By LUIS FELIU
MURWILLUMBAH Showground was awash with almost 1000 dogs of all shapes, colour and sizes at the weekend for the inaugural Tweed River Canine Club championship show which was hailed a howling success.
It was a dog-lovers paradise for the two days as some of the best pure-bred canines in the country put their best paws forward in the hope of being judged best of breed, best in group and the ultimate prize - best exhibit in show.
Club president and show dog keeper for 30 years, Alby Webster, of Fernvale, described the turnout and running of the show by the eight-month-old club as "fantastic".
Mr Webster, who also runs the annual Tweed River Agricultural Society dog show, said his club's big weekend event drew just under 1000 dogs from 85 different breeds and their owners, who came from Victoria to Queensland and in between.
Keen breeder of Havanese dogs, Philip Williams, was all smiles after his pet dog called Rumbles won best in the toy-dog group on both days and runner-up in the show on Saturday. "They're a rare breed and there's only 30 of this type in Australia, they're known as Havana silk dogs or Cuban dogs which were originally bred as guard or pet dogs and also for herding chickens and ducks by Cuban families," a proud Mr Williams said.
"They are very tolerant to heat and cold extremes and have a good temperament - they're lovely to live with".
Mr Williams said he had been a regular breeder of the dogs for the past few years after seeing them during a visit to the Crufts dog show in the UK and the world dog show in Portugal where an off-leash Havanese ran up to him and jumped into his lap.
After talking to the dog's Finnish owner, he decided to breed them, importing two of the dogs from the US and one from Finland.
"This dog's more travelled than most people and he's done a lot of winning?.?.?.?he was shown at every major Royal show last year and won best of breed at every one of them," he said.
The Havanese Club of Norway, he said, had recently invited him to show Rumbles there. And his philosophy on dog breeding?
"Dogs are not bred, you don't breed for a show winner, you develop a dog to win, working on his coat etc?.?.?.?all we get is a puppy with four legs to start with," he said. Gold Coast-based dog handler Melissa Starkey's six-year-old Siberian husky called Jordan won best in show.
The dog, owned by Mrs Doris Lan, of Melbourne, was originally bred for sledding and is a very popular breed in Australia, according to Ms Starkey.
"People like the look of the dog but the husky's not a breed for everyone. "They lose their coat and you need good fencing because they don't come back if they're not on a lead," she said.
"People tend to have them for 12 months and then want to find homes for them because they get out, or lose their coat or howl," she said.
Both Ms Starkey and Mr Williams praised the show organisers for running a top show and were impressed with the well-kept grounds which made it easier on the pampered pets and their owners.