Top dogs strut their stuff at annual Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show

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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.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Albert Nishimoto shows his bulldog, Arrow, during the Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show on Friday, February 14, 2020. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

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.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Bailey, a four-month-old border terrier, plays with Rill, a two-and-a-half-year-old Irish wolfhound, during the Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show on Friday, February 14, 2020. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

“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.”

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Great danes prepare for action during the Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

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.”