Dog show brings in large crowd

April 1, 2018

MITCHELL — Saturday’s second day of the Scottsbluff Kennel Club’s Dog Show at the Mitchell Events Center was another big success.

Show Chairman Tony Van Beek said this year’s turnout, like last year, has been impressive and he’s been seeing some new faces.

“Last year, we had 17 junior handlers at the show,” he said. “This year, there are 21 coming in from all parts of the country. It’s the juniors that are going to keep this program going. It’s been growing for the younger generations and that’s what we need to keep the sport alive.”

The Scottsbluff Kennel Club is doing its part by awarding scholarships. Last year, the club awarded a $500 scholarship for the Best Junior Handler. This year, the club is expanding that award, offering a $750 scholarship for the Best Junior Handler and a $500 scholarship for the Best Reserve Junior Handler.

Suzanne Lilja-Kingma, who handles publicity and many other tasks for the kennel club, said the scholarship awards are meant to encourage young people to get involved.

“These kids train under professional handlers and a lot of them go on to be professional handlers and learn the show circuit,” she said.

One of the show’s big draws was a new one — the Barn Hunt. The event is based on the traditional roles of many dog breeds in ridding farms, barns and crop storage areas and homes of destructive vermin.

It’s a safe event for the rodents as well, as they hide in aerated tubes hidden in a stack of baled hay. The dogs’ task is to search them out.

“The Barn Hunt has been a bit of a success, so we plan to make it an annual part of the dog show,” Van Beek said.

The Scottsbluff Kennel Club has about 60 members, but Van Beek said they could always have more.

“Ours is a dog-grow-dog world and we all need to work together,” he said.

As a part of working together, the club presented the Common Grounds Dog Park Committee with a $500 check to help with continuing construction of the Monument Dog Park in Gering.

Stacy Fisher is with the Common Grounds Dog Park Committee, which is building the Monument Dog Park.

“About a third of the dog park has been built,” Fisher said. “Two sections for smaller dogs are open now and shelters should arrive in mid-April. Parking lot gravel will go down once the lot dries out.”

Handicap accessible parking will also be installed soon and members will continue working on the fence. Lighting and security has been completed and water will be available once the weather warms up. The group hopes to have a grand opening in mid-June.

The mission of the Common Grounds Dog Park Committee is to work with other municipalities to build dog parks. They’ve presented a proposal to the City of Mitchell on a potential dog park for that community. After they put some research together, they plan to meet with the city council.