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Canines and handlers alike strut their stuff at Great Fort Myers Dog Show

By Staff | May 17, 2009

Dog fanciers are not to be taken lightly. They travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to showcase their beloved pooches, and usually do so at their own expense.
Often, they don’t win at shows and competitions – like the Greater Fort Myers Dog Show held at the Lee Civic Center over the weekend – but that doesn’t matter. It only makes them want to go farther, push harder, do whatever it takes to crown their dog number one.
“Its exciting and frustrating at the same time,” said Bart Cintro, who brought his 13 month old Harlequin Great Dane, Bailey, from Pinellas County. “It really is like watching your child succeed or fail.”
Though Bailey did not win in the Great Dane competition, it did little to dampen Citro’s spirit. He already has the next show, in Orlando, in his sites and he also hopes to use Bailey’s good nature to soothe kids in hospitals and trauma wards.
“I like getting her out and showing her, but I also want to teach her to be a therapy dog,” he said. “She’s so gentle … she would be great.”
While impressive, Bailey was one of hundreds of breeds of dogs that turned out for the competition. Indeed, all shapes and sizes were represented, with pomeranians strutting proudly alongside giants like Bailey.
Fort Myers Dog Club member Charlene Ewam said the show has become a tradition in Lee County, sitting alongside the Edison Parade of Lights as one of the longest running Lee County events.
Showing off her Cesky Terriers, Ewam said the show really draws people from all around the southeastern United States, and sometimes beyond. Ewam herself is prepping to attends shows and competitions in Illinois, California and Pennsylvania in the coming months.
Along with her Dog Club duties, Ewam also serves as president of the American Cesky Terriers Fanciers Association.
“I’ve been involved (with showing) since the ’70s. Its a lot of fun, a sport,” Ewam said. “I enjoy the camaraderie, too. It’s a community. I have a lot of long-time friends.”
Its hard to know why certain people are attracted to certain breeds. Often, owners will stick with a particular breed for decades, often becoming synonymous with their favorite pooches.
During Marylin Gilley’s 30 years of working with Afghan Hounds, she found herself “hooked” to long haired dogs, and the thrill of competing.
“I just love the breed,” Gilley said, who also won an Afghan Hound Breeder’s Cup. “I got hooked and just stayed with it.”