Connie Richardson doesn’t have to play cards to feel the thrill of a winning hand.
That’s because she gets the same feeling when any of the boxers or Boston terriers she shows wins. For the past 11 years, she has traveled across the country pursuing her hobby because she loves it.
“It is very addicting,” the Gilmer resident said. “It is kind of like gambling because it is an amazing feeling. People think it is easy, but it is not easy.”
Canine starlets such as Richardson’s dogs will be groomed to the nines for the upcoming 2019 AKC Licensed All Breed Dog Shows on July 27 and 28 at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.
This is the Longview Kennel Club’s 62nd show. The Tyler Obedience Training Club will conduct All-Breed Obedience Trials on both days next door to Maude Cobb at the Longview Exhibit Building. Spectator admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children younger than 12.
Richardson said showing dogs is a lot like the 2000 comedy “Best in Show,” because things can get quite comical behind the curtains.
“They say it takes a crazy person to be a dog person, and I kind of agree with that because we are crazy about our dogs and that is pretty much how it is,” she said. “It is a lot of hard work, don’t get me wrong, but it is also very comical too. Going to a dog show is like moving an entire house every three or four days and then tearing it down again.”
Richardson travels with professional handler Tina Starr and says her relationship with dogs has led her to make some of the best friends she has, including Starr. Her boxer is known as Champion Envision Who’s Cheap Talkin’ Now, but in the ring he goes by “Rick,” from the beloved hero on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Her Boston terrier who is still on the way to becoming a champion is known as Encore’s Pillow Talk, but is called Corrie when her owner needs to get her attention.
Nancy Mellott, chairwoman of Longview’s upcoming show, said she is second generation to the dog show as her father raised, hunted and showed beagles. Her first show dog was a Saint Bernard and she won in group.
“If I wasn’t hooked already I was then,” she said.
She said the upcoming dog show is rooted in a formal dog show that started in Longview in 1957.
“Back then the women wore hats and gloves and dresses,” she said, and the men wore suits. “They served wine and cheese and crackers and all that.”
Something community members might want to consider is bringing their own dog to the show, Mellott said. Around lunchtime dog handlers will demonstrate how to show a dog in a professional show.
“We’ve got to get people involved so we can continue this hobby,” Mellott said. “Most people talk about spaying and neutering, but these purposely bred dogs are a hobby and we do love our dogs and most breeds have a purpose behind them. We prefer dogs purposely bred.”
Dogs compete in seven categories before the best of show category — the final category — is presented. The categories are toy, sporting, herding, nonsporting, working and hound.
At the conformation shows in Longview, up to 190 AKC recognized breeds can compete to be named the dog that most closely matches the standard for each breed exhibited. In 2016, the Longview Kennel Club had 125 breeds entered with more than 700 dogs competing, according to the Longview Kennel Club website. In 2018, the Longview Kennel Club had 231 dogs competing. At the obedience trials, activities will range from basic obedience to the more advanced classes that involve retrieving scented objects and performing jumps.
Mellott said the show also is perfect for the dog lover who needs to find little extras for their pets, such as dog beds, chewies, jewelry, and shampoo and conditioner. Vendors will be set up at the show for pet lovers to shop for their furry friends.