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RECREATION : Fido Has His Day : Burbank Kennel Club's second show will be held Sunday. It is expected to include more than 100 different breeds and attract thousands of spectators.

March 12, 1993|ELAINE WALDORF GEWIRTZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz is a Westlake Village free-lance writer.

Think about asking 1,600 of your closest canine companions to drop by on a Sunday and put on a dog show.

All bark back that they're coming and beg to bring along a human to hold their leash. And they'll want 3,000 men, women and children to ooh and aah as they strut their stuff, vying for blue ribbons.

The Burbank Kennel Club is holding its second American Kennel Club licensed All Breed Dog Show and Obedience Trial from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys. The show is only for dogs formally entered three weeks in advance; dogs not competing will not be admitted. Neither Burbank Kennel Club members nor their families will be permitted to show dogs at the event.

The Burbank event is already considered prestigious in dog show circles, largely because the organizers have paid attention to small amenities that make showing fun and competitive. They have selected a location that provides shade for the dogs, there is convenient parking, the grounds are well-manicured, and the event attracts well-known judges. The club's next show, scheduled for September, is to be broadcast on ESPN.

Board member Shelley Cafferty said the club's first show "was such a howling success that it has been nominated for Best Dog Show of the Year" by Kennel Review Magazine. Although results of balloting for the title will not be announced until March 20, Cafferty added that the designation "is rarely given for a club's debut event as hundreds of clubs compete throughout the country for this distinction."

Unlike other dog shows, Burbank's will have a theme: movies, with a black and white scheme. Larger-than-life cutouts of screen stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable will tower over exhibit rings, and Kennel Club officials and judges will wear those colors. Big winners will receive black-and-white directors' chairs and have their pictures taken with a 6-foot-high Oscar replica.

Members of the club will be available to spectators who find themselves stumped by the goings-on. "Our members answer questions and provide information about the different breeds," says club member Jim Stamper.

The organizers also have considered more behind-the-scenes matters: "We keep the grounds clean by giving out plastic bags and asking people to pick up after themselves and their dogs," says club member Doug Toomey, who along with his wife, Ann, is in charge of exhibitor hospitality. "No one likes a messy plot," added Ann.

"I knew this was a classy show when I found floral arrangements in the porta-potties," says American Kennel Club judge Dany Canino.

Although Burbank Kennel Club has been in existence since 1966, it had never sponsored a show before the September, 1992, event.

When President Thomas Mayfield and his wife, Marilyn, first joined in 1986, they hoped the club would become a premier organization dedicated to the welfare of dogs, and the sport of purebred dog showing. They have played leading roles in organizing the Burbank shows, and inspiring members to work toward continually producing a quality event.

"Dog shows are a wonderful family activity," says Marilyn Mayfield, secretary of the Burbank club and an Old English sheep dog owner. "Children can learn about good sportsmanship and how to show their pets. Or if you're thinking about buying a puppy, a show is a good place to talk to breeders and learn about the dogs, since more than 100 different breeds will be exhibiting."

Spectators should be prepared to weave through busy handlers shuttling their dogs into or out of competition rings. And they should expect many breeds of dogs to be shown: the furrowed Chinese Shar-Peis, bulldogs, perhaps a friendly golden retriever and certainly a regal chow chow or two.

Posted near the entrance will be a schedule of what times each breed will be judged. Competitors who miss their appointed time will not be allowed in later.

Dog shows are basically obedience and conformation competitions, which can lead to American Kennel Club-awarded Companion Dog or Champion titles. These designations are prestigious to owners and breeders and require hours of practice to obtain.

Obedience dogs must perform certain tasks to earn a degree.

"I work my girls several times a week," says Joan Dydee of the two cocker spaniels she's training. "Sparkle has to fetch a dumbbell, leap over a short hurdle and remain in a down position for five minutes while I'm out of sight to earn her Companion Dog Excellent degree. The retrieving and jumping is great, but the laying down is pretty iffy."

To become a champion, a dog must come as close as possible to a list of attributes defined by the breed's national club. These traits may be eye color, coat quality, temperament and the way the animal moves. Only one judge per show makes the decision. At another show, under a different judge, the winners could be entirely different.

Should spectators get confused by all the details, on Sunday they can take an intermission in the vendors area. There they will find for sale virtually every doggy item imaginable, from shampoo for tough-to-manage fur to pooper-scoopers in all sizes.


* What: The Burbank Kennel Club second All Breed Dog Show and Obedience Trial.

* Location: Los Angeles Valley College, 5800 Fulton Ave., Van Nuys.

* Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

* Price: Free but parking is $5.

* Restrictions: Dogs not formally entered are not permitted.

* Call: (818) 768-2146.

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