The Kern County Fairgrounds have gone to the dogs this weekend.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors participated in the United Kennel Club’s California Classic Jan. 12-14. The dogs and their handlers are evaluated in categories such as conformation, weight pull, obedience and more, with performances organized according to breed.
Modesto resident Celine Tews brought her 5-year-old Siberian husky Dude to the show. Tews said he’s just the latest in a line of huskies that she has brought to shows like this across the country for more than 20 years.
“I’d always wanted one as a kid. They’re beautiful dogs,” she said. “I was coming home from work one day and there was one there at the house. I found out my husband and kids had bought one and brought it home. It all started from there.”
Tews said she now has eight dogs at home, all huskies. She said working with the dogs helps keep her and her husband active.
“They help me be a little bit more mobile,” she said. “They keep us going, get us up in the morning.”
Tews currently works at an alternative education high school in Modesto and has also worked with special education children in the past. She said she would sometimes take one of her dogs to interact with students.
“They love getting to hang out with them and give them pets,” she said.
Tews said it’s not all fun and games, however. She trains the dogs from a young age, making sure they’re socialized and obedient. While she said it can be hard work at times, she enjoys doing it and being able to participate in dog shows.
“You get to go to different places and meet different people,” she said. “It’s like a whole other family.”
Fresno resident Tomara Twigg is showing golden retrievers at the event. Twigg said she has been showing dogs since she first did it through her 4-H club when she was around 9 years old.
“It’s my passion. Animals have always been my thing,” she said. “I love the interaction.”
Twigg said training the dogs and cleaning up after them can be a mighty feat. It’s also a lot of work for the dogs.
At one point on Saturday, two of the golden retrievers were taking a nap together, side by side. One of them put their right paw over the other’s neck. It was an adorable sight that brought several people by to take pictures.
Although training for dog shows can be tiring for people and pooches, Twigg said she believes that it’s all worth it in the end.
“When you love doing it, it’s not really work,” she said. “This is the easy part, the grooming and the showing.”
Twigg said one of the biggest challenges is that every dog is different and has different needs.
“Dogs are like people. Every single one is a different personality. Each dog is its own individual,” she said.
Sylvia Chapoulaud, a France native who currently lives in Pasadena, brought her 9-month-old Dutch shepherd Fifi to the California Classic, her first time visiting Bakersfield. Chapoulaud has four dogs at home, all Dutch shepherds.
“They’re kind of a rare breed in California. They’re not very popular here,” she said.
Chapoulaud said she’s a bit of a novice when it comes to dog shows, as she has only shown Fifi so far. She said she hopes that the shows will help add to her puppy’s development.
“It’s such a great way for a dog to be more social, more exposed, to be better with their behavior,” she said.
Chapoulaud said what participating in the dog show circuit really comes down to though is strengthening the bond between the dog and its owner, as well as testing it.
“We’re a team. She has to trust me, I have to trust her,” she said. “You have to respect your dog and be very calm. It’s a relationship, and like any relationship, they take a lot of time and work.”