Lir is 193 pounds and just over 36 inches tall. He has gray hair, and even though he is only 2 years old, he has the makings of a champion.
Lir, an Irish wolfhound, was competing for the top prize of Best in Show at the Sun Maid Kennel Club of Fresno show held this past weekend at the Fresno Fairgrounds.
Once a year, the Sun Maid Kennel Club of Fresno holds its two-day event.
Clovis resident Jim Miller, Lir’s owner, said the dog’s father is a grand champion, and Miller hopes Lir will follow in his father’s paw steps.
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“We’re here for the competition,” Miller said.
Miller explained that Irish wolfhounds historically have hunted wolves – hence the name – and since it’s the tallest of all dog breeds, sometimes pulled knights from horses.
Lir is classified as a hound dog; Miller has been showing various dogs for six years.
Once you’ve judged all of the different groups – you get a winner from each of the seven groups – those seven dogs compete for Best in Show.
Barbara Gaffney, secretary of Sun Maid Kennel Club of Fresno
Miller said that it was his wife, Ylva Ghazal, who wanted an Irish wolfhound. But because of the sheer size of Lir, who still hasn’t reached maturity, “I wound up with the honors of showing the dog.”
Rod McKinney cheered on his wife while she led their English springer spaniel, Westly, on the show runway.
“We’ve been doing this for 30 years,” said McKinney, who lives in Minden, Nev. This is a long tradition for many.
Westly was one of hundreds of dogs at the dog show.
There are seven category groups of dogs – each with 12 to 24 dog breeds.
Barbara Gaffney, secretary of Sun Maid Kennel Club of Fresno, explained the long process of choosing Best in Show.
“Once you’ve judged all of the different groups – you get a winner from each of the seven groups – those seven dogs compete for Best in Show,” Gaffney said.
She explained that the seven groups of dog breeds are working, sporting, nonsporting, hounds, herding, terriers and toys.
There were roughly 1,800 entries into the dog shows. Dog owners have two shots at Best in Show. The first show was Saturday; the second show Sunday. The same dogs, or new ones, competed for the title, and returning dogs do so with a different set of judges.
Saturday’s Best in Show winner was GCH Wilson’s I’m Your Handyman, a Bulldog owned by Jay Serion of Seattle. Sunday’s Best in Show winner was Ch Snowtaires Next Generation, a Lakeland Terrier owned by Lauren Parker from Oberlin, Ohio.