Fort St. John kennel club looks to grow high-calibre dog show

It's probably one of the best kept secrets in the Peace, however, organizers of a dog show held each year in Taylor would like to see that change.

The Fort St. John & District Kennel Club has just seven members. It can be tough putting on a large-scale event like one held last weekend but the group is determined to keep it going as long as there's an interest. While the show is well-known and well-attended on the Canadian Kennel Club's dog show circuit, many of the participants who come are from Alberta, mostly from the Edmonton-area. Organizers here are hoping to grow the local membership and, in turn, its volunteer base.

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“It means we could do more... maybe do a (another) rally, we could do more seminars, more manpower to get stuff done,” said club secretary Dini Smoler.

“Right now, you know, with the smaller numbers, it's hard to put on a big show like this. We're all volunteering our time, so the more members, the better.”

Those same volunteers, Smoler points out, are also participants, some with more than one dog in the show.

While not well known, the club's history does go back several decades.

“It was in the 80s when (it) came together... we started doing obedience rally confirmation shows, just like this one,” said Smoler, a 10-plus year member. “We're a small club but we're always looking for new members.”

The target is for 20 members. The annual event also takes up a lot of time between shows, Smoler said.

“All year long we're looking sponsors. All year long we're planning. In general, I'd say, a few solid weeks of work to make this show a success.”

One of the leading reasons for the show's popularity in the dog show community is the fact it's indoors and credits that with securing the Taylor District Ice Centre, Smoler said. “We're very fortunate we've had this arena rented for years and years, so we don't have to have an outside show, so that's a bonus.”

Shows like the one held last weekend in Taylor are overseen by the Canadian Kennel Club. Dogs are judged on several different characteristics and awarded championship points. As a result, Smoler says this particular show attracts competitors from all over.

“They campaign their dogs. You know, we've had people from the Yukon. We've had people from the States... as far as Ontario. If it's a judge you like and you want to show under, you make the trek," she said.

Grant Townsend, a retired high school teacher from Edmonton, who now lives in Victoria, is a certified CKC judge and one of the show's favourites. He says he considers a number of factors when adjudicating a show dog, starting with silhoutte.

“How close the dog comes to their breed standard. I want to see that it looks like a Shiba (for example), has all the components. When you're judging it individually, you look at the head, top line, tail set, bone...teeth.”

Townsend says he could do shows almost every weekend year-round, but limits it to once or twice a month.

Smoler, whose six-year-old Great Dane, Zaila, was entered, says the club is fortunate to have such a high-calibre show and hopes it'll be able to maintain it in the future.

The event though, and dog shows, in general, do come with their other challenges.

“When it's a volunteer club, and you don't have the (financial) backing, you're very limited.”

The club is also unable to expand its boundaries past the Dawson Creek area, because of established regions within the CKC.

Although popular, this year's show in Taylor did see a drop in numbers. Smoler felt the climbing price of fuel played a large role.

“Anything we can do. We're always looking for sponsors. We're always looking for donations. It's what keeps our club alive.”

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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