Dogs putting their best paws forward

This year’s Columbus Kennel Club’s annual Fun Match, will offer a chance to see some breeds that aren’t often seen in the area.

The Fun Match begins with the 10 a.m. Saturday registration on the grounds of North Highland Assembly of God Church. The Canine Good Citizen tests ($10 in advance; $15 on the day of the show) and Microchip Clinic ($35) are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Blessing of the Animals by North Highland Pastor Dennis Lacey is around 11:15 a.m.

Conformation (how closely the dog comes to the breed standard) begins at noon ($6 in advance; $8 on the day of the show). The most talented dog and puppy contests ($3) begin 30 minutes later.

Max, Coton de Tulear, a member of the toy group and not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club, has been recognized by the Continental Kennel Club. The Coton de Tulear, is the official dog of Madagascar. Locally, Ene Pate owns Max, and says he loves cats. And like most Coton de Tulear, Max is friendly and affectionate.

Another unusual breed is the Bouvier de Flandres. This large dog is native to Belgium and is often known as the Belgian cattle dog. Even though this breed may look threatening to some, it’s really an even-tempered dog that’s good with children. Coal, owned by Nancy Valaske, is not only a show dog, but a family pet and Valaske’s guard dog. She says if he perceives a threat, he’ll get between Valaske and the other person or animal.

The third rare breed in the area is the Portuguese Water Dog. This breed has been gaining attention since President Barack Obama’s family adopted Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog. Locally, Hanna will appear at the Fun Match. She’s owned by Marilu Novy, who also owns Jackson, the No. 4 Portuguese Water Dog in the country. Jackson will compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February.