AKC Show dogs weather the elements

Friday's show brought out 2,452 dogs.
CANFIELD -- The Steel Valley Cluster Dog Show competed against intense heat Thursday and morning rain Friday, but still attracted dog thousands of dog owners from across the nation.
However, Harry Fox, a coordinator for the show, said that high gas prices and temperatures kept some of the dog owners at home.
Coordinators had expected about a number closer to about 3,000 dogs entered each day. On Thursday, 2,135 dogs representing 142 breeds were shown, and 2,452 dogs from 165 breeds were shown Friday.
"So far all of the dogs have been okay," said Gordon Chambers, Steel Valley Cluster chairman. "People here really know how to take care of their dogs."
He noted that the show coordinators made accommodations for dogs with heavy coats, such as Alaskan Huskies and St. Bernards. Their breeds were shown early in the morning to avoid the hot summer sun.
"So far we've been very, very lucky," said veterinarian Dr. R.F. Nokes, DVM from Family Pet Center @ All Creatures in Warren. "But the owners know how to keep their pets cool."
A veterinarian will be at the fairgrounds the entire duration of the dog show to handle any health issues that may arise in the dogs.
Nokes said that his practice has seen several cases of heat related injuries and illnesses everyday for the last three weeks, which he said was a definite increase.
Taking care of pets
Coordinators are paying special attention to how dogs are treated outside of the ring, they said.
"You'd be surprised. We take better care of our pets than ourselves," said dog owner Mari Anne Melucci from Stanford, Conn. "We make sure that they are okay before we even think of ourselves."
Dogs are being kept in the shade, under reflective blankets and are given plenty of fresh, clean water. Dogs are kept off blacktop areas that tend to be warmer and are carried by owners.
"Heat affects a dog's performance, but not its temperament," said judge Madeline Fish, from Connecticut. "There's a little less sparkle, pizzazz and showmanship."
"We are well set-up here with plenty of water, ice, baths, everything we'd need," Nokes said. "Most owners and handlers here are very aware of their dogs."
Keeping cool
Elevated plastic bath tubs are set-up with cool water around the fairgrounds.
The Steel Valley Cluster Dog Show includes over 100 vendors. Several of which have products designed to keep pets comfortable, including frozen dog treats. Many of the show dogs wore cooling vests that included a gel that may be frozen.
"Dogs are like people, you'd be surprised. Some enjoy the hot weather," judge Fish said. "We just try and smile because judging dogs is fun."
The Steel Valley Cluster consists of the Mahoning-Shenango Kennel Club, Beaver County Kennel Club, Columbiana County Kennel Club and Fort Steuben Kennel Association.
The Miami Valley Gordon Setter Club will have an all-breed eye-clinic, cardiac clinic, AKC DNA testing and microchip clinic today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Steel Valley Cluster dog show will be open today and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spectator admission is $3 a vehicle.

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