Bell County Expo Center

Judge Kimberly Maffit examines Callie, a Shetland Sheepdog being shown by Jennifer Harper from Houston during the Chisholm Trail Classic Show at the Bell County Expo Center on Sunday.

BELTON — Dogs were pampered, petted, coiffed and admired in the four-day Chisholm Trail Classic Show that ended Sunday at the Bell County Expo Center.

Two American Kennel Club licensed clubs combined for the show. The Stephenville Kennel Club of Texas showed Thursday and Friday and the Bell County Kennel Club showed Saturday and Sunday. About 29 judges looked at 160 different breeds to determine AKC championship points, Best of Breed and Best of Show awards.

George Armstrong of Austin, president of the Bell County Kennel Club, said entries were limited to 1,000 dogs per day.

“We’re operating under some unusual circumstances,” he said.

Such things as the need for spacing and wearing of masks made the show a little more difficult, he said.

“There are a lot of professional handlers and also a lot of owner-handlers, and they do it just for the sport of it,” he said.

“Dog shows are very competitive,” he said. “What you’re trying to get is championship points. It’s bragging rights to have a championship dog.”

Most of the breeders at the show are responsible breeders, he said, meaning that they are careful to keep their dog healthy.

“They’re trying to improve the breed,” he said.

Marilyn Pipes, show chairman for the Stephenville club, said the exposition building was a beautiful facility.

“Having the right kind of venue, with air conditioning, concrete floors and the staff at the Expo, works well for dog shows to be successful,” she said.

Since many clubs have not been able to have shows due to COVID-19, exhibitors are eager to show, she said, hence the need to limit the number of dogs per day.

She and her husband began selling dogs in 1980, Pipes said, and she’s been judging since 2003. She had to fill in as a judge on Thursday and Friday.

Brian Livingston of Argyle, one of the professional handlers at the show, said he worked with about 20 dogs per day. A Papillon that he showed won Reserve Best in Show on Saturday, he said.

His parents showed horses and dogs when he was growing up, Livingston said.

“It got easier taking our dogs to shows, rather than our horses,” he said.

His sister, Colette Livingston of Sulphur Springs and his brother, Clint Livingston of Brighton, Colo., are also professional handlers and were at the show. Brian said they’ve all been showing dogs since they could walk. His wife, Lori, is also a professional dog handler.

“It’s our business,” he said.

He knows some of the dogs he handles in the show ring, he said.

“Some are trained,” he said. “Some we train as we go along. Some are puppies their first time out. Others we’ve been showing a couple of years.”

He travels all over the U.S. year round, he said.

“What greater career than to be paid to play with dogs,” he said.

Rick Fowler of Carrollton was packing up after showing his dog Scotty, who finished in the Winner’s category.

“She got breed points for it,” he said. “I had a great experience.”