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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Carol Cooper hands a treat to her golden retriever, Evening Star's Ready Or Not, during her class competition Sunday at the Old Fort Cluster Dog Shows at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Judge Dennis Gallant takes a look at trainer Holley Eldred’s rottweiler, Hammer, on Sunday at the dog show. More than 175 breeds participated, including two rare breeds the barbet and the Biewer terrier.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Tammy Tomlinson and her Golden Retriever Daniel prepare to show Sunday afternoon at the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show inside the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Tony Vacha sets his dog Hedy up for judging during the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show Sunday afternoon at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Carol Cooper sets her golden retriever, Evening Star’s Ready Or Not, in a pose for the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at the Memorial Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Tammy Tomlinson takes her golden retriever Daniel around the ring for judging during the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show Sunday afternoon at the Memorial Coliseum.

Monday, November 05, 2018 1:00 am

Old Fort Cluster popular with people, pooches

'Great town to bring dogs into'

5-day event draws 2,800 canines to be judged, awarded

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

By midafternoon Sunday, Bea was tired – and she still had work to do.

The 4-year-old bullmastiff lie beside owner Carolyn Butera's feet in a small room at Memorial Coliseum as they waited to work toward a title for the former show dog.

“This is just a hobby that we do together,” Butera said of participating in rally obedience, a dog sport requiring the dog and handler to complete a course containing various tasks.

The event was part of the annual Old Fort Cluster Dog Shows, which attracted about 2,800 dogs over its five-day run, said Greg Wessel, Cluster chairman.

“Fort Wayne's a great town to bring dogs into,” he said, also complimenting Memorial Coliseum for its lighting, spaciousness and easy access.

Hosted by the Northeastern Indiana Kennel Club, Old Fort Cluster is an American Kennel Club-sanctioned dog show that often includes dogs on track to the Westminster Dog Show in New York.

More than 3,400 spectators attended this year's dog shows, with Saturday and Sunday each attracting more than 1,000 people, Wessel said. He called the shows great for families.

More than 175 breeds participated, including two rare breeds – the barbet and the Biewer terrier, Wessel said.

Ashley Houk, an 18-year-old Indianapolis high school student, traveled to the Summit City to show Pippa, an 11-month-old Samoyed.

“I kind of taught myself how to show,” Houk said, noting she's been at it 10 years.

At least 50 canines also contributed to the Dog Genome Project by providing cheek swabs and blood samples. The project, which is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, seeks to better understand genetic issues related to canine health.

Findings also can be applicable to humans, said Heidi Parker, staff scientist at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

There is “so much to look at with genetics and dogs,” she said.

People can contribute to the project via mail. Contact dog_genome@mail.nih.gov for information.

asloboda@jg.net