COLUMBIA — First, Darin, a sandy brown-and-white Pomeranian, started barking. Then, the rest of his dog pals joined in. It was a chorus of seven canines, almost all Poms, rocketing their yip-yip-yips high into the expansive Central Missouri Events Center.
"They think they're as big as German shepherds," their handler, Karen Chisam,said. She rapped on the wiring of the dogs' cages, telling them, in essence, to put a stuffed toy in it.
Chisam was among the handful of dog handlers and owners setting up Friday for the Columbia Missouri Kennel Club's annual dog show Saturday and Sunday at the events center, formerly the Boone County Fairgrounds.
More than 900 dogs, representing more than 100 breeds, will compete each day.
Chisam has been showing dogs for 18 years.
"I started going to shows with a friend and fell in love with the competition," she said.
Chisam, who works for internationally known dog breeder Diane Finch, will show five Pomeranians and one smooth Brussels griffon this weekend.
The show runs from 8 a.m. to about 5 p.m. both days. Admission is $2 for adults; children 12 and younger get in free.
Events include obedience, conformation and rally competitions. Susan Sczepanski, a Columbia veterinarian who is the assistant show chairwoman, gave the following explanations:
- Obedience: shows the accuracy with which the dogs respond to commands from judges and more limited commands from handlers;
- Conformation: judges how close dogs conform to the breed standard;
- Rally: a beginning level of obedience in which handlers will follow signs placed in the rings and will be allowed to talk to their dogs.
Young handlers can compete in the junior showmanship competition for ages 9 to 18.
Dogs that win in their breed will move on to group competitions. Group competitions are split into seven categories including sporting, hound and terrier. Winners in the group competition will move on to the compete for the best in show title.
On Sunday, the competition will start over, and the judges will be switched around, making it possible for entirely new winners to be chosen for that day.
Peggy Howard hopes her rough collie, 2-year-old Buttons, will garner points toward her championship title this weekend in the conformation competitions.
Howard has been showing collies for 30 years, a family business that started after her mother read the "Lassie" books.
"This is good experience for her," Howard said. "Experience is important for a young dog."
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.