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Dog lovers, handlers enjoy annual dog show at NIU

DeKALB – Charles Moore no longer owns a dog, so he looks forward to going to the Kennel Club of Yorkville’s annual dog show every spring to see the variety of breeds competing for Best in Show.

The DeKalb resident said he was especially excited to see the English setters and pointers.

“There’s nothing prettier than a nice English setter. They’re beautiful,” Moore said as he and his wife, Gretchen, looked on as that breed was being judged. “I used to hunt and own dogs, so seeing these dogs brings me back to when I was a kid. I’ve never seen a dog that I don’t like.”

More than 800 purebred dogs representing 150 breeds were on display Saturday and Sunday at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center for the annual show, which was free and open to the public. Each dog, which is judged according to its breed standard, competes in one of seven groups that include sporting, toy, nonsporting, herding, working, hound and terrier. One dog wins each group, and those seven winners compete for Best in Show.

Diane Severns, president of the Kennel Club of Yorkville, said the show has been held at NIU for about 10 years and is popular among Midwest handlers and breeders.

“[Dog shows] have been in existence since the 1800s. It’s our hobby,” she said. “We’re show people, and we love the sport of purebred dogs. Some people boat, some golf, and we do dog shows.”

Audrey Purpura of Roscoe was showing Albert, a West Highland white terrier. She said she enjoys the social aspect of showing Albert, and mingling with the other breeders and handlers.

“This is fun. It’s my sport,” she said. “It’s kind of like how people show cows or horses, but I like working with dogs. It’s fun to learn about the different breeders and make new friends with their owners.”

Barbara Bush of Rockford has been working with dogs for many years, and was showing her 2½-year-old Great Dane, Porter. She said she loves the sport because she’s been around dogs her entire life.

“Once I started showing Great Danes, I became smitten,” she said. “I’ve always been a dog lover. I’m retired, so this is my social life. I enjoy [showing dogs], and I like to be involved.”

Jane and Greg Romaneck of DeKalb, who own two dogs, were enjoying watching the dogs being judged.

“We love dog shows, and if you love dogs, you just feel good about being around all of them,” Greg said.

Ruth Raineri of Kingston said she always tried to make this show each year because it’s close to home.

“I’ve had dogs all my life, so I enjoy seeing all the breeds,” she said. “This is a good show because it always has a lot of different types of dogs and the breeders are very friendly.”

Lindy Sander’s cairn terrier, Scooter, was being shown for the first time, so Sander said the 1-year-old pup was feeling overwhelmed.

“She’s a good quality show dog,” Sander said. “This is the only sport where amateurs compete against professionals. It’s so rewarding, even when you lose. Animals bring something to your life that nothing else can.”

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