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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Cindy Cook grooms her Scottish terrier, Tansy, before they perform for the judges at Sunday's Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at Memorial Coliseum.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Grahm Miller, right, introduces Corbly, a flat-coated retriever, to the judges during the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at the Coliseum on Sunday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Sherry Canciamille walks Sammy the Boxer for the judges at the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at the Coliseum on Sunday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette A pack of pooches wait for their turn in line to be judged at the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at the Coliseum on Sunday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Fancy-Pants and her cousin Bruno wrestle around during the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at the Coliseum on Sunday.  

Monday, November 06, 2017 1:00 am

Annual dog show draws pet lovers to Coliseum

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

It didn't take much for Ty, a competitor in the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show, to look his best Sunday.

His handler, after all, did all the work.

As other dogs showed off for judges in rings throughout Memorial Coliseum Expo Center, Ty stood on a grooming table, seemingly patient as Chuck Ialungo fluffed his coat with a hose emitting warm air.

The Newfoundland – a working breed known to have a sweet temperament – performed “very well” over the weekend, Ialungo said, reaching for three ribbons Ty had won by mid-afternoon Sunday.

The four-day event, which offered a show each day, was hosted by the Northeastern Indiana Kennel Club. The LaPorte County Kennel Club and the Marion Kennel Club also participated.

About 4,800 dogs from across the nation participated, cluster chairman Jerry Miller said.

It's not unusual to see many of the dogs compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, he said, noting that's a point of pride among Old Fort Cluster organizers. Held in New York City, Westminster is considered the most prestigious dog show in America.

Crowds were thinning as the Old Fort Cluster neared its end Sunday, but Miller estimated the dog show attracted about 400 to 500 spectators each day.

“Everybody loves pets,” he said.

Admission was free, but organizers asked guests to bring a dog food item for the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry.

Michelle Hecht of Fort Wayne brought her daughters, ages 3 and 7, to support their neighbor, a participant.

“They enjoy it,” Hecht said, standing a few feet from the girls, who were sitting near the white fencing blocking off one of the rings.

Although she is a dog owner, Hecht said she doesn't envision she would be more than a spectator at a dog show.

“I don't have the patience, the dedication it would take,” she said.

Jane Cooney of Cincinnati brought two novices to the show – 4-month-old whippets.

She didn't intend to show the pups, she said. The event let her expose them to a dog show environment and to get friends' opinions about them. She noted the day marked their second time walking on a leash.

“I carried them both in,” Cooney said.

Ialungo, who traveled from the Detroit area, said he has been showing dogs since the early 1980s. Unlike some in the dog-show circuit, he said, he has done it as a hobby.

As he readied Ty for the next round of judging, he shared information about the Newfoundland breed, such as their ability to swim in icy waters. Wiping drool from the dog's mouth, Ialungo shared another tidbit.

“They spit,” he said.