Calling all dogs

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds, along with their dog lovers, are invited to the second annual Oakminster Dog Show, to be held Sunday, April 27, at the Oakhurst Community Park.

This fundraiser is sponsored by the Oakhurst Mountain Lions Club, with all proceeds benefitting the Eastern Madera County SPCA. The day begins at 9 a.m., for those who have not pre-registered. At 10:30 the obedience trials begin, and an hour later, the conformation (physical appearance) competition starts.

'Your dog can have three legs or an eye missing, and can still participate,' Gail Hawksworth, a Lions Club member, who has been training dogs publicly and showing dogs since 1990 explained. 'I wanted to have a dog show that would be fun for all the participants — both handlers and four-leggeds, as well as the spectators.' The day is broken up into two separate competitions. The obedience competition involves commands, such as heeling, standing for examination, long sit and long down on leash.

During the conformation (physical appearance) competition, judges are looking for clean and well-groomed dogs, who are approachable and touchable. The dogs must also walk on a leash with their handlers.

'Basically, that's all the dog is judged on in conformation,' Hawksworth said. 'Even if your dog becomes distracted, it's okay — the dog won't be eliminated from the competition for that.'

Giving every dog the opportunity to strut 'their stuff and feel like a winner' is Hawksworth's goal.

'Oakminster is for all mountain dogs — big or small, mixed breeds, purebreds, it doesn't matter. Other than wolf or coyote hybrids, all are welcome. It really isn't about winning. The event provides a setting in which your dog can become more socialized and better trained — all in a fun and entertaining way.'

The concept of Oakminster, a spin-off of the Westminster Dog Show, came into existence quite innocently and naturally.

'I've been invited to Westminster a couple of times,' Hawksworth explained, 'but have never made it to New York. I won't fly with my dogs, so I drive. But I only make it about halfway before having to turn around because of bad weather. So my friend, Liz, asked me why I didn't put on my own dog show, right here in Oakhurst — for all dogs, excluding show dogs.'

As a result, at the first-ever Oakminster held last year, there were about 50 people, with 47 dogs participating in the competitions. Hawksworth would like to see that number double this year.

In addition to the competitions, there will be booth vendors, and the Lions Club will sell hot dogs, nachos and drinks. There will also be raffle prizes.

Entry fees for obedience competition: pre-registration is $10 per dog or $15 the day of event. Entry fees for conformation competition are the same as obedience. Pre-registration forms are available online at; or at The Cat's Meow, and Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply.

The event rules and regulations are:

No dogs pointed or titled with AKC, International, National or any competing organizations (exception is ring practice for a $10 fee at day of show).

No bitches in season.

Intact (not neutered) males over one year of age must be handled by adult handler minimum of 21 years of age.

No aggressive or uncontrollable dogs allowed. Any dogs behaving in an aggressive or disruptive manner will be ejected from the show grounds.

No prong collars or muzzles.

Dogs entered into obedience must use a 6-foot leash. All other dogs must use a 4-6 foot leash, no chains or ropes.

Any handlers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian; and no handlers younger than 9 years old.

No wolf or coyote hybrids.

Anyone wanting to donate a raffle item, vendors wanting booth space ($25 fee) or for anyone needing other information: Gail Hawksworth, (559) 658-5631.