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Dogs strut their stuff at Expo Center

Michelle Breen Cincinnati grooms Cole standard poodle Saturday Porter County Expo Center during annual dog show sponsored by Valparaiso Kennel

Michelle Breen of Cincinnati grooms Cole, a standard poodle, on Saturday at the Porter County Expo Center during the annual dog show sponsored by the Valparaiso Kennel Club. | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:57AM



VALPARAISO — Indy was really patient.

Michelle Breen of Cincinnati fluffed the black standard poodle’s fur with a pick, the finishing touch on a lengthy grooming process.

“I do it in stages, but if I did it all straight through, it would take six hours,” she said, adding she would shave the dog the first day, bathe and blow-dry it the second day, and use a scissors for shaping on the third day.

Indy wasn’t the only dog getting prettied up Saturday during the annual dog show at the Porter County Expo Center. The show, sponsored by the Valparaiso Kennel Club, includes 544 dogs in 105 breeds.

The 37th annual show continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and is free to the public.

The majority of handlers and owners in the show are from the Midwest, though there are some from each coast, said Scott Wasserman, the show’s co-chairman. The event features five show rings, as well as vendors offering supplies, treats, clothes and other dog-themed wares.

Breen has been showing standard poodles for nine years. Indy is ranked 13th in its breed in the country, she said. She also brought Indy’s son, Cole, to show, which she’s been to before.

“We pick the shows based on the judges, judges who’ve liked our dogs before, and we try to figure what the competition will be there and whether we have a good shot against the competition,” she said.

New at the show was a booth for the U.S. War Dogs Association. John Meeks, executive director for a chapter of the association based in Kokomo and representing the Midwest, said the kennel club asked him to come to the show because it’s so close to Veterans Day.

Meeks was a dog handler in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He and his German shepherd, Artus, served as a scout team, going out ahead of a company or a platoon.

“He would alert to anything out of the ordinary. He actually alerted to a trip wire one time,” Meeks said, adding Artus died of a gunshot wound after being passed on to another handler.

These days, 3,300 dogs serve in the U.S. military, including 200 in Afghanistan, Meeks said, adding his organization promotes the history of war dogs and supports dogs serving now.

“I do this in memory of Artus. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. I owe him everything,” Meeks said.



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