Groomer Terry Zhao, of Ohio, wraps Yorkshire terrier Bessie’s hair at the show. During competition,  Bessie’s long hair is left free and flowing, but it  must be wrapped following the competition  so that she can perform basic tasks.

Groomer Terry Zhao, of Ohio, wraps Yorkshire terrier Bessie’s hair at the show. During competition, Bessie’s long hair is left free and flowing, but it must be wrapped following the competition so that she can perform basic tasks.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Another day at the ‘paw-ffice’

Mixed breeds join in on dog show fun

By: Kayla Dimick | C&G Newspapers | Published January 29, 2020

  Australian shepherd Freyja, 11 months,  gets groomed Jan. 17 at the Michigan Winter  Dog Classic by Amber Aanesen, of Chicago.

Australian shepherd Freyja, 11 months, gets groomed Jan. 17 at the Michigan Winter Dog Classic by Amber Aanesen, of Chicago.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Riski, a 3-year-old long coat Chihuahua, gets groomed for competition by her owner, breeder and trainer Andrea Carter, of Marion, Ohio.

Riski, a 3-year-old long coat Chihuahua, gets groomed for competition by her owner, breeder and trainer Andrea Carter, of Marion, Ohio.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 DeWitt resident Melanie Hackett holds  Billy Holiday, a mini smooth dachshund. Billy Holiday  was named best of breed at the show.

DeWitt resident Melanie Hackett holds Billy Holiday, a mini smooth dachshund. Billy Holiday was named best of breed at the show.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — The idea that only purebred dogs are allowed at dog shows is a common misconception, according to dog experts.

From purebred Pomerianians to mixed-breed mutts, all dogs can have their day at their local dog show with the right training.

On Jan. 16, dogs from all walks of life and their humans took to the Michigan Winter Dog Classic to show off their looks and skills. The event ran through Jan. 19 and was hosted by the Livonia Kennel Club and the Oakland County Kennel Club.

Along with breed judging and grooming, pets and their owners were invited to partake in dock diving, flyball, a barn hunt, good citizen testing, a pee wee competition, vet clinics and reproduction clinics.

Penny Leigh, the Canine Partners program manager for the American Kennel Club, helped facilitate the My Dog Can Do That event at the show, which is a program for mixed-breed dogs.

Leigh said that as of 2009, the American Kennel Club started allowing mixed-breed dogs to register with the club, making them eligible to compete in events.

The American Kennel Club touts itself as being the country’s “leading authority on all things dog,” according to its website. It is the world’s largest and oldest nonprofit all-breed registry, with over 5,000 licensed member clubs and affiliated organizations.

“This event is called ‘My Dog Can Do That’ because it’s an opportunity for the public to be engaged with the dog show. We invite the public to come in and bring their dogs to try the sport of agility, which is an obstacle course for dogs,” Leigh said.

The event is a scaled-down version of an agility course. During the sport, a handler will lead the dog through an obstacle course race for both time and accuracy.

Leigh said local trainers were on hand to help the dogs and their owners get the lay of the land.

“This is for normal people. We don’t mind if the show people come over, but we’re really (doing) this for the public, because it used to be that the public could come to the dog show and watch everything and they’d say, ‘Oh, this is great, but my dog could never do any of this,’” Leigh said. “And that’s why we call it ‘My Dog Can Do That,’ because all dogs can. You just need the right motivation and the right training techniques.”

If you want your dog to try their paw at agility, the first and most important step is to train them correctly, Leigh said.

“Everybody should really start with basic obedience and manners. All the dogs that compete have probably gone through some basic manners and obedience because without a little structured control — sit, down, stay, come — it’s difficult to go to the next level,” Leigh said.

Rosie Soo, of Roseville, brought her mixed-breed pup Tallulah to compete in the barn hunt event.

Soo said during the barn hunt that the goal is for the dogs to detect a scent hidden among bales of straw.

“We don’t know (her breeds). She’s just some sort of pit bull mix,” Soo said. “She’s registered with the AKC as a mixed-breed dog, so we can do fun sports like barn hunt and agility and things of that nature. We really appreciate that they can register mixed-breed dogs.”

David Gibbons, the president of the Oakland County Kennel Club, said the Michigan Winter Dog Classic was one of the first dog shows in the country to implement the My Dog Can Do That program at its show.

“We have the beauty part of it, but one of the things people realize when they come here is how much we love the dogs,” Gibbons said. “This is not only a hobby, but it’s a sport, and it’s a chance for us to spend time and work with our loved ones.”