This year’s show — actually two shows split over two days — marks the 109th and 110th turns of the event. The competitions will feature more than 1,500 dogs of more than 100 breeds at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29.
The show has received the prestigious 100-year-plus award from the American Kennel Club and has long been acknowledged as the “Bay Area family show.”
Each day, judges will award ribbons for best in show and feature numerous special events, including a dog fashion show Saturday afternoon and a variety of canine-related vendors. The highlight of the show for many onlookers is the opportunity to meet the dog owners and their charges for a one-on-one chance to learn more about the different breeds.
“I always enjoy that show,” said Mary McHenry, who plans to show her two Cavalier King Charles spaniels — 7-year-old Billy and 11-month-old Trudy — in the Toy Breed category.
“I enjoy talking to the public, talking to the public about the breed,” she said. “To me, it’s more answering questions. I love showing the dogs. Golden Gate is more breed pride and a social experience.”
McHenry said Billy, a champion in his class, has been on the dog show circuit since he was 6 months old. She said he will compete this weekend in the veteran dog category, for dogs 7 and older.
Her other entry, she said, has less show experience, but by going to the show, the pair will be able to educate the public about the distinctive breed.
She said most people ask her the dogs’ names and ages, but the real fun is in the competition.
“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s a big show, different from a lot of shows. Stay there (all day) and talk to people.”
Although some owners have other people show their dogs, McHenry said she does the job herself. When asked what she enjoys about the sport, she laughingly said, “I mostly like winning. I like showing off your dogs and being proud of your dogs.”
Also competing at this weekend’s show from Tracy will be 3-year-old Portuguese water dog Koa, owned by Kris Thompson and Rebecca Morin. Koa will show in the Working Class category.
The popularity of the breed is gaining momentum now that there’s a water dog in the White House, Koa’s owners said, and the Bay Area show provides people looking for a new pet with the chance to learn more about them.
Thompson said Portuguese water dogs tend to be outgoing, athletic and, as their name would imply, lovers of water.
Thompson said Koa needs only four more points to be confirmed, which would move him that much closer to becoming a champion. Once that is accomplished, she said, she plans to breed him to create a line of future dog show competitors.
“It’s a really nice show to go to. Great for kids,” Thompson said, noting that she belongs to a very close group of owners.
She said the owners enjoy socializing with one another, even when their dogs are not competing.
“The dogs eat up the attention, and I enjoy educating the public.”
Although 2011 was her first year at the Golden Gate show, Thompson said her dog partner and breeder, Morin, has shown their dogs in San Francisco several times. She said it’s considered a lot of work, but enjoyable. People travel from across the country to compete, she added.
Another Tracy dog originally scheduled to compete at the show is 2-year-old Riley, a champion boxer owned by Jerry and Lynda Yon with partners Bob and Debbie White. He’s since been pulled from the competition, though.
Lynda White said Riley was the No. 4 boxer in the country in 2011 and most recently won a merit award at a show in Palm Springs. His owners got together and decided to pull him from the Golden Gate competition due to an anticipated judging issue, White said.
At a glance
• WHAT: Golden Gate Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show
• WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
• WHERE: Cow Palace, San Francisco
• COST: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for children; $30 for two-day family plan (two adults, two children)
• INFO: 415-404-4111