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Dogs strut their stuff

READY TO COMPETE — Three-year-old border collie Jake gives his owner Terry Porter a “high-five” prior to entering the ring to compete Saturday at the Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Show under way at Friendship Park.

SMITHFIELD — Approximately 2,200 dogs encompassing more than 125 breeds have been strutting their stuff in Friendship Park this weekend at the Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Show.

The American Kennel Club dog show, now in its third year, is the joint effort of the St. Clairsville Kennel Club, the Fort Steuben Kennel Association and the Beaver County Kennel Club.

Jean Hendricks, St. Clairsville show chair, explained that the dogs will be competing in AKC all-breed dog shows, and obedience and rally trials in hopes of taking the Best In Show title. An award is also given for high in trial in obedience.

“There are over 650 dogs competing just today (Saturday),” she said. “The goal is to come down to just one show winner.”

Hendricks said the dog show draws people from all over the United States and Canada to the area and is a big boost for the local economy.

“We bring a lot of income in,” she said. “People stay in the local hotels, shop at the local stores and eat in the local restaurants. I saw where it is estimated that dog shows bring in, on average, $10,000 to $15,000 to the areas hosting them.”

Mary Yoders of Mount Morris, Pa., and her golden retriever, Austin, are two who will be competing this year. She said that the location of the show has a lot to do with why she came to Smithfield to compete. It is her second year at the show.

“This is a nice show,” she said. “The facilities have a lot to do with it.”

Professional dog handler Deena Rotkowski of Cleveland was another returning participant. She is showing Italian greyhound, Pizza, for owner Alexander Buchnerer.

“I show dogs for a living. This is our second time at this show,” she said.

Hendricks said that the show has participants of all ages with a division for children called the junior handlers.

“A lot of the professional handlers here started out as junior handlers,” she said.

St. Clairsville Kennel Club President Donna Simpson said that while the dogs and owners work hard, they also have fun. She said her dog Beckett loves to compete.

“Beckett sees the crate come out and he dives right in,” she said.

Hendricks said the same of her dogs. She said even those who no longer take part in the show like to come to “socialize.”

“They know where they are going,” she said.

The show will be going on through Monday at the park. Today is “Responsible Dog Ownership Day” and visitors will be able to meet and pet many of the dogs participating in the events.

A rabies and microchip clinic will be held on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A complete list of events can be found on the Labor Day Weekend Friendship Cluster All Breed Dog Show Facebook page.

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