French bulldogs have descended on Spokane Valley for the week, strutting their stuff and striking a pose in the French Bull Dog Club of America National 2022 dog show that continues through Friday at the Mirabeau Park Hotel.
The show began with rallies, scent trials and temperament competitions this past weekend and then continued with beginner puppy and independent specialty divisions on Monday and Tuesday. The National Specialty Show portion of the event began Wednesday and runs through Friday and includes 197 dogs. On Saturday, the French Bulldog Club of Puget Sound will host several competitions with 147 dogs entered.
There was surprisingly little barking Thursday as dogs mingled and said hello to each other as they passed by. Dogs who were not in the ring either sat at their owner’s feet or in their owners lap or lounged in soft beds in small crates.
Amanda Kreeft, based in Portland, is a French bulldog breeder, owner and handler. She was there to show five dogs, including one by the name Frenchilicious Twisted Sister, aka Twisted. Kreeft first got into dog showing when she was 12, and in her teens worked at the renowned Regency Miniature Schnauzers Kennel in California.
She wasn’t in the dog show world from between the ages of 18 and 30. “Then one day I fell in love with French bulldogs and got back into showing,” she said.
Kreeft said she loves their comical nature. “I joke around that the boys just automatically love you,” she said. “The girls have just enough sass.”
She said that she picks her show dogs carefully, and she doesn’t just go by their conformation, or their physical attributes that meet the breed standard. They have to enjoy the experience. “I won’t bring mine that aren’t passionate about it consistently,” she said. “Some dogs just absolutely love doing this.”
Kreeft said she always makes it clear to people that her show dogs have a full life and have plenty of opportunities to play or take naps. “They do everything else other pets do,” she said. “They’re my babies first.”
Kreeft and Twisted participated in a Bred By Exhibitor Bitches class Thursday afternoon. The judge carefully looked at each dog, checked the size of their head, their shoulders and the placement of their back legs. Each dog did a runway walk so the judge could see how they moved. At the end, the judge was clearly deciding among the top four, having them each walk several extra times as she watched.
Christian McClelland and her dog Beni won first place in the class. She was so surprised and overwhelmed that she was in tears as her fellow competitors congratulated her. McClelland said she’s only been breeding and showing French bulldogs for three years. “I’m not a professional handler,” she said. “I showed her mom and her mom hated it. She absolutely loves it.”
McClelland said that Beni won a similar title last year in a mixed breed dog show, but she was overwhelmed to have her dog win in the largest show devoted to the breed on Thursday. “This is all French bulldogs,” she said. “To do it here, this is my first National Specialty Show.”
Angeline Leto of Colorado was also there with her dog, Molly. She’s also been showing for three years, but doesn’t do any breeding. She got into dog shows when a friend got involved. She said she was drawn to French bulldogs.
“They’re just so quirky and funny, great personalities,” she said. “It’s just kind of a fun hobby to be able to do with your dog.”