Though she’s no stranger to the dog show scene, Sherri Bell admits she was a little nervous over the weekend.
For the last two years, she’s been participating in dog shows monthly on the local and regional level.
"I’ve only been to the local shows and to me now that’s an old hat, I’m used to it," Bell said, laughing.
Bell works as a veterinary technician at South Hall Veterinary in Oakwood.
When her 2 1/2-year-old, standard wire hair dachshund, Sir Arthur, won a Grand Champion title earlier this year, he was invited to the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.
Bell decided to save her money and make the trip to Orlando, Fla., for the honor of participating in the event.
She said the experience was totally different from any other show she’d been to.
Bell said she felt like a little duck in a big pond among the nation’s top dog breeders and handlers.
"I was really, really nervous when I got into the ring," Bell said.
Though Sir Arthur didn’t make it through the preliminary rounds, Bell said she has a better idea of what to expect in the future.
"I’ll try not to be so nervous. I’ll keep in mind that it’s not that much different than being in a normal show," Bell said.
She said right now she’s happy with the exposure.
"I’ll get to be out there (and) more and more people will know me, and I can get to be as good everybody else out there," Bell said.
According to the AKC website, the competition has been invitation only in past years. This was the first year the competition was open to all show dogs with championship and grand championship points.
Bell brought Sir Arthur’s brother and sister, Duce and Morgan, both 19 months old, along for the competition as well.
Bell said she didn’t expect to win anything though all of the dogs have done very well in previous shows.
Surprisingly, Duce won the "Winners Dog" award at Eukanuba. The Winners Dog is chosen from among all first-place dogs in the competition.
"I was in shock when they gave him Winners Dog on Saturday. Oh yeah, I was in shock. I really didn’t expect to get Winners Dog over people who’ve been showing for a long time," she said, laughing.
Bell said she’s very proud of all of her dogs. This was the first time they’d been to anything this big and she was very pleased with the outcome.
A lot of other show-dog owners might be more reserved with their animals than Bell.
Bell said she doesn’t worry about germs and dogfights the way a lot people seem to. Her more than 20 years of working with animals has made her confident.
"When I walk around, I’m just a simple country girl, I want people to pet my dogs," Bell said.
She said a lot of breeders have the wrong idea about how diseases are spread between dogs, and a simple pat on the head isn’t going to cause problems.
Bell said the dogs love the personalized attention they get from doing shows, Sir Arthur in particular.
"He loves to show and as long as he loves to do it, I’ll take him and do it," Bell said.
"To me it’s not about being the top dog. He enjoys it, and I enjoy being there with him while he enjoys it. He’s a dog and he can’t tell me, but I can see how he acts when I grab a collar ... a lot of times he prances."
The national championship will air on ABC Television Networks on Feb. 2.