This weekend, some 5,000 show dogs will pad into Tradex, each with a small entourage in tow. Once these preening pooches have been washed, blow dried and primped to perfection, they will enter the ring, a handler displaying them at their jaunty best, each vying for the coveted Best in Show trophy.
It is the 25th anniversary of the Lower Mainland Dog Fanciers (LMDF) show, which was born at Cloverdale’s Agriplex, and outgrew various facilities before settling at Tradex. There it has grown into the largest dog show in the country for the past 11 years. It has been broadcast on TSN.
“We’ve worked hard at it,” said LMDF president Donna Cole, who said the club has used promotion, cash prizes, entertainment and partnerships with specialty dog clubs to keep the show growing.
For pure prestige, only the Purina National Dog Show in Toronto compares.
She said there are 12,000 to 15,000 people attending the show each day.
Dave and Annette Milburn of the Abbotsford kennell Mytuk Alaskan Malamutes have been in the dog show game for 20 years, and been to thousands of shows. But their hometown show is always a special one – this year in particular.
They got into it when a friend who judged dog shows told them their beautiful pet was handsome enough to show. They tried it, won a few trophies, and soon were hooked on a livelong passion. They have crisscrossed North America in their RV showing malamutes.
“It draws you in the better you do,” said Annette. “It’s still fun. Everyone becomes your friend, and soon it’s your social life.”
One of their dogs T’ko (pronounced “tee-ko”) is the top Alaskan Malamute in Canadian history. Judges have commented that if they were in the wilderness with a sled, and had one dog to pull them out, they would want it to be T’ko.
“He just exudes power, in such a graceful way,” said Annette.
This weekend they will be showing his pup, Sugar Ray, who has a chance to outdo his dad. Last year, his first show year, he was the top-ranked malamute in Canada, second among all dogs in the working group, and his point total was eighth among all breeds. Any top-ten finish is in all breeds is good, and Sugar Ray is well positioned to do even better this year.
For all their success, the Milburns have never had a best in show in Abbotsford.
“I would love to. Maybe this year,” said Annette. “Every dog breeder’s dream is to win at Tradex, and you want to win on the televised day.”
The public is invited, and there are booths offering pet-related products and services, a designated area where members of the public can meet breeders, and there is also entertainment each day. The show starts at 8 a.m. each day and runs until 5 p.m. Oct. 25-27, and 3 p.m. Oct. 28.