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Top dogs strut their stuff at pet festival.

Dubai: More than 200 show dogs scampered around the grass expanse and manoeuvred through obstacle courses at Rugby park in Dubai Sports City as part of Dubai Pet Festival's first international dog show in Dubai.

More than 10,000 people took in the first day of the festival where dogs wore colour-coded badges, indicating their level of friendliness.

Dubai Police were also part of the event showing off their K-9 unit to festival visitors.

"We have been holding the pet festival for the last three years, which included a mini-dog show. But they were not up to international standards," Sheer Nair, CEO of the Pet Festival, said.

"This year we brought professional judges and are following those standards. Hopefully one or two shows later we will be approved by the World Canine Organization (FCI)."

Nair said that dogs were assigned to one of several categories, depending on their breed, size and training.

"For example, there are categories for gun dogs, hunting dogs, and terriers," he said, "We refer to the listing set by the FCI and assign the dog to its respective category. Our two judges then decide who takes home prizes for best dog, best bitch, best puppy or best veteran, which are dogs above seven years of age. Finally, there is a prize for best in show in each category."

FCI-accredited dog show judge Ozan Belkis, from Turkey, said he has been judging international dog shows for over a decade.

"I've been fascinated with dogs since I was a young boy. My first dog was a great dane," he said.

Belkis said that dog shows helped owners find a suitable partner for their pet to breed with.

"It is quite difficult to find an appropriate partner for your dog," he said, "this is not something one does just for money, it is a serious hobby. One should spend time assessing whether two dogs are ideal to breed."

When asked if the dog show was up to the international standards, Belkis said that "since this is the first time a proper dog show has been conducted here, we've had a few glitches. However, there is a dedicated team organizing the show and future shows are sure to be much better and meet the mark."

Judge Michele Dunn, a Scottish-national residing in Abu Dhabi, said that both organizers and participants were learning from the country's first dog show.

"We've had to overcome quite a few complications since we started," she said, "but this was foreseeable. A necessary learning experience."

Dunn said that it takes a lot of research, observation and experience to become a dog show judge.

"I've been living around dogs since I was a child, learning to train them with my father. After some years of learning about them, it becomes second nature to spot the nuances of posture and physical attributes between dogs. Take that Labrador over there," she said, pointing at a large black Labrador gamboling around its owner, "it's evident that he's a mixed breed and has had minimal training."

Dunn said that the primary purpose of a dog show was to introduce dogs with their ideal breeding partners.

"It is to avoid health problems in puppies," she said, "for instance if you breed a Labrador and a poodle, you're going to end up with a puppy with a lot hip problems. Dog shows like this educate dog owners, teaching them more about breeding and taking care of their pets."

Patricia Sainsbury from the UK brought Jack, her Husky, to try his luck at the competition.

"My daughter saved Jack when he was just three months old," she said. She brought him home and it was love at first sight. Although he's not the most trained dog in the show, I'd still like to have him compete. Just for fun."

Some dog-owners had brought their pets just to socialise.

"This is Simba," Reschma Mansukhani said, petting a great blonde Labrador. "We brought him here so he can play with the other dogs. It's a very enjoyable event, where dog lovers can meet each other while their pets enjoy the open air."

At the far end of the venue, a pavilion was set up for a cat show, where, for obvious reasons, dogs were not permitted to enter.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 8, 2014
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