Best In Show 900 dogs to compete in Charleston Kennel Club event

Silvershadow’s Secretariat Elessar “Big Red,” a Saluki, was crowned Best In Show at the 2014 Charleston Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show. Pictured (from left) are: judge Debra Thornton, owner-handler Bill Flynn and Charleston Kennel Club president Brenda Naylor. Provided.

Chances are that sometime while channel surfing you’ve happened across a broadcast of the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. If that event caught your attention, then you may want to pay a visit Saturday and Sunday to Exchange Park in Ladson for the Charleston Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show.

The dogs competing in Westminster had to get their start earning points somewhere, and more than 900 registered dogs will be competing each day at Exchange Park for the coveted Best In Show Award. Each day is a standalone competition.

“As an exhibitor, it allows me to earn championship (or ranking) points for my dog,” said Charleston Kennel Club member Terri Hallman, who will be showing springer spaniels. Earning championship rankings, she said, can result in an invitation to the Eukanuba show in Orlando or perhaps Westminster, two of the biggest events in the dog show world.

The main event for the Charleston Kennel Club show is conformation, with judges trying to determine which dog best conforms to the standards of that particular breed. The dogs are paraded around the ring at the judge’s command, offering the judge the opportunity to see the dog from different vantage points and watch the dog’s stride and speed.

More than 100 breeds are recognized, with dogs competing for best of their breed. After that judging takes place, the winners from the various breeds compete in one of seven categories — Sporting, Hounds, Working, Herding, Toy, Terrier and Non-sporting. The winners from those categories then compete for the top award — Best In Show.

Hallman said there also are obedience (dogs responding to commands) and rallying (dogs must complete a course) competitions.

“We got involved about 25 years ago,” Hallman said. “My husband wanted a dog and I never wanted one. I figured if he got a dog it would be a big dog and I didn’t want a big dog. I surprised him with a puppy, a springer spaniel. We have four now and have had as many as five. They don’t all turn out to be show dogs, but they could be.”