KINGSTON, R.I. — Last weekend, the Providence County Kennel Club held its 157th and 158th all-breed dog shows, where canines showed off their pedigree and poise.
Dogs from New England and beyond competed in conformation shows, where judges evaluate how well purebred pups meet the standards for their breed. In the first round, all dogs from each breed are compared, and the dog who best fits their breed’s standards moves on to the next round. In this new round, the top dog from each breed is judged against different breeds of dogs who belong to the same dog group, such as the toy group, sporting group, or hound group. The winner of each group moves on to the final round, where the judge crowns one of the dogs Best in Show, based on which dog conforms most to their breed’s standards. Dog show organizers said that dog shows help breeders evaluate their breeding stock, as well as temperament.
“I just love to see a dog who is effortless in the ring, and has a natural presence,” Pamela Deleppo, president of Providence County Kennel Club, said.
An English foxhound named GCH (Grand Champion) Monocacy Bends Waterford, handled by Katie Shepard-Bernardin of Chaplin, Connecticut, was awarded Best in Show on Saturday. GCH Irvonhill Voignier, a wire fox terrier handled by RC Carusi of Oxford, Massachusetts, was awarded the top prize on Sunday. There were also junior handler competitions, in which handlers under 18 competed with dogs. Julia Green, who showed a field spaniel, and Lily Brener, who showed a Pembroke Welsh corgi, won Saturday and Sunday’s Junior Showmanship competitions, respectively.
The event also featured an owner-handled category, in which only dogs that are handled by their owners, rather than a hired handler, can participate. GCH Hobarra’s I Dreamed a Dream, a Scottish deerhound owned and handled by Shawnine Cirincione of Danbury, Connecticut, was crowned Saturday’s Owner-Handled Best in Show. A dalmatian named GCH Merry Go Round Lavender was named Owner-Handler Best in Show on Sunday, with Christine Ramalho of Barrington, as the owner-handler. Ramalho said that the owner-handler category makes the dog show world more inclusive to newcomers.
“I just enjoy being in the ring,” Ramalho said. “While I’m handling Lavender as her owner, I learn to be better, and have competition with people at our level.”
The event also included obedience trials, in which judges evaluate how well dogs follow commands, and rally events, where dogs and their owners must work together to successfully follow a course that includes commands. Golden retrievers dominated obedience trials on both days, while rally standouts included a Standard Poodle nicknamed August and a Pomeranian named Robin’s Precious Zoey Bear.
There were 579 dogs entered in the Saturday show and trials, while 591 dogs participated in the Sunday show and trials. A total of 109 breeds were included. Deleppo said that most participants came from around New England and the Northeastern United States, with some outliers from Canada, Midatlantic States, and southern states.
Deleppo said that dog shows serve as educational opportunities for potential dog owners. Many handlers and owners were more than willing to give newcomers advice on taking care of and adopting dogs.
“People come like, oh, I want a beagle,” Deleppo said. “But they don’t realize there’s so many scent hounds in that family, and they might see something that fits them more than a beagle, but it’s because they don’t know. So when they come here, they see more breeds than they have ever thought of. And then they have an interaction with the dog and suddenly they’re like ‘I love this one.’”
Deleppo grew up showing dogs, and has shown Shi Tzus, Japanese Chins, and Brussels Griffons as an adult. Providence County Kennel Club Secretary and Show Chairperson Kathleen Augaitis, who raises Papillons was introduced to the show dog world over 20 years ago by her sister.
“[What I like most about dog shows is] the dogs,” Augaitis said. “Just your relationship with them, and they each have their own personality. Like I got a wise guy now, a diva. But my old guy, he’s nine, and he’s just a love muffin.”
Deleppo emphasized the community humans and dogs alike form in dog shows, and that the community prides itself on being understanding of others regardless of background.
“It’s definitely a community and it’s a feeling of, especially in this day and age, a community of a lot of acceptance,” Deleppo said.