Minutes before taking his turn in the ring at the Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show, Maverick’s owner put the finishing touches on his bushy eyebrows and drooping mustache.
The brown wirehaired pointing griffon patiently sat at his grooming station as his owner, Steve Cowell, brushed him down, using several combs and a can of hair spray to groom his prize-winning dog. But, Maverick is a dog, after all, and as soon as Cowell finished, he shook his head, messing up the meticulous work.
“These are pampered dogs,” Cowell said as he started over.
The Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show kicked off Thursday, featuring dogs of every age, size and color of canine, including some that competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show less than a week ago. Maverick is among the dogs who were invited to Westminster, but decided not to make the trip.
The dog show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the National Western Complex. The show is free, but parking costs $15. Dogs will be competing in breed competitions, dock diving, barn hunts and flyball.
Maverick is the third-best male wirehaired pointing griffon in the United States and a two-time Westminster invitee, Cowell said. Ranked eighth in the nation in lifetime achievements, Maverick is what’s known as a gold champion, which is the highest level a show dog can aspire to. Although Maverick was bred to meet his breed’s standard, Cowell never thought he’d own a show dog.
“If you would’ve told me nine years ago I would be in dog shows, I would’ve said you’re out of your mind,” Cowell said. He attended the CKC Dog Show nine years ago looking for a border collie or an Australian shepherd, but when he stumbled upon wirehaired pointer griffons, he was hooked.
“The dog looked up at me with its big, brown eyes, and that was it,” Cowell said.
Research led him to a breeder in Shingle Springs, California, where he found Maverick, who was just 10 months old. Seven years later, the pair has traveled to 14 states and competed alongside champions, yet they save time each day to take walks together.
“We walk four to six miles a day. I’m a pretty active person,” Cowell said. “I ended up hitting the jackpot. Not only did I find the best dog for me and my lifestyle, but he turned out to be tremendous in the way he looks.”
Looks help when you’re in the running for best in show. Although Maverick did not take home a ribbon in this show, Cowell said it doesn’t take away from Maverick’s achievements.
“I like to think of baseball,” Cowell said. “If a batter hits a ball once every three games, he’s good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. Today was not our day, but tomorrow is another day and another show.”
Puppies also will be competing over the weekend. Maci, a 10-month-old white Hungarian puli, will aim to be the best of her breed. In October, she won best puppy in Greeley’s National Specialty dog show.
“She does enjoy the ring. I’m very lucky that way,” said Maci’s owner, Carol Zamperini. “She has a lot of human qualities. She can lose her temper. She’s growing up still.”
Maci gets her show qualities from her father, whose name also is spelled Maci, but is pronounced Maht-zi.[cq comment=”CQ”. Zamperini traveled in 1998 to Hungary to get the father. He earned two herding titles and two obedience titles before he died. In 2003, Zamperini collected the male dog’s semen so he could sire litters, and his offspring Maci was born in April in a litter of three females, which is rare.
Maci is showing classic puli qualities, such as loyalty and intelligence, Zamperini said.
“Pulis have a great personality,” Zamperini said. “They want to be with the flock, and people are their flock.”