Vermillion enjoys dogged competition

Vermillion enjoys dogged competition Celeste Perkins (at right) and an unidentified woman prepare Perkins' black Great Dane, Sirus, for a professional photograph. Sirus was named champion of his class Saturday morning. by David Lias Sirus enjoys eating home-cooked meals, taking long rides in the family van and taking a low-key approach to any challenge.

So much for a dog's life.

The 4-year-old black Great Dane was one of approximately 1,300 canines that participated in the Sioux Valley Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show and Obedience Trials.

The event was held June 26-27 at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Vermillion.

Sirus' owner, Celeste Perkins, of Colorado Springs, CO, has been showing dogs for 12 years now.

"But showing Danes, I just started with him," she said, pointing at Sirus.

Perkins and Sirus had a few moments to relax after their show earlier Saturday morning. It ended with the regal dog being named champion of his class, and experiencing all the glamour of a photo session.

The mild-mannered dog took all of the extra attention in stride. That's saying a lot, because the hefty dog certainly had plenty of weight to throw around.

He's gentle as a lamb, however.

"He's about 36 inches at the shoulder, and he weighs about 172 pounds, and he's just a big baby," Perkins said. "Great Danes are big babies; he thinks every child is his child, and he loves kids and puppies. He's just a real quiet kind of guy.

"He's just very intimidating when you meet him," she said.

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Perkins admits Sirus and their other Great Dane, Sirus' half brother, are spoiled rotten. "My husband cooks more for them than he does for us," she said. "They are our companions first and show dogs second."

The lifestyle of Perkins and her husband, John Collums, and the disposition of Great Danes are a perfect match.

The couple did make a compromise, however. If they weren't dog owners, they'd probably enjoy driving sports cars.

They've settled on something a bit more pedestrian � a van � to give their two Great Danes plenty of room. "They love to stick their heads out the windows with their lips flapping in the breeze," Perkins said.

She was happy to have traveled all the way from Colorado for the weekend competition in Vermillion.

"We're delighted," Perkins said. "This is a beautiful location for the show. Sioux Valley has really done a beautiful job with this show."

Saturday's weather cooperated with all of the dog owners. The sun stayed behind clouds, keeping the canines' panting to a minimum.

"Sirus loves coming to the shows," Perkins said. "He loves to play with the puppies."

Rachel Kent traveled from Austin, TX, to Vermillion to show her dog, a Maltese.

This breed of dog is opposite in almost every way to Perkins' Great Dane. It's small, in the Toy Breeds Category, with a white coat so long that its legs and body are hidden.

"This is the number one breed of dog that doesn't bite people," Kent said.

Jody Milligan of Winterset, IA, relaxed for a moment inside a tent located between the show rings at the fairgrounds. She had just finished showing Libby, a standard poodle, in the best of variety competition.

Libby was named best of breed in the non-sporting group.

The poodle is owned by Sally and Charles Poindexter, Broken Arrow, OK.

The dogs at the show share such common names with much longer "registered" names. Libby was listed in the show's program as Sachas Starfleet Silhouette.

Milligan is in charge of Libby's meticulous grooming.

"The bath and the blow-out take about two-and-a-half hours, and the scissoring and the clipping runs about an hour," she said. "When you get to the show, you're looking at about another hour-and-a-half prep before you make it to the ring."

Patty Smith traveled from Paradise Valley, AZ to show her Chinese Crested toy dog at the weekend show.

Most owners have to worry about their dogs getting too hot in the summer. Smith needs to take care that her mostly hairless dog stays warm. She scooped up the small dog and wrapped it in an afghan.

"They're bred just to be a companion dog," she said. "We love Vermillion. This is the first time that we've been here, but we'll be back. This is a beautiful little town."

What does a judge look for?

As a judge looks over each dog in the ring, she or he is comparing him to a mental picture of the perfect dog of that breed.

Each dog is judged on:

? Physical structure (head, teeth, feet, bone structure, muscle tone, etc.)

? Condition (proper weight, condition of coat, animation, etc.)

? Gait, as seen from front, side and rear.

? Temperament, penalizing heavily for shyness or viciousness.

In a dog show, the competition becomes keener and more exciting at the end. When all breeds have been judged, only one dog in each breed remains undefeated � the one which was chosen Best of Breed.

These dogs are called to compete in one of the seven groups: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding. The seven winners then compete and one is chosen best of show.

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