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CALEDONIA — “Off!” Robin Krumnow of Oak Creek barked at the affable, 100-pound Bernese mountain dog named Buddha as he tried to crawl onto her lap Saturday morning at Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park’s All Breed Dog Show.

“He thinks he’s a lap dog,” Krumnow remarked.

Perhaps Buddha, a tricolor 2½-year-old, was feeling especially affectionate because he’d accumulated enough points Friday, the show’s first day, to become a champion. Buddha was there with his usual clan: Krumnow; her daughter, Rebecca Dove of Milwaukee and Dove’s 2-year-old son Dominic; and Krumnow’s sister, Kerry Waltersdorf of Hartford.

Of the group, Dove now acts as handler, because that job requires running the dog around the ring before the judge’s eyes, and her mother and aunt have passed that baton to her.

The three women, who all own Buddha’s mother together, go to about 30 dog shows a year. “It’s a good excuse to see family a lot,” Dove said.

When she is working and her husband is not, instead of dog shows Dominic goes to car shows with his dad.

Dog lovers who attended Saturday’s daylong show would have had up to 580 dogs, covering 118 breeds, to admire.

For participants, a dog show consists of plenty of grooming and primping, intense concentration when it’s time to go before the judge, and lots of time just relaxing, usually in the shade.

Buddha’s owners were full of interesting tidbits about the qualities of Bernese mountain dogs. “They’re one of the few breeds that herd without nipping,” Dove said. “They just use their size. They’re very gentle.”

And, said Waltersdorf, “They like they like to bring you things as a peace offering” — often someone’s shoe.

The life of a judge

For Margie Wilson of Racine, Saturday’s dog show was one of the most sociable ones she attends. That’s because she was showing her two English cocker spaniels — not judging, as Wilson sometimes does for any of eight different breeds. The life of a judge is a lonely one.

“(American Kennel Club) is really strict on their policies,” Wilson explained. “They want to keep all judging fair and honest. So they don’t really want the judges to be mingling and socializing with the exhibitors … if I were judging, I wouldn’t be allowed to be under this grooming tent and talking to people. They want every person who comes to the show to have a fair chance.”

Judges must even stay at a different hotel than exhibitors, Wilson said.

She added: “If you’re judging, you’re not allowed to show on the same weekend that you judge.”

Family activity

Dog shows are a real family activity, Wilson said, and children can get involved at an early age with pee wee classes, followed by junior showmanship classes.

“It’s kind of a lifetime activity,” she said. “And when you get old, too old to run, then you can become a judge. There’s something in it for everybody.”

“If you’re thinking of getting a dog for your family,” Wilson pointed out, “it’s nice to come to the show and see the different breeds and talk to people. Everybody’s welcome at the show.”

Besides the breed exhibiting, today’s show will include lure coursing, a sport in which a dog chases a rapidly moving lure across the ground.

The All Breed Dog Show continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, with 605 dogs of 124 different breeds entered. Parking is $5, but show admission is free.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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