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LOCKE — Heather Gould believes dog shows are showcases for the art and science of genetics.

Gould, at an all-breed match dog show in Locke Saturday with her miniature American shepherd, Gadget, said she has been breeding dogs since 1989 and began entering competitions a decade later. 

"When (dogs) are well put together, their movement is poetry in motion, their structure is just amazing to look at," Gould said. "I like dogs that take my breath away, and I think art should do that."

Plenty of four-legged canvases for that art and science could be seen at the show, hosted by the Finger Lakes Kennel Club. Debi Howe, co-chair for the competition, said that around 40 people entered their dogs for the event, held at the grounds for the Locke Fire Station. Judges examine factors such as a dog's coat, its teeth, and how well it follows commands, Howe said. Howe said the show is "like a practice run" for contestants before they go out to more formal competitive events.

One of the many contests held Saturday was for puppies three to six months old, in which Madison Ploof and her German pinscher, Sheldon, entered the ring. Ploof, moving slightly ahead as Sheldon followed from one side of the ring to the other. Once the duo made it the other side, Ploof said, "It's OK," and got down to eye level with her companion, hugging Sheldon and kissing his head.

Before that showing, show newcomer Beth Plocharczyk brushed the coat of her Finnish spitz, Gull, as the puppy's head darted around the room, occasionally releasing a bark while moving around his owner. At one point, Gull laid on the floor when Plocharczyk prepared to give the dog some bits of chicken.

Plocharczyk said the bog's breeder mentioned they hoped Gull would compete, so she decided to give dog shows a shot. She said she had done a little research into shows beforehand but generally was just having a good time with her "best friend" Gull. In the showing for puppies, Gull stayed silent but moved around while Plocharczyk used her leash to stop the dog from getting too far. Gull earned a fourth-place ribbon. Plocharczyk said that while shows are new terrain for her, she still felt she did well.

Henry and Kathy Clark came to play with their Great Danes, Gracie and Cleo. While Henry took Cleo, who is two months old, up into a competition for younger pups. Kathy said she and Henry have been going to shows for a few months, taking the dogs to obedience classes and handling classes twice a week.

Henry and Cleo came back to Kathy with a pink first-place ribbon. Kathy darted the first-time show dog's face with kisses. Kathy said training and shows allows the humans and animals alike to learn.

"It's not just just about training the dogs, it's about training the person to train the dog," Kathy Clark said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.


Education Reporter