As Olympic athletes and spectators flocked to London, dogs from all over the country gathered in Lompoc for the 54th and 55th annual Lompoc Kennel Club Dog Show. Beginning Thursday, July 26, and finishing Sunday, July 29, hounds, shepherds, spaniels, and terriers of all shapes and sizes were putting their best paws forward.
A total 1,200 dogs competed this year, representing 170 different breeds both well-known and rare. Clumber spaniels Darwin and Mimi were among the unique breeds, their long white coats brushed to perfection. Their owner, Jan Sutherland of Wildomar, California, has been breeding Clumbers for 20 years.
DIY-ers like Sutherland, who showed her own dogs, as well as hired handlers ran canines around the competition rings for the Saturday and Sunday all-breed competition. The dogs were brought from their crates or grooming tables surrounding the competition, or from parking lots filled with motor homes boasting championship titles from other competitions across the state and country.
One well-represented breed was Salukis, mid-sized sight hounds who have existed since the days of King Tutankhamen. The Sunday show boasted a judge that flew in from New Zealand for the Salukis as a representative of the international group at the show that also included judges from Australia, Canada, England, and Sweden.
“Lompoc is famous among Saluki people,” said Lesley Brabyn of Bodega, California. “You often hear us saying to one another, ‘see you in Lompoc!’”
“And the coastal breeze makes their hair blow in the wind,” added Susan Hulsizer of Davis, California, indicating the luxurious hair that covers the Saluki’s ears.
This annual event packs Lompoc to overflowing, with all the area motels filled to capacity and 120 motor homes and trailers filling the parking lot of Ryon Park, where the show takes place. Pete DeSoto, Lompoc Kennel Club President since 1971 estimates that for every dog, there were three people present: a breeder, a groomer, and a handler, putting the total population increase at approximately 3,000.
“It would really behoove the city to continue having the show here,” said DeSoto, “this event brings in more money than any other event in the city.”
Indeed, a Lompoc Chamber of Commerce study discovered that the Dog Show surpasses all other Lompoc festivities, bringing in approximately $1.5 million in the form of bed taxes, restaurant bills, and other purchases.
The city of Lompoc has spent a lot of time recently ridding Ryon Park of gophers that could jeopardize the ankles of dogs and their handlers. In preparation for next year’s show, there is still some work to be done to repair the grounds due to tunnel collapse.
“The city’s done a super job so far of killing the gophers,” said DeSoto, “Hopefully we’ll have a great showground next year.”