The inside of commercial barn at the Prince William County Fairgrounds smelled like wet fur, dog shampoo, pizza and French fries Saturday at the 37th annual All Breed Dog Show sponsored by the Mattaponi Kennel Club of Manassas.
More than 1,700 entrants from across the country brought the champions and hopefuls to the one-day show many described as “intimate.”
Fox terrier breeder and handler Annebly Harwood said the show has a reputation as one of the best on the eastern seaboard.
“It’s one of the older dog shows, so you know it has a good reputation,” Harwood said as her little terrier bounced around her legs and begged attention of everyone who passed.
“There are a lot of top dogs and a lot of top handlers here,” Harwood of Virginia Beach said.
Professional dog handler Stacey Snyder brought 12 dogs, including a Pharaoh hound, a boxer and a whippet to the show for a number of breeders from Michigan.
Snyder, 23, says she visits a show somewhere in the country every weekend and has found that it’s best to travel at night in her van full of dog crates and grooming paraphernalia.
There are fewer pit stops at night when the dogs doze, said Snyder, who has been handling dogs since she was 8 years old.
Snyder said breeders send their dogs to the shows with her to gain exposure for their line.
James Victory got involved in the show dog circuit because a breeder wanted to make sure one of his clumber spaniels was seen and noticed. A clumber spaniel is a heavy bodied, short legged with thick, medium length fur.
Victory and his wife recently lost their Labrador retriever to cancer and decided to get one of the dogs that gained notoriety when the breed won Best of Show at the Westminster Dog Show several years ago.
“My wife always wanted to get a clumber, because she saw them on TV.” Victory, of Sterling, said.
Trouble was, there was a yearlong waiting list, he said.
The Victorys struck a deal with the breeders: They agreed to cart Gypsy around to shows until she won 15 dog show points and the title of champion.
Victory, a director of engineering for a semiconductor company, said he and Gypsy have been to about six shows, which are getting easier as they learn together.
“The first couple of shows were kind of tough. She didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know what to do,” Victory said as he and Gypsy waited for their turn.
Victory admitted to still being a little nervous at the prospect of trotting around the ring with Gypsy.
“If you’re not nervous, it’s not fun,” Victory said.
Sharyl Mayhew, of Haymarket, breeds and shows Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, a sturdy tricolor herding dog bred in the Alps.
Mayhew, a veterinary technician, said she thinks dog shows serve as good excuses to spend a lot of time with canine companions.
She said people might accuse someone of wasting time if they simply went to a park and sat around all day with a dog.
“You come out here with a thousand other people and it’s a hobby,” Mayhew, 39, said.