Thousands of dogs from all around, and the people who come with them, will be at the Celebrate Virginia Cluster Dog Show for five days starting Jan. 8.

The show, returning to the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center, will include dogs from the working, sporting, non-sporting, hound, toy, herding and terrier groups, said Becky Heubi, the dog show’s co-chairman.

The free show, hosted by the cluster, which includes the Greater Fredericksburg, the Northern Neck and the Charlottesville–Albermarle kennel clubs, will include lots of dogs for people to see and admire.

“If they love dogs, they can see over 100 different breeds of dogs at the show,” Heubi said.

In a first this year, the cluster will add the Peewee Competition where children and their dogs can get into the show ring with a judge and everything, Heubi said.

“The American Kennel Club has been promoting this for children up to 9. They can bring their dog and they will register, and they will go into the ring as if they were showing their dog,” she said.

Children are likely to have a bit of a good time in the peewee competition, held between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with any dog at least 4 months old allowed.

“It’s a fun competition. It will give them a feeling of what it’s like to show a dog,” Heubi said. “Everybody gets a prize and a rosette.”

The competition will end with a little party.

“We serve them refreshments afterward and the parents like it because they can take pictures and videos. It’s just fun,” Heubi said. “If anyone is interested they can go to website and find information there and register their child.”

Heubi said seeing a dog show in person has advantages to watching one on television.

“There are aisles you can walk through and see what it takes to get a dog ready to show in the ring,” Heubi said. “They can see how the dogs are being bathed and groomed.”

People will also learn that dog handlers don’t just jump into a show ring with their dogs. There’s a whole lot of backstage work that’s not seen much on television.

“You can see somebody take a dog into the ring on TV, but you really don’t know what they have done in the two or three hours prior to getting to walk through that gate into the ring,” Heubi said.

People who visit the dog show on Saturday will also be able to take part in the Responsible Dog Owner Education and Meet the Breed event between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Heubi said that there will be a number of dog owners and handlers at the event to answer questions and give advice about breed characteristics to people who are considering getting a dog.

People might think they want a Doberman Pinscher, for example, but it might not be the dog they need.

“There will actually be people there with different breeds of dogs so people can ask questions,” Heubi said. “It prevents people from getting into something that the really shouldn’t have gotten into. It helps to make the path toward getting a dog, that you can really enjoy, easier.”

Heubi said there have been “quite a few” dogs, that have won best in show or reserve best in show in Fredericksburg that have gone on to bigger things.

“We have had dogs that were best in show or reserve best in show go on Westminster,” Heubi said. “Our show is kind of a final tuneup for Westminster.”

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