Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 10:13 pm | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Huge Hounds Launch Lompoc’s Annual Four Days of Dog Shows

Specialty events Thursday and Friday precede all-breed shows at Ryon Park on Saturday and Sunday

Irish wolfhounds and their humans prepare to pose for a judge at  Lompoc’s Ryon Park.
Irish wolfhounds and their humans prepare to pose for a judge at Lompoc’s Ryon Park. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Distinctive howls of hounds sounded in Lompoc’s Ryon Park, signaling the annual arrival dogs and their humans competing for top honors in assorted shows. 

On Thursday, the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast hosted a specialty show for the enormous dogs as part of the Western Sighthound Combined Specialties, which continues Friday with other hounds.

Two days of all-breed shows hosted by the Lompoc Valley Kennel Club will fill the park Saturday and Sunday.

The hulking hounds hogged the park, taking turns showing off their skills before judge Sam Houston McDonald from Pennsylvania.

Standing waist high, wolfhounds posed for the judge, ran around the ring and tolerated having their mouths opened.

In all, more than 80 Irish wolfhounds competed Thursday with even more expected Friday. 

When not being put through their paces, dogs plopped down on the lawn under canopy tents or shade provided by trees.

Many of the owners competing have been to Lompoc year after year, reuniting with old friends who share their love of wolfhounds.

An Irish wolfhound, JoJo, rests her head on Laurie Mendiones’ legs while awaiting their turn in the competition at the Lompoc dog show in Ryon Park. Click to view larger
An Irish wolfhound, JoJo, rests her head on Laurie Mendiones’ legs while awaiting their turn in the competition at the Lompoc dog show in Ryon Park. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I love the social aspect,” said Laurie Mendiones of Fallbrook.

While competing is enjoyable, winning is even more fun, she said.

“Today it’s been great,” she said after one of her wolfhounds was tops in the winners bitch category.

Jamie Souza Bartlett of San Francisco is the third generation of her family to show wolfhounds which the family has owned for almost 40 years. 

After putting her dog Arthur through his skills, Corona resident Linda Randall returned him to the pen in the shade.

She began attending the Lompoc show for more than two decades after meeting a wolfhound while working a groomer.

“I just fell in love with the breed,” she said. “I just think they become part of the family more than most dogs.” 

Tehachapi residents Jack and Brenda Wright brought their wolfhound named Donovan, as they’re debating joining the sport. 

Jack Wright talks about his Irish wolfhound, Donovan, to visitors at Lompoc’s Ryon Park on Thursday. Click to view larger
Jack Wright talks about his Irish wolfhound, Donovan, to visitors at Lompoc’s Ryon Park on Thursday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Self-described newbies, the Wrights are getting tips about trimming Donovan’s fur for competition and more.

“We’re getting a lot of information,” Jack Wright said. 

On Friday, greyhounds, salukis and Scottish deerhounds will take the rings, while Saturday and Sunday will feature for breeds of all types.

It’s been a longstanding tradition in the Lompoc Valley to host the dog show, but that tradition may end soon.

“We’re going to definitely going to do it for one more year and then we’ll make a decision,” said Pete Desoto from the Lompoc Valley Kennel Club.

Competitors have lamented the declining participation in the sport.

Judge Sam Houston McDonald checks out an Irish wolfhound during competition at Lompoc’s Ryon Park. Click to view larger
Judge Sam Houston McDonald checks out an Irish wolfhound during competition at Lompoc’s Ryon Park. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Once attracting as many as 3,000 entries, this year’s number for the all-breed shows is less than 1,000, Desoto said.

Officials have estimated the dog shows bring $1.5 million to the Lompoc economy, he noted. That includes revenue from visitors staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants and buying from local stores.

The Lompoc Valley’s mild weather and location make it attractive for wolfhounds and other breeds with participants hoping the shows continue.

“We’d like to still be able to come here,” Texas resident Donna Drake, president of the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast. The club last year celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Corona resident Linda Randall  runs Arthur, 20 months old, in the Irish wolfhound specialty show at Lompoc’s Ryon Park on Thursday. Click to view larger
Corona resident Linda Randall runs Arthur, 20 months old, in the Irish wolfhound specialty show at Lompoc’s Ryon Park on Thursday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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