A dog handler quickly walked the small white poodle around the ring as a group of observers quietly watched.
With that demonstration and several other simultaneous breed competitions, the Westbury Kennel Association kicked off its annual all-breed dog show Sunday morning at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay.
Nearly 500 dogs were expected to participate in two competitions to accumulate points and earn higher rankings to advance the careers of the bred animals.
“These are the shows that lead to national championship dog shows,” said Patricia Enright, show chairwoman and president of the association. “It’s a competition to adjudicate breeding stock.”
Merrick exhibitor William Sparks said he got involved in dog shows in 2004 after several compliments regarding his pet named Nick, a red-colored Norwich terrier.
On Sunday, Freddy, his 6-year-old Norwich terrier, was in the breed competition to accumulate points.
Harrison breeder and handler Sasha Farnsworth, 46, trimmed Dudley, a white Bichon frise between the ages of 1 and 2.
She combed the dog and coated him with baby powder.
“I grew up in this business. My mother was a breeder for 59 years,” Farnsworth said.
But her own champion canine was competing against other champions Sunday for more points in hopes of becoming a grand champion.
What she enjoys most, she said, is the relationship with animals and giving dogs makeovers.
Enright said canines have been man’s best friend for possibly thousands of years.
“The dog has probably been the only animal of its own free will to choose to be loyal to humans dating back to cave man days,” she said.
Dogs participated in categories such as sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding and miscellaneous.
Other canines in the competition included Australian and Bergamasco shepherds, Akitas, Labrador retrievers and Rottweilers.
Exhibitors ranged as far west as Washington state and as south as Texas.
Some owner-handlers striving for a spot in the finals at the AKC National Championship in Orlando, Florida, this December also competed in a special series called the National Owner-Handled Series.