Cooper, who turned 2 years old last month, is a standard wire-haired dachshund. Dillon Conod of Tillsonburg, who has been showing Cooper for the past year-and-a-half, says Cooper is still relatively young, and at 14 years of age, Conod is "extremely young" to be showing dogs.
"I was the only teenager showing in the hound group," he noted, thrilled to win a Best of Group at the London Canadian Association Inc.'s event at the Tillsonburg Kinsmen Memorial Arena.
The non-profit London Canine Association Inc., the oldest kennel club in Canada, hosted its annual three-day, four-show on July 11-13. LCA is an all-breed club with conformation, obedience, rally and hospital visitation dogs. Its members include breeders, trainers and owners.
LCA had moved its show to the Tillsonburg Special Events Centre from 2007-2011, then switched to the Memorial Arena in 2012. Each show on last weekend had about 250-300 participants, said organizers. Dogs representing about 170 breeds came from as far as the southern USA, some from Quebec.
There was local and area representation, including Tillsonburg's Conod who showed Cooper, his standard wire-haired dachshund, in the hound group.
"Every dog that won their class – there's usually 15-20 breeds per class – goes into one gigantic group," said Conod. "Then the winner of that group moves on to Best of Show."
There are seven groups, including the hounds, working dogs, sporting dogs, non-sporting, terriers, toys, and herding group.
Cooper and Conod won the hound group Sunday, and placed third both days at the group level Friday and Saturday.
"The thing that elevated me Sunday, compared to the other two days, was judging," he said. "This judge (on Sunday) understands the breed... He (Connor) performed exceptionally well each day."
It marked the first time Cooper has qualified for Best of Show.
"It was a very emotional time because Cooper and I worked and strived really hard for that win. It took us about a year-and-a-half to get it, so I was very happy, extremely happy."
Dillon's family, owners of Whisper Hill Kennel which breeds Great Danes and German Shepherds, have shown dogs for many years, but he didn't get into showing until 2013. At first, he was just interested in promoting the standard wire-haired dachshund breed.
"I've always loved the breed," he said. "Their temperament, it's really lovely. There's three varieties of dachshund, smooth, long and wire-hairs. Wire-hairs have terrier in them, so they're not afraid of anything, but they're the most playful and energetic dachshund and they're just lovely dogs. I just automatically fell in love with it."
Conod attended more shows last year, but has had more success this year, reflecting the growth of both Cooper and Dillon.
"This year, around 10 shows, mostly in Ontario."
Dillon and Cooper first 'met' in Ohio.
"I went to learn more about the breed from a breeder, and I just wanted him – or any dog from the breed – as a pet. But I ended up getting him because thought he would promote better up in Canada, and she wanted to get her kennel name out there. So I agreed to it... but I never thought I'd get as far as I did."
Not a current member of London Canine Association, Conod does plan to join.
"You can show your dog as long as you want, until the day they die really, but you'd like to show them until they've done a lot, and won a lot. I would retire him around age five."