Hiro Nippa, a contestant at the International All Breed Canine Association's 2021 Desert Sieger International Dog Show held at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park earlier this month, sprays hairspray and fusses with his poodle Sakura’s hair. Even with 30 years of competing under his belt, this was certainly no cake walk to him.
“We’ve been getting ready for eight hours,” Nippa said. “Only the crazy ones do this.”
According to its website, the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA) was created with the intention of giving the American public the ability to have the International Championship Title for their dogs here in the states, rather than having to travel internationally to compete. Each dog entered in the competition is judged on how well the dog holds to the breed's standards, according to their country of origin and IABCA guidelines. Each dog is given a numerical rating and a written critique.
The reason for breeding goes beyond just being a dog lover.
“It's almost an art form, in that they’re a part of history. People used to use dogs to work and they worked side by side with them and it's really, just at this point, [the] preservation of something beautiful,” contestant Tabitha Lierley said.
Lierley showed her great dane, Zion, this weekend. Great danes have always had a special place in Lierley’s heart, and she plans to continue to share that love through competition and breeding.
“I’m a newbie, I’m still learning the ropes, but I’d like to breed myself someday, so [Zion] is kind of my starter dog to learn everything and see where it goes,” Lierley said.
Naddy Cato, a lifelong lover of golden retrievers, also had nothing but positive things to say about competing.
“It’s just something you can do with your dog to create a stronger bond with them,” Cato said. “The training that you do just helps them develop their physical condition as well as their mental capacity and it's just more rewarding between the two of you.”
Bonnie Peterson, another contestant, expanded on this bond.
“[There’s] a lot of trust involved,” Peterson said. “Real breeders aren’t just in it for the money.”
Peterson did not shy from the fact that this was an expensive and time consuming sport, and that victory involves a lot of work.
“It’s a lot of practice time and rings, practicing outside of my home, teaching him to stand still for the exam, and a lot of bathing and grooming,” Peterson said.
Despite all of that, Peterson went on to share how rewarding it is to experience that relationship blossoming. Her dog, a border collie named Johnny Cash, started off as an uncomfortable and nervous show dog, constantly looking to Peterson for reassurance. And after some time, he barely glances at Peterson, representing that he trusts her enough to be shown.
Not everyone takes it as seriously as contestants like Nippa and Peterson, however. Anysia Jamarillo participates casually with her border collie, Serenity.
“I’m not competitive with it, I just go to have fun. If we win cool, if we don’t, I’ll still sleep at night,” Jamarillo joked.
Jamarillo goes to show that at any show there are a diversity of contestants, but one thing rings true for all them: they are all passionate for their dogs.
As Jamarillo highlighted, in truth all that matters for any sport is that you are having fun. And the scene this month appeared to be exactly that. An event that not only spurred some fun competition, but also an opportunity to allow people to share their love for their animals.
“Not a lot of people understand the craziness that goes into this,” Cato said, “but at the end of the day, it's just you and your dog.”
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