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The Importance of a Match Show

There may be some of the more “mature” Kerry owners who remember Brian Lowney in the show ring with the Kerries he and his mother owned thirty years ago.

Although in his article below he talks about a specific match show, the article shares with you the many ways a match show is important. So whether you want just want to spend a day watching dogs, train your dog for competition or become an AKC judge, a match show may be the perfect option.

Brian now enjoys judging junior showmanship, sweepstakes and matches and writes for SouthCoast Today. He has given us permission to reprint his article below.

The article was first published in SouthCoast Today on April 28, 2013.

One of the highlights of exhibiting my dogs more than 30 years ago was attending match shows sponsored by kennel clubs throughout the New England states.

In fact, the first time I set foot in a ring was at the Elm City Kennel Club match held on the grounds of the former Bethany Airport, north of New Haven, Conn.

I exhibited my first dog, a Kerry blue terrier named Connolly of Castletown, and won a Best of Breed ribbon and a small ashtray with the club logo as my pup was the only one of its breed entered that day. While we placed last out of five in the terrier group, and didn’t win a rosette, I was hooked. That wonderful introduction to the sport of purebred dogs led to an avocation that has taken me to places that I’d once only dreamed of visiting, afforded me the privilege to make lifelong friends, and even helped me launch a career as a writer when I started writing for dog publications several years later.

Next Sunday, May 5, the Wampanoag Kennel Club will hold its annual American Kennel Club sanctioned all-breed and obedience match at Freetown State Forest in Freetown. The GPS address is 110 Slab Bridge Road, Assonet, Mass., 02702. The event will be held rain or shine. Admission is free; a food concession will be available and spectators should bring folding chairs.

Obedience judging starts at 10:30 a.m.; conformation judging begins at noon. Per AKC rules, dogs not entered in the exhibition are not allowed on the grounds.

According to Mattapoisett resident Jim Barrett, a respected breeder of Doberman pinschers and Chinese crested dogs, a match show gives an exhibitor an opportunity to practice before going to a real show. While ribbons and trophies are presented at matches, dogs cannot earn championship points or legs toward an obedience title.

Barrett, who coordinates Wampanoag’s conformation handling classes, adds that matches allow novice exhibitors to experience the judging process in a more informal and less stressful environment, while also affording seasoned exhibitors an opportunity to train as ring stewards to assist judges by handing out armbands, organizing entries, and arranging ribbons and trophies.

“Matches also give people who are aspiring to be judges a chance to judge,” he notes. Barrett’s wife Nancy is licensed to judge Dobermans, boxers and Samoyeds, and like all judges, began by officiating at matches.

Barrett says that these informal and fun-filled competitions provide an excellent venue to socialize dogs and allow canines to become comfortable around other dogs and different people of all ages. He adds that entry fees at matches are much less expensive than at conformation events, and that exhibitors can enter on the day of the match instead of preregistering several weeks in advance.

“It’s a great way to meet breeds and talk to breeders,” Barrett continues, adding that the informal environment allows spectators to interact with breeders who are eager to educate prospective owners and share their knowledge of a particular breed.

“It gives you a good idea of what the breeds are like at a young age,” he tells, noting that most match entries are puppies ranging in age from 3 to 12 months.

For judge Peter Viveiros of Tiverton, R.I., the match will provide an opportunity to gain knowledge of different breeds and examine a variety of handsome future hopefuls.

Viveiros, a longtime breeder and exhibitor of champion Ibizan hounds and bichon frises and owner of toy poodles, will judge the hound and toy groups at the match.

“It’s a good public service for the club to perform,” he tells, emphasizing that one of any kennel club’s primary goals is to educate the local community about responsible dog ownership and the many activities an owner can enjoy with his dog.

Viveiros adds that matches are learning experiences not only for individuals interested in judging but also for owners and their canine charges. Like Barrett, he adds that by practicing various procedures such as standing for examination, a dog will become acclimated to the ring and will be then ready to enter a point show.

One of the highlights of any match are the junior showmanship classes, which will be judged by Annie Henshaw of Mattapoisett, one of the region’s top-winning young handlers and an accomplished exhibitor of Chesapeake Bay retrievers, basset hounds and Cardigan Welsh corgis.

The talented exhibitor is carrying on a family tradition of presenting quality show dogs, and is ably following in the footsteps of her grandparents, Polly and the late George Henshaw.

The judging panel includes local obedience judges Colleen Brown of Swansea and Robin Botelho of Fairhaven, who recently was approved by the AKC to judge all Rally classes.

I will judge the sporting and terrier groups, two of my favorite groups, which are always filled with beautiful and enthusiastic future champions.

For more information about the Wampanoag Kennel Club match, call (508) 636-0190.



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