It’s Thanksgiving week and along with the high school football fodder, family gatherings and parades with the man dressed in red as the guest of honor, there is one other tradition in the Philadelphia area that draws thousands every year.
This weekend the Kennel Club of Philadelphia hosted its 10th annual festival of the four legged as the National Dog Show took over the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
More than 3,000 of man’s best friends were in attendance to compete in breed, group and show categories with money, trophies ribbons and bragging rights up for grabs.
Thousands packed the Expo center over the two-day event, which will be televised on Thanksgiving Day on NBC, to get a glimpse of the best of the best in canine entertainers along with a bevy of pet services and vendors along with more chew toys than one can possibly imagine.
“We are so pleased to have such a great facility to hold this event in,” said KCP president Wayne Ferguson, who has been involved with breeding of dogs for 45 years. “The people of the Oaks and Phoenixville area have been outstanding and we have had such a great turnout. It has been a very exciting year for us and we look forward to this show airing on Thanksgiving Day.”
More than 170 breeds were involved as all seven groups of dogs—working, sporting, herding, toy, terrier, non-sporting and hounds—were represented and judged by breed first before moving on to face the outstanding dogs of their group with a date in the best of show finale at stake.
This year the American Kennel Club introduced and recognizes six new breeds—American English Coonhound, Cesky Terrier, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Finnish Lapphund, Norwegian Lundehund and the Xoloitzcuintli—which competed for the first time in the National Show.
This year’s guest of honor and ambassador of the show was a Belgian Sheepdog named Eli, who competed 10 years ago in the National Dog Show before being one of the many dogs that brought comfort and help to the families of the 911 attack victims by being a therapy dog.
The dog show is about more than just the fun and pleasure of seeing the finest in the country, said Miss SPCA Emily Concepcion from Bensalem, who raised more than $4,000 for charity and will be eligible to participate in next year’s Miss America Pageant.
“I love dressing up and feeling pretty, being part of pageants and getting to be involved with the Miss America is amazing but I am so glad to be able to raise so much money to help other people," she said.
Another youngster from California is carrying on her family legacy as she won the top junior handler award with her Briard named Cagne, whom she had trained since he was puppy. Casey Klaang has been training dogs and took a liking to one of the family dogs when she was 5 years old.
“This is amazing, oh my God,” said the 12-year old Klaang. “I was so antsy back stage, but I had to stay calm for him. I love coming to this area. We used to compete in Harrisburg and now to come here and win this is a dream come true. They told me that we could not show this breed, but it’s what we have at home and he (Cagne) did a great job.”
Coverage of the National Show, featuring John Hurley, Mary Carillo and David Frei can be seen locally on NBC on Thanksgiving Day.