Overnight, tents and white fences sprang up in Lacey’s Dream Team Park. And by Saturday morning, about 1,000 dogs — of all shapes, sizes and breeds — had arrived for the Nisqually Kennel Club Dog Show.
Over the course of the weekend, hundreds of dogs will compete in two dog shows — one taking place Saturday, and one on Sunday. Two lucky pooches will be named Best in Show.
Show Chairman John Chinn said the event, an American Kennel Club competition, draws contestants from all over the western United States and Canada.
“We tracked it by ZIP code one year, and we get dogs from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Colorado, British Columbia and Alberta,” Chinn said. “I guess people like the way we run the show. We want people to come, show their dogs and have fun.”
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The event is fun for spectators, too.
“We welcome people to come out and talk to breeders, learn about different breeds,” Chinn said.
Husband and wife team Dorothy and Neal Trosino traveled from Portland to compete, with Pomeranians Rocky and Charm.
The duo started their dog breeding and showing careers about 45 years ago. Back then, they worked with much larger dogs: Airedale terriers.
They took a 10-year break when their children were in high school, but got back into the game after finding a stray Pomeranian in the road. They’ve been showing the small, fluffy dogs ever since.
“They’re fun to watch,” Dorothy Trosino said. “They have so much energy and personality. They’re just a very fun breed.”
The Trosinos have their hands full. At home, they have a “herd” of 14 Pomeranians, Dorothy Trosino said. Each year, they breed one litter. Neal Trosino also competes in obedience shows with Saint Bernards.
But on Saturday, they brought only Rocky, a 3-year-old male, and Charm, a young female. Dorothy groomed Rocky before the competition, explaining that Pomeranians don’t take as much maintenance as other breeds in the toy group. Dogs are bathed before the competitions, then they’re trimmed around their ears, feet and tails.
“We don’t do too much,” Dorothy Trosino said. “We just tidy them up.”
So far, Rocky has had a successful career. Dorothy Trosino said he’s ranked eighth in the nation for his breed.
“He’s done really well,” Trosino said.
Chinn said the process of narrowing the contestants to Best in Show happens relatively quickly. On Saturday morning, the competition started at 8 a.m. with breed competitions. Judges picked the best dog from each breed, and those dogs moved on to the group competition.
There are seven groups: hound, working, terrier, sporting, nonsporting, toy and herding. The winner from each group goes on to the Best in Show competition.
The dogs aren’t necessarily competing against each other, Chinn said. They’re competing against the standard for their breed.
“How would you compare a Saint Bernard to a Chihuahua? You can’t,” Chinn said.
And on Sunday morning, the process starts all over again.