Connell Bell of Medford, Oregon, shows Moraig during the show Friday put on by the Irishwolfhound Assocation of the West Coast. Lompoc is hosting four days of dog shows, including two all-breed shows Saturday and Sunday at Ryon Park. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Dog show judge Michelle Quesada is worried about the future of the sport she loves.

Quesada sat under a canopy tent in Lompoc’s Ryon Memorial Park on Friday afternoon, where Irish wolfhounds and their handlers competed in a ring nearby.

“This is a declining fancy,” the Corona resident said. “We need to make sure that we’re sharing the love and passion we have with other people so they can come and enjoy what we do.”

She judged the junior handler category Friday at specialty show hosted by the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast. 

Following two days of Western Sighthound Combined Specialties competition, the Lompoc Valley Kennel Club’s all all-breed dog shows will take place Saturday and Sunday at Ryon Park. 

But Friday was all about huge hounds that filled the park, taking shelter in the shade of their owners’ canopy tents or under trees.  

Quesada, like others at the park, expressed concern about the Lompoc Valley Kennel Club’s future after next year, and urged the community to rally to help keep the shows.

She has been involved in the sport for so long that a former junior competitor was showing dogs as an adult Friday.

She also pointed to a teenage girl walking an Irish wolfhound as a first-time junior competitor.

Irish wolfhounds and their handlers stand for a last look by the judge Friday at Ryon Memorial Park in Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“It’s her first time showing a wolfhound; she did an excellent job.,” Quesada said of San Luis Obispo 13-year-old Kate Maddaloni. “She is the future of the fancy,”

“That’s what we need,” added Patricia Tennyson Bell, an Irish wolfhound owner.

The teenager, who handled 4-year-old Kismet, owned by Melinda Chaney of Paso Robles, captured an award of merit.

“It’s an excellent award,” Chaney added. “I’m very pleased.”

Across the park, Ione resident Mandy Tyler estimated she has participated in the Lompoc shows for 20 years.

“I bet it’s more than that really,” she said. 

This week, she brought six Irish wolfhounds to Lompoc along with daughter Chandler Tyler, who showed several of the dogs.

Needless to say, they didn’t arrive in compact car. Instead, she said, they travel with a trailer pulled by a van that has all but the front seats removed.

“And the rest of the van is theirs,” Tyler said. 

In addition to their large size, Irish wolfhounds are known for their gentle personalities.

“There’s no other breed that touches your heart,’” Quesada said. 

In addition to rings for competition and tents sheltering canines and their owners, Ryon Park has several vendors offering everything a pampered pooch’s owner could need.

Davis Animal Products touted bait, colorful leads, steel bowls and buckets, and a broad selection of shampoo, conditioner and detangler, all for four-legged competitors. 

“And of course we carry the ever popular pooper scoopers,” said Bobbi Davis of the Perris-based business.

They also have hair dryers and very expensive combs and brushes, ranging  from $30 to $150.

“Dog people like to keep their dogs clean, good smelling and in good health,” Davis said. “We try to help them along those lines.”

They travel to dozens of shows annually, and plan to be at the 108th and 109th Santa Barbara Kennel Club shows planned for Aug. 22 and 23 at Earl Warren Showgrounds, in addition to the Los Encinos Kennel Club Dog Show on Aug. 24, also at Earl Warren.

The Santa Barbara County shows attract competitors from throughout California plus several from out of state. 

Davis rejected talk that the Lompoc shows may have a limited future, noting the location, weather and people make it a popular event.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.