Don't hate them because they're beautiful.
Yes, thousands of impeccably bred and incredibly groomed dogs have descended on the Kentucky Horse Park for the Bluegrass Classic Dog Show.
But beauty takes work, even the canine variety.
"It's not as easy as it looks," said Sarah Congleton, 15, who shows an English springer spaniel. "There are many, many hours of grooming and bathing."
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The spaniel's show name is Champion Magnolia Diamond, but those closest to him call him Deuce.
"We frequent Sally's (beauty supply store) quite a bit," said Jan George, who shows her Shelties with her husband, William Larrick. "We are always trying new things to see what works best for us."
Their dogs are Carmyli Makeit Allterrain, or Rock, and Carmyli Paint the Sky, or Corey.
The process that ends with healthy, flawless coats bouncing in the show ring starts shortly after the puppies are born.
"They have to be OK with somebody rubbing their hand from the top of their tails to the bottom of their tail," said Kathy Weaver, who shows Great Danes and clumber spaniels with her husband, Randy. "They are puppies when we start that process. They have to get used to strangers putting their hands all over them."
Each bred has its own challenges when it comes to the show ring. And each handler has his or her way of doing things. For George, a show week begins on Monday with a bath and a trim. That way, she said, "you can do a little bit of work and see what it looks like.
"It has a chance to grow if you make a terrible mistake," she said.
At the Congleton home, the night before a show, the springer spaniel will get a "half bath" for his feathers, hocks and ears. That includes a good sudsing with Biolage shampoo, the human kind, and a good hair whitener. Then, a special canine blow dryer forces the water off the long hair and helps keep it straight. After that, a towel is pinned, cape fashion, around the dog to maintain the style.
Sarah's brother Tanner, 14, also blow-dries his golden retriever, Mariner Maplegrove Hurricane, and adds volumizing spray to make the hair "stand up and look fluffy." That can take an hour and a half.
Perfection isn't easy. Packing for a show trip includes bringing tables, blow-dryers, grooming equipment, even a doggy first-aid kit that includes hydrogen peroxide, tweezers bandages and first-aid cream.
But that's nothing compared to what the Weavers tote to shows. They have a specially designed dog van with linoleum floors, air conditioning, a backup generator and an alarm system to alert them that the backup generator is in use.
"We have a pager you wear, and it will beep you," she said. Without it, she said, "it would be like leaving a child in a car."
She knows that seems like a lot. "We could have had a Jaguar," Weaver said with a laugh, "but this is our passion."
Getting their dog, Avant-Weaver Euttoffee, or Faye, ready for the Bluegrass Classic began with an über pedicure. A Dremel tool, a motorized rotary grinder, is used to trim the 120-pound dog's nails. Then, it's time for a bath. The Weavers operate a kennel, so that job is made a bit easier by their own bathroom. Then there are finishing touches, including trimming the errant whiskers around the eyes and ears.
There is not much to do with the short-haired coat; "we call them a wash-and-wear breed," Weaver said. They might do some special trimming along the ridge of the spine to make the dog look particularly straight.
Even at the event, the dogs take special care. To keep the large animals cool, Weaver said, she soaks shammies in ice water and drapes them over the dogs shortly before they enter the ring. Plus, she said, she keeps a rag handy to wipe the slobber from the dogs as they trot before the judges.
Can all this work push people to spy on the competition to ferret out the best techniques?
That might be true of other breeds, she said, but "Great Dane people aren't like that."