Have you ever wanted to show off your mutt in a dog show? You could this summer | SteamboatToday.com

Have you ever wanted to show off your mutt in a dog show? You could this summer

Lynne Miller, left, and Donna Segale, right, scour the grass of Rita Valentine Dog Park during the Steamboat Digs Dogs Community Cleanup on Saturday, May 14. Steamboat Digs Dogs is in the early stages of creating a mutt dog show, which could debut next summer.
Spencer Powell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Dogs are a big part of Steamboat Springs, and the community-wide love of canines might find a new level next year as Steamboat Digs Dogs and its partners are envisioning a dog show next summer.

“We really are,” said Steamboat Digs Dogs President Kathy Connell. “We’re just now starting on it. We have a lot of work to do getting sponsors and everything.”

Connell said the dog show would likely happen in June or July and she wants it to become an annual tradition, saying that she sees the first event as a way to officially introduce the improvements the organization has made at the Rita Valentine Dog Park including a shade structure, improved trails and the upcoming dog agility course she expects to be installed in the spring.

But there would be a local twist to this dog show, Connell said, as only mixed-breed dogs, which are recognized as “all-American Dogs” by the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, would be allowed to compete.

“Many of us have mixed breeds and rescue dogs,” said Connell, who added that she likes the idea of featuring stories of the rescue dogs that compete in the dog show when marketing the event.

“You know, some of the rescue stories are pretty phenomenal,” Connell said.

While the American Kennel Club has historically snubbed mixed-breed dogs, it has allowed them to compete in the rally, obedience and agility competitions in recent years, but competitions for “Best In Show” — the most prestigious of dog titles — are still based on conformation, or how closely a dog adheres to the standards of its respective breed.

Connell said they would likely group the dogs by classes similar to the American Kennell Club standards, with groups such as “toy” and “sporting,” but she admitted that could be tricky with mixed-breed dogs participating.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to sort through,” Connell said. “We could have an I-don’t-know-who-you-are class.”

Connell said she’s looking for qualified judges for the competition. She wants at least one professional dog show judge, but also says local veterinarians would be ideal candidates.

Dogs wouldn’t just be judged by appearance either. Connell said the dogs would be graded on their manners, and there could also be a competition involving the new agility course at Rita Valentine.

She believes the competition will be a great fundraising opportunity not just for her group but for other organizations as well.  

She said she’s looking for help, either through sponsors or volunteers, to help make the dog show a reality, and doesn’t want the event to just be about Steamboat Digs Dogs, saying she wants the Routt County Human Society included as well as local veterinarians and animal control officers.

Connell and her group will have their first meeting in January to discuss the dog show and said she’s still thinking of a good name for the show.

“The name’s gonna be classy, too,” Connell said. “We need to come up with a fun name: the Steamboat Mutt Dog Show or whatever. We’re working on that.”

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