Local dog handlers are preparing for the 10th annual Southern Maine Coastal Classic, Maine’s largest dog show, a competition that organizers say is more than just a beauty contest.

The four-day All Breed Dog Shows and Obedience and Rally Trials will be held on May 16-19 starting at 8 a.m. each day, rain or shine. It is being held at a new location, the Cumberland Fairgrounds in Cumberland.

“People may not be aware that Southern Maine Coastal Classic dog shows are not just ‘beauty contests’ such as Westminster Kennel Club’s annual televised show. We offer obedience and rally competitions, which entail a lot of training on the parts of both the dog and handler,” said TraceyLevasseur, publicity chair for York County Kennel Club and the Southern Maine Coastal Classic Dog Shows.

“Obedience and rally require more interaction between dog and handler as well. And even if a dog is a mixed breed, if it is registered through American Kennel Club as a mixed breed it is eligible, after proper training, to enter obedience and rally competitions,” Levasseur said.

Sponsored by the York County Kennel Club of Maine Inc. and Vacationland Dog Club Inc., the Southern Maine Coastal Classic features more than 180 AKC recognized breeds, Levasseur said.

“We invite the public to observe the various activities throughout the day,” she said. “Admission each day is $5 per vehicle. There is ample parking inside the fairgrounds. A food truck will serve food throughout the day and vendors will be selling dog-related items. Each day’s activities include regular conformation, obedience and rally concluding with a Best in Show winner.”

Levasseur said about 730 dogs will participate each day, representing about 100 breeds or varieties.

Activities are planned for each day of the show, starting May 16 with competition in the National Owner-Handled Series, a non-titling competition allowing owners and their dogs to compete against peers in their respective breeds, groups and NOHS Best in Show. Professional handlers cannot compete in this series, Levasseur said.

“On Friday, May 17, we present the Best Bred-By Exhibitor Competition,” she said. “This is open to non-champion dogs, and the person handling the dog must be the owner or co-owner and breeder of the dog. For spectators, this is an ideal way to see a particular breed and meet the breeder.”

May 18 will be a full day of competition including the Best Puppy Extravaganza, in which all puppies entered in the 6 to 9 months and 9 to 12 months categories are eligible to compete for Best of Breed Puppy.

“Each Best of Breed Puppy goes on to compete in best in their respective puppy groups. The best of each group finally competes for Best Puppy in Show selected before Best in Show at the end of the day,” Levasseur said.

Some puppies will enter the show ring for the first time in the 4 to 6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition on May 19.

“This competition introduces new exhibitors and their puppies ages 4 to 6 months of age to showing in a stress-free environment separate from the regular judging,” Levasseur said.

Also on May 19, AKC recognized and “rare breeds” compete for points toward a Certificate of Merit. During that event, exhibitors develop more ring experience plus get puppies socialized. Another National Owner-Handled Series competition will be offered and the Pine Tree State Doberman Pinscher Club, Inc., the Bearded Collie Club of America, Inc. and the Granite State Shetland Sheepdog Club of Southeast New Hampshire, Inc., will support their respective breed entries.

Levasseur said junior handlers are important to the future of the sport so the dog show will be offering Junior Showmanship all four days. Open to children 9 to 18 years old, with Open, Intermediate and Novice classes, the child is judged on his/her ability to handle and present the dog rather than the dog being judged. Junior handlers must have an AKC Junior Handler number to compete at these shows.

For those new to dog shows, all American Mixed Breeds enrolled in AKC’s Canine Partners Program may enter Obedience and Rally Competitions.

Camping at the Cumberland Fairgrounds is available. All RV parking is $40 per night, which includes water and electrical hookup only. Tenting without hookups is $25 per night. Contact Pauline Goodwin at 324-5400 or visit Vacationland Dog Club or York County Kennel Club  websites to download a reservation form at http://www.vacationlanddogclub.org/or  http://www.yorkcountykennelclub.org. Deadline for camping reservations is May 8.


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