Dogs put best paws forward at Happy Valley Cluster Dog Show

Abby, a 2-year-old Vizsla, won best of breed Thursday at the Happy Valley Cluster Dog Show at the Grange Fairgrounds.

But she didn’t do it alone.

Owner and breeder Diane Shearer, of Enola, said she has 30 years of breeding experience and eight generations of winning dogs behind her.

“It takes a lot of training,” Shearer said. “It’s not something where you pick a dog and enter in these shows. She’s the eighth or so generation of winners.”

Show Chairman Fran Calverase said the dog show at the fairgrounds has been going on for about 70 years.

This year, it was hosted in collaboration with the Chambersburg Area Kennel Club and the Nita-Nee Kennel Club with more than 130 breeds and 697 dogs registered in the show that started Thursday and lasts until Sunday to support the American Kennel Club dog shows and competitions.

“The mission is to improve the quality of each breed and showcase them,” Calverase said as he explained that each dog is registered in one of seven groups in four categories.

The groups of dogs include working group, toy group, hound group, sporting group, herding group, non-sporting group and terrier group, while the categories within the groups are based on age.

“The dogs are exhibited by a handler and compete against a very specific standard,” Calverase said.

People from around the world were in attendance Friday, and that included Ernesto Lara, of Mexico, whose terrier “Joey” recently won in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

“It takes time, patience and expertise,” Lara said as he was shuffling another dog, a Scottish terrier, off to an event.

And for experienced owners and breeders like Lara and Shearer, nearly every weekend is an adventure.

“We’ve been in too many to count,” Shearer said laughing about the number of dog shows entered, but she estimated that she registers her V izslas in about a dozen shows annually in the region. “We do a lot of traveling on the weekends.”

The next step for Abby she said is to find her a boyfriend and raise her babies to be show dogs.

Shearer said for anyone wanting to be a part of dog shows like this, she suggests taking a lot of time and research into selecting a dog to own and breed before anything else.

The Happy Valley Cluster Dog Show will continue this weekend starting 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on the south side of the fairgrounds, open to the public for viewing only.