ENID, Oklahoma— At the Sooner State Kennel Club dog show, it’s not always the dog in the ring that is judged. Sometimes their manager is the one in the hot seat.
That’s where 14-year-old Charisa Tullos found herself Saturday morning at the annual show, being held this weekend at the Garfield County Expo Center. The show, which is open to the public, runs until Sunday.
Due to an injury to his favorite partner, a whippet named Steve, Tullos was showing off a 5-year-old beagle named Coulson, who Tullos trainer Kris Hurley said “has opinions.”
Hurley said Coulson was allowed to make mistakes and the judge was watching Tullos to see if she recognized and corrected them. For example, Coulson thinks his foot should be forward, Tullos was seen in the ring putting him back in place.
“He likes pushing your buttons,” Hurley said of Coulson.
Tullos and Coulson finally passed the tests, as they were named the best in their class and the best reserved at the junior level, second only to Tullis’ good friend, Sydney Wills. The girls were all smiles as they waited for the judge so they could get individual portraits with their dogs, the judge and their ribbons – and sneak together to remember their victories.
Tullos is relatively new to the ring, since last summer. Saturday’s victory was his first in the new season, which began in September. Her best-in-class is one of five she needs to qualify for the Nationals in Orlando, Florida.
“I had a friend who invited me to a show when I was 13,” Tullos said.
She said they eventually ran out of a handler, and with five minutes’ notice she went into the show ring and was hooked.
“I started taking classes and really enjoyed it,” Tullos said.
She trains with Hurley, who is from Edmond and started showing off when she was Tullos’ age.
Showing a beagle was a different experience for Tullos, and it was only made possible this year thanks to the American Kennel Association and its sanctioned shows, one of which is the Sooner State Kennel Club show.
Hurley said handlers are now allowed to borrow a breed for show, allowing juniors to experience different dogs and see which they like best.
According to the AKC website, dogs must be owned by the handler or immediate family, but this year, through a year-long pilot program, juniors are allowed to eliminate that rule.
“It allows them to try out other dogs to find out where their passion lies,” Hurley said.
Despite his victory with the beagle Coulson, Tullos sees no break with his main dog Steve.
“Right now, I really like the whippet breed (to show),” Tullos said.
The Sooner State Kennel Club dog show begins at 8 a.m. Sunday for the four performance classes, conformation, obedience, agility and rally. The show lasts into the afternoon until the contests are over.
Admission to the show is free. Only dogs scheduled to compete are allowed in the show. Their humans can come anytime, and they won’t be judged.