The dog shows come back to Oyster Bay this weekend, with some new pet tricks.
For the first time, the three-day event will include a "dock-diving" competition for canine amateurs into a vast pool of water. Dog owners can have their pets vie for the title of longest broad jumper.
The event is just one set up by the hosts -- Ladies Kennel Association of America and Long Island Kennel Club -- where mixed breed dogs can compete in charming and amusing ways while pedigrees vie for top of their breed.
"It's a fun day," says Pat Cruz, secretary of the Ladies Kennel Association of America and member of the national board of directors for the American Kennel Club. "People come from all over the tri-state area."
It's the 10th year such a show has been held at Planting Fields. Organizers suggest bringing your own chair -- there is no provided seating -- as well as a water bowl for your dog.
MY DOG IS BETTER THAN YOUR DOG
Prove your dog's aquatic abilities with the dock-diving competition. Since there's no real dock, a pool filled with 25,000 gallons of water will have to do.
The contest is simple. Dogs jump off a ramp, or side of a "dock," chasing a toy that is either thrown or hanging from a rope.
The entry fee for the dock-diving contest is $25, and $10 for a re-try, which includes some advice for beginners. Register at northamericadivingdogs .com or when at the event.
"They love it," says Jessica Rice D'Amato, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club. "You see tiny Boston terriers, rottweilers, and golden retrievers and Labs. They're good at it."
Expect to see some dock-diving divas, too, since people travel with their dogs to enter the North America Diving Dogs competition, an approved AKC activity.
If water sports aren't your dog's thing, there's the AKC's "My Dog Can Do That," on May 16 and 17, when your pet can try (after a brief introduction and lesson) competing in jumping, obedience and navigating obstacles. "It takes the pampered pooch off the couch," Cruz says.
On Friday, dogs can be certified "good citizens" by the AKC through a 10-step test -- useful, say, if it's needed by a homeowner's association, she says. The free test assesses the dog's temperament when petted and for not pulling on a leash, for instance.
BEST IN BREED, SHOW
Pure breeds still rule this weekend, of course. Each day has a series of breed-judging competitions. "It's much like a Westminster type of thing," Cruz says.
Each breed is represented by its own club, and competes according to strict and historical standards set up by those clubs, she says, including stature, length of body and other features. "There's a lot of good bulldogs on Long Island," she notes, for instance. "And some famous ones, as a matter of fact."
Friday and Saturday are the judging by the Ladies Kennel Association of America. Sunday is the Long Island Kennel Club's show.
The Ladies Kennel Association of America was founded in 1900 by wives of Westminster Kennel Club members, since that group was dominated by men. Its first show was at Madison Square Garden in 1901. The Association is donating a $20,000 trailer to house dogs during catastrophic events, such as a hurricane, to the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE
Vendors will sell all sorts of dog-related items, from shampoos to clothing.
And don't miss the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of spring in the Planting Fields gardens this time of year, with azaleas, daffodils and tulips expected to be in full bloom.
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-sundown May 15-17 at Planting Fields, 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay. Rain or shine.
ADMISSION $10 (or $20 per carload)