No amount of brushing seemed to tame young Simba’s coat. Wet, mud-sloshed, and wonderfully happy, the one-year-old Labrador could barely stand still beneath the shelter set up at the Putharikandam Maidanam where the All India All Breeds Championship organised by the Trivandrum Kennel Club was under way. Sidan, a German Shepherd that was standing beside him, was not impressed by the pup’s antics and looked on, bored, giving out an occasional growl.

Simba’s master, Deepu, who lives near Vattiyoorkavu, abandoned his efforts to groom the pup before it was his turn to pose before the judges.

“I have been to plenty of dog shows before, but this is the first time here. There are people here who train their pets for months just to win a ribbon at one of these shows, but Simba here was coached for two days,” says Deepu, looking endearingly at his dog. He was one of the few individual owners who competed as there were several breeding centres from across the State that attended the function with their dogs.

Around 207 dogs belonging to a range of breeds had their gait and appearance examined by two judges who came from outside the State to evaluate all the categories. Derrick Seow Namsoon from Malaysia and Javinder Singh Pawar from Bangalore are veterans in the field of judging pedigree dogs, carefully watching each animal and assessing their features before awarding them the top prize.

“Every breed has one perfect textbook description. We study its gait, the physical characteristics and stance and award the dogs here that come closest to that description,” Mr. Jasvinder told The Hindu during the brief lunch break.

Unusual as it is for this side of the world to see Saint Bernards and even one Siberian Husky, there were all there for this year’s annual dog show. The canines competed under six categories: the Toy group that included Pomeranians, Pugs and Chihuahuas; the Utility group of Bull Dogs and Lhasa Apsos; the Hound group that included Beagles and Dachshunds; the Gundog category for Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters, the Working group that includes a large number of breeds such as Boxers, Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs and the crowd favourite – the Pastoral category for German Shepherds.

While the water-loving Labradors revelled in the rain, few owners did complain about the setting describing it as not really abiding by standards set by the Kennel Club of India. Considering how some of these prized possessions lived pampered air-conditioned lifestyles, venturing out into the rain and trudging through puddles was out of question.

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