It's show time, area pooches! - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

It's show time, area pooches!

The Cotton Cluster Dog Show runs through Sunday at the Morgan County Celebration Arena. The Cotton Cluster Dog Show runs through Sunday at the Morgan County Celebration Arena.

There are no "barking orders" here, only gentle reminders about how to conduct yourself on a leash or lead.

Good doggie manners are important in the show ring. Owner/handler Susan Hines will tell you practice makes perfect for her Havanese.  

"We also have to keep them brushed, keep their coat in good shape, so that means a bath at least once a week. Keep their teeth clean. Keep their ears cleaned out. Lots more grooming and lots more practice," said Hines.

And what about those judges who put their hands all over the dogs while they evaluate them?

"We try to socialize them from birth, for that matter. The more we get them out, the better off it is for them and for us because then they are more apt to let folks come up," Hines explained.

They even have people act like a judge during competition, so the dogs will be acclimated.  "It's a matter of practice with whatever it is you put your dog through. And time. The time you have available to put into it," added Hines. 

She said the American Kennel Club has strict guidelines. "You have to be 6 months old to show and get points in an AKC show. Points toward your championship. Reese is going to be 6 months old in time for the Priceville show," she said.

These dogs are the Havanese breed, the national dog of Cuba. "Red color is a rarity in the United States," Hines said, adding that everything except the blue is accepted by AKC.

Some dogs literally "prance" around the ring - and the crowd loves it. "Some dogs are born show dogs...others are not. They take more training and some of those just never want to do it. It's like dancing with the stars to get them to walk. But if you get a dog in there that has a proper gait for their breed, they can really shine," said Hines. 

This weekend is a big one for dog competitors in North Alabama.  More than 1,200 dogs will compete for best of show title in Decatur. The competition goes from Nov. 7-10 at the Morgan County Celebration Arena.  Dogs ranging from 6 month old puppies to the more experienced show dogs will take part.

This notice was sent by the Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau:

The Cotton Cluster Dog Shows are considered one of the largest area dog shows licensed by the American Kennel Club. Last year, over 1,200 dogs from all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico entered and competed. Best in Show will be presented each day along with a new title to be awarded this year - Reserve Best in Show. The Sheltie Club of North Alabama and The Poodle Club of Alabama will have their Designated Specialty Shows as in previous years, and the Dachshund Club of Alabama will hold two concurrent shows. Several other breeds are supporting their breeds all four days.

Shows are held daily and spectators are welcome to attend. 

A dog show such as the Cotton Cluster provides the perfect opportunity to pick your next "best friend." Event organizers encourage anyone considering the purchase of a purebred dog to attend the Cotton Cluster Dog Shows and talk one-on-one with exhibitors about their breed. Admission is free. A parking fee of $5 will be charged daily. The Morgan County Celebration Arena is located at 67 Horse Center Road (off Highway 67 East) in Decatur.

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