COLUMBIA — Four legged royalty came to visit the Central Missouri Events Center on Saturday morning.
With perfect posture and their big, black eyes at attention, Princess Kate and Prince William commanded the room. A crowd formed around the pair, leading others to wonder what the big fuss was about.
While they aren't exactly heirs to the British throne, the two Japanese Chin dogs that competed in the Columbia Missouri Kennel Club's All Breed Dog Show had personalities that lived up to their high profile namesakes.
"They really do think it's all about them," the dogs' owner and trainer Jill Johnson said with a laugh.
Besides the royal couple, more than 1,000 dogs from across the country attended the annual dog show, packing the events center with about 100 different breeds.
The dogs participated in various competitions, testing things like their ability to respond to commands or how well a dog fits its breed's standards. The public was invited to watch the dogs compete and mingle with the winners following the competition.
"I think we make it a very nice experience," show chair Debi Bell said. "We're very welcoming, and we try to make them comfortable."
Bell said the dog show takes an entire year to plan.
"We're always planning our next show," she said. "We actually already have some of our judges hired for next year."
Johnson came from St. Louis to enter her dogs from Shomei's Kennel in the rally competition, which involves the handlers commanding the dog to perform certain tasks that are placed on signs in the competition rings around the events center.
Both William and Kate advanced to the next round on Sunday, each earning their first title "rally novice."
"I'm just so proud of them," Johnson said, giving each dog on her lap a round of kisses.
The dogs got their names because they were born right around the royal wedding two years ago.
"Their mother's name is Princess Di, so it was not hard to name them," Johnson said.
Japanese Chins were only allowed to be owned by Japanese royalty until the 1850s, Johnson said. Characterized as toy dogs now, the breed is historically known as lap dogs.
"They definitely live up to their names in all senses," Johnson said.
Johnson has been around dogs her whole life, as her mother was a dog breeder. Her mother's dogs would compete in dog shows in the conformation category, which judges dogs to the standard description of their breed.
"I don't like doing conformation because it's a lot of pressure," Johnson said. "Also, William over here only has one testicle, so he can't compete. We call him a one-nut wonder."
As Prince William and Princess Kate recovered from their performances, a 147-pound Newfoundland named Jurik lay on the ground, his two front legs crossed, looking a little royal himself. His owner Connie Meech met Johnson at a dog show in Wentzville earlier this year and ran into each other at the events center early Saturday morning.
"(This show) is huge," Meech said. "There's so many dogs it's hard for him to focus."
Children crowded around the dogs as the rally competitions came to an end. Surprised by the stark difference in the size of the two breeds of dogs, chatter and camera flashes filled the section of the events center. Jurik promptly shied his head away from the flashes.
"Oh, he doesn't like the camera," Meech said with a giggle.
Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.