Keith Salyers remembers when he fell in love. It was 1986.
“I was playing in a church softball league...a little kid went by on a bike with a dog following along beside him and I said, ‘Hey, kid! Come here!’ I asked him what kind of dog that was and he said ‘whippet’ and I thought, ‘I’m going to have one of those some day.’”
Now, Salyers is the proud owner of four whippets: Arthur, the oldest and the only champion, so far; Anya, the only female of the pack and she is the pack leader; Jack, named after Salyers’ favorite golfer, Jack Nicholas; and Jet, his only black and white.
A member of the Huntington Kennel Club, which is affiliated with the American Kennel Club, Salyers is planning to be at an upcoming show in Huntington.
The show will be July 6 and 7 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena and is a great chance to see a wide variety of dog breeds and learn more about them, Sylvia Handloser, president of the Huntington Kennel Club, said.
The show includes confirmation, which is the style of show seen on television when the Westminster Kennel Club is broadcast, Handloser said.
There are also obedience shows and rally shows; lesser known than obedience, rally shows are similar but include more specific instructions that must be followed.
“Rally is more fun than obedience,” Handloser said.
Also at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the club will sponsor a Puppy Fun Match, an informal event for those who have AKC-registered puppies to give their little ones practice being in shows and allow new handlers to get some practice, too.
Handloser said nearly 600 are registered to show on Saturday and on Sunday.
“It’s considered a smaller show,” Handloser, a bassett hound owner, said. “We’re trying to build it up and hopefully, it will grow with the facility.”
Melissa Boggs, who owns Piper and Anna, two standard poodles, said she won’t show her dogs in this event because she’s busy working to make the show a success, but Piper competes in confirmation and Anna, who is primarily a companion, sometimes competes in obedience.
Boggs, the corresponding secretary for the Huntington Kennel Club, said she acquired Anna because she wanted a bigger dog after having toy poodles and chihuahuas and added another lated as a friend for Anna.
She said she’s been pleased with poodles.
“They’re intelligent, they’ve very eager to please their owners, they’re very people oriented,” she said, noting they also don’t shed.
She said being in the Huntington Kennel Club has been an advantage.
“It’s so nice to be able to talk to people with 40 years of experience who can give advice to newbies like me, she said.
Educating people is a goal of the club.
Handloser said the club encourages attendance at their shows, hoping people will learn more about dogs and breeds.
She said she also hopes people learn about the intentions of the club.
“We are dog fanciers as opposed to dog breeders,” she said, noting she supports rescue — she has bassett rescues in addition to show dogs — but the club aims to preserve the standards and the health of breeds.
“The whole idea is to pull out the very best in each breed,” she said.
Good care and compassion for animals also is crucial.
“The American Kennel Club has made strides to educate the public on responsible animal ownership, regardless of the breed or mixed breed,” Handloser said, adding the local chapter works with the 4-H program in Wayne County, W.Va., to do that.
Part of responsible ownership is keeping dogs safe, and Handloser said at 1 p.m. Saturday, the show will have a microchip clinic, where any pet owners may have a microchip placed in their pets so if they’re lost or separated during a crisis such as a flood or tornado, chances of finding the pet increase.
“We want to let the public know AKC and HKC supports responsible pet ownership and want everybody to have well trained, happy dogs,” she said.
The Huntington Kennel Club show will be July 6 and 7 at Big Sandy Superstore Arena. For more information, visit huntingtonkennelclub.net. For more information about breeds and shows, visit akc.org and huntingtonkennelclub.net.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.