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Meet Dex, a small, black, tailless schipperke. “He’s a very nice dog — a very sweet disposition,” says his owner, Leo Cherne, of Bothell.

Dex, after three years of agility training, also is a fine jumper, but never before had he performed in front of so many people. At the start of his agility-course run Saturday, Dex took a wrong turn, heading straight for the A-frame obstacle rather than the dog-walk beam.

“He didn’t do a very good job,” said a disappointed Cherne afterward. His wife, Dawn Barkans, consoled him by noting that Dex seemed to be a crowd favorite.

“You know, he did the last part really well — and the weave poles,” widely regarded as the hardest part of the agility competition — posed no problem, Cherne said, cheering up.

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“You did good,” he assured Dex, unfazed, in his arms.

Dex was one of about 1,700 dogs representing 156 breeds entered into competition at the 75th annual Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show, which began Saturday and continues Sunday at CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Participants do not compete for cash prizes, but rather points toward championship status on the American Kennel Club circuit. “It’s a hobby,” Cherne said, “a way to be with your pet.”

Labrador retrievers were the most-represented breed, with 48, followed by papillons, 41, and Australian shepherds, 38. Among the rare breeds in attendance were a Belgian laekenois, miniature American shepherds and Peruvian Inca orchids.

The show — which drew a crowd of more than 4,000 people Saturday — also includes dozens of vendors, more than 60 education booths and an opportunity to talk to breeders.

Parents Kim and Will Knudsvig, of Bothell, brought their 8-month-old son, Elijah, to see about getting a new pet. They want a vizsla, a sporting dog known as a loyal household companion, and met a breeder.

“We’re thinking about getting a dog, right around the time he says, ‘I want a dog,’ ” said Kim Knudsvig, carrying Elijah in a baby front pack. For once, she said, he wasn’t the center of attention.

“Usually, people are like, ‘Oh, there’s a baby!’ And here it’s all about the dogs. He doesn’t mind, though,” she said. “He loves the dogs.”

Nearby in Ring 8, a so-called conformation show was under way for Old English sheepdogs. That’s where judges look for an ideal version of a breed, checking everything from the texture of their coat to the arch of their tail.

Pie, a 13-month-old sheepdog from Bainbridge Island, performed well in the first go-round. But Mother Nature came calling — Pie had to pee — and he barked at the end. He wound up losing to his uncle, Mojo.

Even so, owners Kathy and Louie Coffman, of Bainbridge Island, threw up their arms in celebration. Pie’s performance was good enough to earn the first two of 15 points needed for an American Kennel Club championship.

“He’s a dog,” said Louie Coffman, a reluctant participant whose purchase of Pie from a breeder in December requires him to enter shows. “It’s sort of the definition of insanity. We go into these shows and never win.

“But today,” he cheered, “we got points!”

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or

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