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Dog shows can be serious business, and not just for people presenting their animals before the judges.

The Covered Bridge Cluster Dog Shows, held at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, brings in an estimated $1 million in economic impact for the Albany area during their four-day run, said Harvey Mohrenweiser, show chairman for the Linn County Kennel Club.

That club coordinated the event with the McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers.

More than 2,200 dogs from 29 states and Canada packed the expo center  Saturday, Mohrenweiser said. About 60 percent of the entries were from outside Oregon, and canines came from as far away as Florida and New York.

“This is one of the largest shows along the I-5 corridor. … You can’t find a hotel room for this weekend (in Albany),” he added.

According to the American Kennel Club, exhibitors at dog shows spend an average of $512 per show per weekend.

And Albany has become something of a hotbed for events, with five national specialty shows held at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center within the last year, Mohrenweiser said.

Mohrenweiser said he knew of 10 to 15 handlers in attendance Saturday who took part in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City last week.

Lisa Hopper Stewart of McMinnville, a 1994 graduate of South Albany High School, said it was neat to see professional handlers at events. She was getting ready to show Ember, a five-month-old vizsla, in the puppy portion of the show. 

Besides the traditional dog show, the Covered Bridge Cluster Dog Shows include agility, obedience and rally trials.

“We go to one of these almost every weekend,” said Robin Kletke of Woodinville, Washington, after taking Zinger, an Afghan hound, through an agility course.

Debi Runyen of Milwaukie said she takes Mia, her pug, to shows about two or three times a month.

“It’s so much fun with your dogs, the connection you have,” she added, after running an agility course.

The humans like socializing with each other, as well, and the dogs have fun, too, said Paula Ratoza of Portland, who ran an agility course with Lambert, her Doberman pinscher.

“If you look out there, they all have smiles on their faces. They love it,” Ratoza added.

The Covered Bridge Cluster Dog Shows continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Monday at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. Admission is free, but parking is $5 per vehicle. 

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard. 

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