The 22nd Mountain Valley Cluster Dog Show kicked off Wednesday.
More than 145 breeds and 5,000 dogs will be competing for the champion of the show.
On opening day, more than 900 dogs are competing for a spot to move on to the finals, but judges expect an even bigger crowd soon.
“Over the weekend, more than a thousand entered each day,” said Mallory Driskill, Assistant Show Chair.
As you can imagine, with thousands of dogs competing that also brings thousands of people to Salem. Driskill says this show has a huge economic impact on local business.
“We’re eating out. The restaurants go ‘oh is the dog show in town’ so they kind of get a clue that we’re around, and it does fill up. You can’t get a room around here,” said Driskill.
Judges are looking for several things when scoring dogs. From look to comfort to obedience.
“You have to get them use to that. Use to the strangers, and to the environment. It takes a well socialized puppy,” she said.
But there’s much more that goes in to it than being social. Kellie Fitzgerald is a professional handler. She says it’s a full time job getting this dogs ready for competition.
“It’s something that you do at home practically every single day. It’s a matter of proper nutrition and exercise. Even a dog treadmill. Working with the coat and that’s almost a daily basis depending on the breed,” she said.
One thing she focuses on the most is keeping her dogs happy and positive before competing. She says that one thing can make or break your whole day.
“And you can tell when a dog is in the ring, and looking up at their handler, and they’re happy, and they’re fun, and they’re responding. It’s not just a robotic thing. They just love being in that environment with the other dogs running around in the ring,” she said.
She says in between the brushing, and hair drying, and polishing, she makes sure to mix in a lot of praises and treats before heading out on the floor.
The dog show continues at the Salem Civic Center through this Sunday.