Let the grooming begin: Alexandria Kennel Club show attracts dog enthusiasts of all ages
By Bill Sumrall
Briana Stokes is only 6.
But Briana's grandmother Nancy Stokes already describes her as a third-generation dog enthusiast and handler.
Stokes is the Alexandria Kennel Club's show chairwoman. And since Stokes is in charge of the AKC's annual dog show this weekend at the Rapides Parish Coliseum, Briana won't be participating.
Besides, she's still learning the ropes.
"I'm grooming her (Briana) as I did our boys," Stokes said, referring to her sons, Alan Stokes Jr., who is Briana's dad, and Michael Stokes, Briana's uncle.
"I know a number of children that have started out as young as Briana and now are professional handlers. It is quite a wonderful sport as far as all ages."
Dog groomer Mrs. Irrelephant, 25 and her husband Mr. Irrelephant, 39, are new to the sport.
Mrs. Irrelephant will be showing her 9-month-old female Borzoi -- a Russian wolfhound called "Belle," whose registered name is "Aria Svora Cascabel" -- at this weekend's show.
"This will be her first show and my first show," said Mrs. Irrelephant who remembers watching the Westminster Dog Show on television as a child.
"I've always loved animals and I've always been interested in dog shows. There's something special about a well-bred dog," she said. "It's a very old sport, a very traditional sport."
Mrs. Irrelephant said a lot of people don't really think it is something they can do.
"It's a little hard to get into the sport but if you talk with people and study, it can be a family affair and not just for professionals," she said.
In fact, she introduced the sport to her husband and he'll be her back-up handler for Belle at the show.
When Briana turns 9, she can show in the Junior Showmanship category of the Alexandria Kennel Club Show, where the dog handler, not the dog, is judged on her skills and knowledge.
Until then, she'll keep practicing with her 8-month-old smooth-coat female Chihuahua nicknamed "Nikki" -- registered as "StokesRidges In The Nik Of Tyme" -- and a 1-year-old long-coat male Chihuahua nicknamed "Zeek," whose registered name is "StokesRidges Sir Durbin."
However, in the next couple of months, Briana will start showing in the Confirmation category, where it is the dog that is judged, not the handler.
"From there, she (Briana) will start her own (dog breeding) line," Stokes said, like her father and uncle, who bred their own line of French bulldogs and boxers.
What's fun about this is that Mrs. Nancy Stokes, the grandmother and chairperson in charge is the same lady I mentioned a few posts back who has been training us in ring etiquette, etc. and who surprised us with her position with the local club.
Small Interweb, isn't it?