BELTON — Jessie Burrow, 78, of Austin, wanted another interest he could share with his wife.
“I liked to play golf, she really didn’t. She liked to play bridge, but I really didn’t,” said Burrow, a retired Air Force major. ”We were trying to find something that we could do together and we got into dogs, sort of accidentally.”
Burrow was one of about 1,100 owners who showed their dogs in seven breed categories Sunday during the annual Bell County Kennel Club Conformation Performance at the Bell County Expo Center.
The performance can be compared to a beauty contest, said Sandra Schmidt, president and show chairman of the kennel club. The dogs are judged against a written standard that the American Kennel Club has for each breed, which describes what it should look like in terms of size, shape, color and movement.
“The purpose is to identity outstanding specimens to encourage the breeding of those dogs instead of breeding in someone’s backyard,” Schmidt said.
When Burrow first started, he enjoyed the challenge of grooming and training his poodles to those standards with his wife. Now, he does it simply for the love of dogs.
“I have a lot of fun with them,” said Burrow, who showed two dogs in the competition: a black miniature poodle, Hope, and a white toy poodle, Sunny. “They’re characters, and they keep us young.”
From grooming, bathing, walking and feeding, taking care of the pups is basically a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job.
“It keeps me active,” he said “I got to get up and get to work. You can’t take a weekend off.”
Spending time with his wife was the whole reason he started showing dogs about 20 years ago, so it’s a perk that he also gets to create memories with his daughter, Diana Burrow.
She got her first show dog about five years ago because she loves poodles and saw how much fun her parents were having.
“I’ve always been animal crazy and this just gives me an excuse (to create a bond with them),” she said.
Although it’s mostly fun for Jessie Burrow, he said showing his dogs is competitive just like anything else.
“It doesn’t make my dog any better to come here and show — the dog is the same,” he said. “But to bring my dog out to prove to everybody else that my dog is good makes you feel good.”