Terry Reese has toured the country with her best friend Missy, participating in contests and making new friends.
“We take my van and pack it to the roof,” Reese said.
Reese’s friendship is unique because Missy is a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees, a 100-pound sheep-guarding dog whose breed name is derived from the Pyrenees Mountains in France where the breed originated.
Reese travels to dog shows all over the country, from her home in Strang, Okla., to Arizona, Michigan, Denver and Chicago, among other places. However, the annual show in Columbia is one of her favorites.
“It’s worth the drive,” Reese said.
This year’s show, sponsored by the Columbia Kennel Club, was held at the Boone County Fairgrounds on Saturday. Another show is held today, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the grounds.
Near the fairgrounds, the barking of over 1500 dogs fills the air. Grooming tables line the sides of the main event room, allowing owners to do last minute touch-ups before they show their dogs.
The American Kennel Club sponsors the show; its original purpose was to evaluate breeding style within the organization.
Dogs are evaluated on their teeth, eye color and muscle tone. Each dog is compared with the characteristics of the “perfect” example of the species, determined by the American Kennel Club.
Liz Hansen, who has been the show chairman for four years, said the show is a good family sport for kids and adults where they can learn to train and interact with their dogs.
“It’s fun, and it’s kind of addicting,” Hansen said.
Only purebred dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club, which includes over 150 breeds, are allowed to compete in the show.
Hansen said judging only purebreds makes the competition uniform because purebreds have predictable characteristics.
“These dogs are bred to do a job,” Hansen said. “When you mix breeds, you can’t guarantee what you’re going to get.”
Another purpose of the show is the opportunity for potential dog owners to observe different kinds of dogs, seeing breeds that they might not have thought of purchasing.
Reese said a lot of families can benefit from researching dogs before they buy them, and they come to the shows and ask her questions about her dogs.
“You should be looking for a good match,” Reese said. “You need to find a breed of dog to fit your lifestyle.”
or example, Reese said that a Great Pyrenees would not be good for someone who lives in an apartment or has neighbors nearby because of the dog’s large size and its bark.
“I did an experiment, and you can hear the bark from two city blocks away,” Reese said.
Seven different breed categories participate in the show: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, herding and non-sporting breeds.
Kathy Zwicker, who drove from Iowa for the show, has four Pembroke Welsh Corgis, which is a herding breed. Zwicker said she exclusively breeds for shows, rather than for sale.
“We try really hard to have really good Corgis,” Zwicker said.
Guy, one of Zwicker’s Corgis, won Best of Opposite Sex to the Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show in New York. Zwicker said Westminster is considered one of the best shows among breeders.
The Columbia Kennel Club’s Best in Show award will be presented at 4 p.m. today.
Hansen said though some breeds usually show well, such as Afghan hounds, every breed has an equal chance to win at the show.
“It’s the dog on the day,” Hansen said. “Whoever pulls it all together is going to win.”
Reese and Zwicker will show their dogs today at the fairgrounds.