Peering Into the World of Dog Shows

In 2013, over 22 million people tuned in to watch National Dog Show Presented by Purina on their television on thanksgiving day. Over 2 million people tuned in to watch the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog show in 2014 on CNBC and USA. These televised dog shows draw huge numbers of viewers and is loved by many, possibly because of the love they have for their own furry friend.

However, the sport of dog shows isn’t just the shows we see on TV. These dogs and people work very hard to get to the shows that are nationally televised. The journey is long and sometimes expensive, as is the sport of AKC dog showing.

The American Kennel Club was established in 1884, where its only competition was confirmation shows. This judges the dog purely on its appearance and structure, and essentially confirms that the dog is good breeding stock. Confirmation as a sport itself has evolved into a somewhat glamorous sport, one that includes professional handlers.

Stephanie Hentschel, 22, of Midland, Michigan has been showing dogs for 11 years and recently became a professional handler for confirmation shows.

“My favorite part of dog shows is the fact that you’re always still learning. Every dog is different,” Hentschel said.

She travels to dog shows in the midwest almost every weekend, and brings along a mixture of her own dogs and “client dogs.” Client dogs are owned by others that pay the professional to handle them at shows. Sometimes the client dog lives with the handler, sometimes it gets dropped off or picked up on the way to the show.

At the Ingham County Kennel Club show in Lansing, Michigan on Nov. 27 Hentschel had 14 dogs with her in her rig, a motorcycle motorhome transformed into a traveling dog kennel. When asked about money, she said that showing dogs professionally doesn’t make a ton of money, but enough for her to breed and show her own dogs.

The sport of dog shows doesn’t stop there. Obedience, introduced in 1936, is a competition that tests the dogs training. From there, other events evolved. By the 1980’s obedience trials, field trials, coonhound events, and hunting tests were established. In 1998, agility, was introduced. This popular sport tests a dogs fitness, responsiveness and training by running through a course of obstacles including jumps, weave poles, and tunnels.

Melanie Rock has been showing dogs in agility for the past ten years. She originally started the sport when she was looking for something to do doing the winter, when training her horses for shows was slowing down. Now she has trained 5 of her own border collies for agility and is a trainer for other people’s dogs as well.

“You’ve got to let the dogs think they’re right so they have a good time,” Rock shared.

If there’s a consensus on why people enjoy the sport of dogs shows, its definitely because they love the time spent with dogs, and love seeing them happy.

“I love the relationship. Even if I don’t own the dog it’s always special,” Sue Wyglendowski, a professional handler shared. “This boy likes to jump up in bed at night and licks my neck to say goodnight.”


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Are you a “Dog Person?”

From the American Kennel Club Gazette: Learning How to Evaluate Dogs: a Four Part Approach

According to the American Kennel Club “Developing an eye for assessing dogs is like any other skill. You need basic understanding of what you are looking at, and then you need practice. The more you train your eye to look for variations, good and bad, the better you will become at evaluating a dog or group of dogs.” 


Read the Article for more insight to the world of Dog Shows.


Flipping Again: Starting the CMU Club Gymnastics Team

For Morgan Taylor, starting the CMU Club Gymnastics Team is more than just a chance to flip again, but a chance to say goodbye to the sport she loves. In high school, Morgan broke her back and her gymnastics career stopped abruptly. Now, after months of planning, she and two others started a CMU Gymnastics club that will start competing in the spring of 2016, giving her and other gymnastics lovers a chance to practice and compete with in the sport they love one more time before saying their final goodbyes.