‘It’s a doggy-dog world’

David Yu Santos
A peek into a dog show and those behind it

MANILA, Philippines – European expatriate and housewife Sandra Rublee speaks fondly of her 3-year old Irish Setter, Nike, describing her almost like a human being. After all, she says, dogs are not man’s best friend for nothing.

Nike is just one of Mrs Rublee’s two purebred canine that her family brings along even during foreign trips, since her husband works for the Asian Development Bank. Before coming to the Philippines, Nike stayed with the Rublees in the United States.

“We got Nike in Australia when she was just 12 weeks old. She comes from a very good lineage since her father is big champion (of dog shows) in England,” Rublee said.

European expatriate Sandra Rublee shows off "Nike," a 3-year-old Irish Setter her family got from Australia.

Just like typical Irish Setters, Nike gets along well with children, other dogs, and eagerly greets visitors in their home in a Makati subdivision.

Named after the Greek mythology’s god of victory, Mrs Rublee characterized the 57-pound Setter as “full of energy, very loving and even humorous.”

“Nike would reach out her paws when I am talking to someone and loves to sit on my lap like a spoiled princess,” Rublee added. “She is very affectionate.”

Professional handlers cuddle their dogs as a way to warm them up for the competition.

South Korean judge Choi Moonjeong thoroughly inspects one of the dog participants.

Canine ‘beauty contest’

Nike is just one of the 136 canines that participated in an “All Breed Dog Show” held at a Pasig City shopping complex on Sunday, March 25, and organized by the Asian Kennel Union Club of the Philippines, Incorporated (Akcupi).

The dogs were divided into different categories or group classifications following international standards for dog shows: sporting, hounds, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding.

“This is a conformation competition,” Bernie Montiero of Akcupi explained. “It is like a beauty contest for dogs.”

There are no monetary awards. Instead, colored ribbons and trophies are handed out. What matter in dog shows is the honor gained both by the owner and the winning dog, where championship titles can “command higher pay for breeding purposes,” as well recognition from the global canine industry.

Purebred dogs of all shapes and sizes — from the almost-pocket sized chihuahuas to the larger Dobermans – paraded to show off in the dog show where “the most beautiful wins.”

“There is different from dog shows that measures the canine’s skills on obedience or agility. This is purely a contest for dogs that can attain the closest generic standards of beauty set by international canine bodies,” Montiero said.
"Kisses," a 3-yr old bulldog

Named after a beauty queen, "Shamcey" is a 6-month old Chihuahua which has the height of less than 10 centimeters.

Mrs Rublee said Nike is not a difficult purebred dog to maintain since it can eat anything – from yogurt to pizza.

But its grooming can mean “a lot of work and commitment” for its owners which included regular veterinary checkups. A handler also comes daily to train Nike on obeying commands.

Nike’s chestnut-colored coat is long and silky, using common “human shampoos” for its weekly baths.

“Nike loves competitions, too. As you can see in this dog show, she is so confident being herself,” Mrs Rublee pointed out, with the Setter hardly making noise and it follows every command of a handler.

"Nike" gets a ribbon for being the winner in the sporting group.

At one point of the contest, Nike placed 2nd in one of the elimination rounds of its group which came as a bit of disappointment for its owner. “I am not sure how the judges rate Irish Setters, so I’ll need to ask.”

The show’s judges were Choi Moonjeong and Yasushi Shimazaki, flown in from South Korea and Japan, respectively.

Montiero said both internationally-accredited judges have mastered the craft of dog show judging for “at least 10 years” and are not paid for doing their job.

A dachshund puppy in the Philippines can range from P4,000-P8,000, according to canine clubs.

Dobermans are known to be as intelligent, alert and loyal companion dogs.

 A dog-eat-dog world, too

“Who wants to live in a world where dogs eat each other? ‘Doggy dog world’ is a beautiful world full of little puppies.”

Gloria, a Latina character on hit US TV sitcom “Modern Family” once said this after being corrected on the use of the idiomatic expression “dog-eat-dog world.”

Thus, Montiero said in jest: a dog-eat-dog world, can ironically sometimes refer to dog sports as well. But for most of its owners, its just a “doggy-dog world.”

Just like many intense competitions, Montiero said dog shows are not spared from intrigues. Recalling his tenure as a former official of the Philippines Canine Club, Incorporated (PCCI), conflicts that arose from dog shows have actually reached court litigations, he said.

“Remember, owners or handlers have very strong emotional attachment to their canines. Add up the amount of time, money and effort they spend to maintain them, the competition can really get fierce at times,” Montierro said.

“This may just be a type of dog sport but prestige and reputation is at stake here,” he stressed.Rappler.com

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