Pets & animals: Over 3,900 perfectly groomed dogs from 34 different countries took part in Luxembourg’s International Dog Show this weekend.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Cars from all over Europe seemed to have congregated in LuxExpo’s overcrowded parking lot this weekend. And if anyone wondered why the owners were there, the bumper stickers seemed to be a good indication: something about their interest in a whole lot of canine races.
Luxembourg’s International Dog Show is a popular event among dog breeders from near and far. Out of the 3,937 dogs that were shown during this 91st edition, many had made the trip from France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, but quite a lot came from Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK too. Not forgetting 34 dogs from Russia and one from Mexico! In all, 34 different countries and 263 different dog races were represented.
“The Luxembourgish Dog Show is very successful. We’re well situated geographically and people are always well taken care of here,” says Nicolas Schwab, president of the Fédération Cynologique Luxembourgeoise (Luxembourg Canine Federation), who organises the event at LuxExpo twice a year. He and his wife, a judge at dog shows, got into the whole thing unwittingly, a few decades ago. “It started when our son wanted a dog. We bought a Norman artesian basset but didn’t know much about it, so we joined a club. Then we got Scottish terriers and it kind of escalated after that…”
Even for anyone who knows man’s best friend well, going to a dog show for the first time can be a baffling experience. Not because of the strange way people run around in rings to show off their four-legged companions and then keep holding the dog’s tails in the air once they come to a standstill. Not because of the mesmerising grooming sessions that go on beforehand either.
No, what is really amazing is that so many dogs can be together in one place, without it being a total and deafening mess. It’s not. There was barely a bark to be heard--except some enthusiastic ones from the ring where the Luxembourg agility club did jumping demonstrations. “The dogs are really well behaved”, agrees Schwab. “Touching wood, I can even say we’ve never had any bites or other problems of the sort.”
Chow-chows, golden retrievers and beagles politely ignore each other while their humans fuss around them, making sure they look their best. Not a single dog rebels--not even those of the less obedient breeds. Neither do they seem to mind that once they enter the ring, they are judged on everything from their colouring to their build. “There’s an ‘ideal standard’ for each breed on which judgement is based but just as it is with humans, you’ll never find a faultless dog.”
The dog owners don’t come for the prize money. There is none. They come to compete for the title of best in breed, best in age group, best in class, etc., in order to increase the value of their dog’s offspring. At the Luxembourg show this weekend, 36 judges had been shipped in from 18 different countries to decide who got the certificates and the glory.
Danish breeder Henriette participated with one of her Swiss white shepherds, called Baily Cooper--already a champion in his homeland. Like 55 other countrymen participating in the event, she drove all the way from Denmark the day before and stayed at a hotel with her dog. “It’s the first time I participate in a show abroad. It’s been a nice experience but not a cheap one! And I have to admit that it’s disappointing to drive all this way and then only finish at a second place.”
The weekend’s most envied dog--the one who won the grand overall title of “Best in show”--was an Irish wolfhound with a suitable name: Bourbon Tullamore Good Stuff. He wasn’t the most dainty-looking dog of the show, but his very happy Russian owner certainly hadn’t made the trip to Luxembourg for nothing!