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More dogs come out to compete

May 26th, 2003, 06:43 AM
More dogs come out to compete

By Megan Hopper
Pantagraph staff

BLOOMINGTON -- At one point Sunday, Rowdy was only three points away from an American Kennel Club Championship.
The 22-month-old Yorkshire terrier was competing at the annual Heart of Illinois Cluster of Dog Shows, held at Bloomington's Interstate Center. The event has shown increased attendance from last year, organizers said, and it continues today starting at 8:30 a.m.

Already a champion in Canada, Rowdy competed against other yorkies in the toy group in the open dogs class.

Owner Cheryl Hill, who lives in Roseville, Mich., has owned Yorkshire terriers for about the past 10 years, and all of the dogs have competed. "It started out as just a pet for my mother, but then one dog turned into two, and then two turned into three, and so on," she said.

During the show, each dog is judged based upon a standard for their breed set by the AKC in different categories such as: physical structure, condition, gait and temperament. "Each judge has to look at these things and compare it to the standard set by the AKC," registered judge Karan Kilgus said.

With Yorkshire terriers, there is not much to do when preparing them for a dog show. "Grooming is probably the biggest thing in preparing," Hill said. "They have hair just like a human's, and I usually spend about an hour each day on their hair." To avoid split ends, Hill said she wraps up a dog's hair so it will not drag on the floor.

Hill's dogs compete in shows in Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and parts of Canada. This is the first year she has attended the Cluster of Dog Shows in Bloomington, and depending on what she has to show next year, she might come back.

Showing dogs can be expensive, Hill said, but the wins are well worth it. "It's an expensive hobby for me because I don't breed as a business, I just do it for fun," she said.

"I like to come out of the ring knowing that my dog has shown well and I've done my best," Hill said. "There's a lot of days, though, where you just come out of the ring shaking your head."

Sunday's competition paid off for her -- Rowdy won Best of Breed and earned the three points he needed to become an AKC champion. "We're going home happy," Hill said.

Yorkshire terriers were just one of the 132 breeds broken into seven groups at the show, which has been held in Bloomington for close to 20 years. Melissa Pryor traveled from Louisburg, Mo., with her Australian cattle dog, Bonza, to compete in the show.

Bonza, who will be 2 years old in July, fared well during the competition. "He won his class; he's in the herding class, and he also won Best of Winners," Pryor said. "I love the excitement of winning, especially when the competition is really nice."

Pryor breeds dogs for competition at Bonza Farms in Missouri. "Competing is really addicting; all it takes is one win and you're hooked," she said.

To compete in the Heart of Illinois Cluster of Dog Shows, a dog must be AKC-registered, said show co-chairman Dan Arterberry. "There are money prizes as well as trophies for the winners, but they vary from club to club and from day to day," he said.

This is the first year that the show has started on a Friday, and the number of entries was up from years past, Arterberry said.