This Saturday, dog lovers and owners in Kampala and the rest of Uganda will have the chance to witness and participate in Uganda’s second annual ultimate dog show. In the words of the organizers, the dog show is a proposed entertainment and educational day out, with dogs of different breeds showcasing their abilities and talents.
The idea for this dog show was birthed by Nicholas and Armstrong, two of the show’s organizers, in 2010. At the time, a few dog shows had been organized by the Uganda Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (USPCA) but on a rather small scale. Another event known as the ‘Shaggy show’ had been put together by a few dog lovers in Kampala. Dreaming of something bigger, the two friends Nicholas and Armstrong, both dog enthusiasts, worked on developing the idea for a grand annual dog event.
The first annual ultimate dog took place in August 2011 at the Kampala Rugby club. In attendance were the Uganda Police, the Anti terrorism Unit and dog owners all the way from Mbarara. Last year’s event was a success. However, the organizers cited challenges with regard to getting the word out to interested parties and convincing prospective sponsors of the feasibility of the event. They also had some difficulty rallying up dog trainers especially because most of the security firms that they contacted did not have their own canine units but outsourced the dogs when the need for them arose. Some dog owners refused to participate claiming that they had the same idea and wanted to create dog shows of their own.
This year’s event, however, is set to be even bigger and better. With sponsors like Nile gold, NTV, SMS Jaja, Red pepper and Silk events backing the project, the organizers no longer face any communication challenges and expect a big turn up. In an effort to get a variety of dogs for the event, the organizers travelled around the city talking to dog owners and went as far as the Kakira Sugar works, which Armstrong avers has the best kennel in the country hosting some of the most well trained dogs.
Even though the show places no restriction on the breed or pedigree of the dogs that trainers can bring to the show, German shepherds are the most common participants. Surprisingly, the local dogs seem to be worthy contestants for the thoroughbreds in the show. According to Armstrong, last year’s show saw interesting demonstrations of obedience and a variety of other skills from the local dogs with they expect to see again on Saturday.
The Saturday show will start at 10:00am with a red carpet photo shoot for the dogs, dog owners and dog lovers. There will be a bazaar with dog related merchandise on sale and a jumping castle and face painting for the children. During the course of the day, the dogs participating in the dog show shall be tested in tracking and sniffing, agility, obedience and attack and shall be judged by a panel of three judges on the different skills.
There will be another award for best in show, which is simply a beauty contest for the dogs. There has been some controversy over the best in show award by some dog owners who feel that their skilled dogs will be outdone in the competition by talentless poodles simply because they are cuter. I guess we’ll just have to see how the beauty versus ability debate is resolved by the judges on Saturday. In future, the dog show will be placing more emphasis on a working dog; one which is able to track and sniff, obey, attack and demonstrate agility. When this happens, there will be a new award of Top Dog introduced for dogs that are the best in all these disciplines.
The organizers are serious about the security of the event and have ensured some safety measures in this regard. The dog owners have been banned from bringing any females in season, the temperaments of the dogs will be considered before they are let in and each dog will have a leash. The objective of the dog show is to ensure that the public is aware of the invaluable benefit of dogs as well as to offer great family entertainment.