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Chicagoist at the 2011 IKC Dog Show (Part 1 of 2)

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 28, 2011 9:00PM

Story by Kimberly Bellware and Kevin Robinson

Last weekend, McCormick Place was an embarrassment of furry, wet-nosed riches with top dogs from all breeds coming to town for the annual International Kennel Club of Chicago dog show. The two day event is one of the largest in the country with more than 160 breeds represented, with the total number of dogs tallying more than 10,000. The family-friendly event was both competition (with dogs judged on how closely they conform to breed standards) and an expo of sorts: under one roof attendees could take in a round of judging, pick up dog-centric merchandise, see pet food demos and watch a dog and her handler "dance" to the Grease track "We Go Together."

Saturday and Sunday's show, the 150th by the IKC of Chicago, was an benched competition, meaning that the dogs are required to be on-site at their “benches” when they are not participating in competition. In benched shows, like Friday's Blackhawk Kennel Club show that preceded the IKC, dogs are allowed to leave after they compete. Benched competitions make it easy for attendees looking to chat with breeders, trade info on training and of course, pet the dogs.

When we visited the show on Sunday afternoon, half of the dogs were at their stations being groomed, with the other half somewhere in the rounds of judging that began at 8 a.m. earlier that day. Several owners explained that in unbenched shows, the dogs tend to tire out since they don't immediately go home after leaving the ring. Handlers can also feature a dog at a "Meet the Breed" booth when the dogs are unbenched, invariably exposing the dogs to more action. As such, there wasn't much playing going on between man and dog, but we got in more than enough ear scratching, petting and friendly chatter with the owners.

Dog show folks, as evidenced in Christopher Guest's unforgettable mockumentary "Best in Show" are colorful types. In Part Two, we'll point out a few stray observations, favorite moments and the few things we learned.