Detroit Kennel Club Competition kicks off with 600 dogs

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Novi — More than 600 dogs will wag their tails and show off their best tricks for the judges this weekend hoping to take home "best in show" titles. 

Detroit Kennel Club is hosting their 118th annual dog show Saturday and Sunday at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, where 638 dogs are registered to compete. 

The showroom has been taken over by the dogs, their trainers, handlers, vendors for the two-day dog fest.

Dr. Larry Letsche, DVM, gives 'Flynn,' a treat as family friend, Corinna Ohrnberger, left, 15, all of Salem Twp. a treat. Flynn is the winner of Best In Show of the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club in New York. Larry and his wife, Lorrie Carlton (background) are the co-owners and breeders of Flynn.

"First dogs go through showing for points by judges, then they compete for best in breed and then group rings," said Kellie FitzGerald, chief ring steward. "They also have obedience training and a bar hunt where they have to find a rat through barrels of hay. We're very excited to see who places this year."

FitzGerald said the event has seen a higher attendance this year with many fans attending to meet Flynn, a bichon frise, who won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club in February. 

"We're here on Flynn's media tour but he'll soon head back to California, but people are still welcome to come and take photos with him," said Larry Letsche, one of Flynn's owners of Belle Creek Bishons. "He's 6 now, but after his media tour, he'll be retired from competing."

Many like René Sutton, from Ray Township, hope her pooch Sr. Duncan will place this year. Sr. Duncan is a 4-year-old golden retriever who qualified for best in breed Saturday. 

"This is my 16th year at the show and we're hoping to compete for Official Trial Champ and Grand Master this year," Sutton said. "Last year, he won a trick dog title by getting a tissue when I sneezed."

Sutton said nearly half of the dogs who compete don't qualify after the first round because it's very difficult. 

"This is a very hard show, but Duncan loves it and he's been training since he was a puppy," Sutton said. "It can be difficult for other dogs because it's loud and noisy but for some natural dogs, they compete as if it's playing for them."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_