COLUMBIA — Prince the pug cocked his head to the left with an inquisitive look on his face: a smushed mass of black and tan fur folded around a pair of bulging eyes.
The dog was sitting on a table in a corner of the Central Missouri Events Center, and he had just heard one of his favorite words: show.
Kamryn Ure, 10, readied Prince to enter the ring with her in a competition for young handlers at the Columbia Kennel Club dog show on Sunday afternoon.
Kamryn brushed Prince, dabbed Vaseline on his nose and fluffed the fur on his neck, all the while feeding him bits of his favorite snack: string cheese she kept in a "bait bag" pinned to her pink business suit.
She wore a pug pin on her lapel.
"It shows that we are pug owners and that we own pugs," she said.
Kamryn described the personalities of her dogs, saying that Prince is "weird" and Prince's daughter Brooklyn is "sassy."
Her mother, Karla Ure, looked on, with a small silver pug pendant dangling from a chain around her neck.
"He loves to show," she said..
Around 1,000 dogs and their owners traveled to Columbia for the weekend's event, which featured competitions in the categories of obedience, rally and conformation.
Show Chair Debi Bell of the Kennel Club, said the weekend had gone smoothly, thanks to the many volunteers. She said the organizers do everything they can to make it a nice experience for the dogs and their owners.
"We fed 'em cake yesterday afternoon," she said, referring to the human attendees — not the dogs.
Handlers came from all over the country to show their dogs. One traveled all the way from Alaska this year, Bell said.
Karla and Kamryn Ure and their two pugs came from Florissant on Saturday for the show.
Karla Ure said she began dabbling in dog shows in 1995 with a pug of her own. She bought Prince in 2007 to use as a serious show dog. Her daughter followed in her footsteps, and has been showing dogs since she was 4 years old.
Kamryn practices every week with an instructor, who gives her pointers on presentation and showmanship. KarlaUre has to remind her not to swing her free arm when she walks with Prince around the ring.
"It's very competitive," she said.
John Myshrall, who came to enjoy the show, watched as Kamryn and Prince entered the ring with an assortment of breeds — from an enormous Great Dane named Martina to a tiny, long-haired Chihuahua named Jasmine.
Myshrall doesn't handle dogs, but his son used to. He said he just loves to come and see the dogs. He said his favorite breed to watch is the Shetland Sheepdog or "Sheltie," a sheepdog that looks a bit like Lassie.
In the ring, Kamryn waited for her turn with the judge, putting Prince in the preferred "square" stance and trying to get him to keep his tail down. When it was her turn, she walked him around the ring and then lifted him onto a table for the judge's inspection.
A few minutes later, she left the ring holding a frilly green bow — third place. Prince, on his leash, trotted alongside at her feet.
She said she would put the bow on her bedroom windowsill, next to seven or eight others she's won at other competitions.
Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.