LIMA — Jennifer Stotts of Frazeysburg, Ohio, has been involved in showing dogs for quite a while.
Her Labrador Retriever, Shannon Saltwater Taffy, is a Grand Champion. At 7 1/2 years old, the dog is considered a veteran by AKC standards.
Stotts was one of several dozen dog owners to participate Saturday in the Labrador Retriever Specialty Dog Show at the Lima Kennel Club show grounds, 1050 Thayer Rd., Lima.
The show itself is organized by The Miami Valley Labrador Retriever Club.
Stotts got into showing dogs quite by accident.
“I actually got a Labrador from the animal shelter in 1989 and he was out of control,” Stotts said. “I took obedience lessons, started doing obedience competition with him and then I saw this other ring. The conformation ring — started watching it — got interested and the rest is history.”
Before COVID hit, she was attending around 30 shows a year on the weekends and she’s been to the top.
“I have been to Westminster. My dog actually won the breed at Westminster in 2002,” Stotts said.
Jill DiGesare, from Eden, New York, brought two dogs to Lima on Saturday, a young male called Vito and the other Antoinette.
Vito won the Bred by Black class and Antoinette won Best of Opposite Sex in the breed.
DiGesare got into showing dogs after owning a Great Dane that wasn’t the most well-behaved dog.
“She would just tear everything up and so we did obedience. I figured out Great Danes are not great obedience dogs. So that got me to the Labrador to compete in obedience, and I did that for several years. Then I switched over to this type of conformation show,” DiGesare said.
Gail Shearer, president of the Miami Valley Labrador Retriever Club, says the annual show provides a chance for owners to accrue points in their AKC championship but it’s also a social thing, too.
“We have a really great time because we’re all friends and we just hang out. This is a great show site because we can bring our campers and it’s just a whole lot more fun being able to socialize, especially now that we can get out,” Shearer said.
Stotts agrees that the event is low-key, just like their dogs.
“The people are like their dogs — they’re all very congenial and friendly, and support each other. We’re as much here for enjoying each other and the company after a year of COVID, as we are for the dog show,” Stotts said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.