saturday, but Memphis was out of luck.
“He still looks like a puppy,” she said.
Her dogs were done for the day and were resting in their padded crates after having a meal. Belle quickly disposed of her lunch like it was a light snack and whined for more.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this to do with my dogs,” Brian said.
Brian said she usually travels to two shows a month. In between, she takes her dogs hiking to keep them physically fit. Memphis is particularly fond of water. “He thinks swimming and mud puddles are the best thing in the world,” she said.
Rachel Fiscus, 12, was at the show with her Great Dane, Ariel, who she co-owns with her grandmother. Fiscus is only about 2 feet taller than her dog, a lumbering, loving giant. The two have been showing together for four years. Ariel is also a therapy dog.
“When I first started showing her I weighed 60 pounds and she weighed 120,” Fiscus said. “She just stood there and let me do whatever.”
Fiscus is in the family business. Her grandmother has shown dogs for 30 years and her mother has done some showing as well. She lives in Missoula and travels to between 15 and 20 shows every summer with her grandmother when she’s not in school. Fiscus has a soft spot for Great Danes.
“I like that they’re big,” she said. “I just like how sweet they are.”