Top Dogs

For the next four days, expect the sound of hair dryers to emanate from the backstage area of the Independence Events Center (19100 East Valley View Parkway, 816-795-7577) as handlers prepare more than a thousand models for a big strut. The “models” are dogs, among the best in the nation (in terms of breed standards sanctioned by the American Kennel Club). They come from the four-state area and beyond for the Heart of America Cluster Dog Shows, presented by the Leavenworth Kennel Club and the Heart of America Kennel Club. The shows are unbenched, meaning that exhibitors can come and go, rather than staying with their dogs at the venue all day. “I went to Westminster and took my girl last year,” says Heart of America director Katie Davis, who shows Yorkshire terriers. “She was really cute and perky in the morning, but by 8 o’clock at night, she was like grrr.” Trying to decide if you’re more of a Chihuahua person or a Rottweiler person? Davis recommends arriving early in the morning to ask the experts as they prep their pooches for the ring. Showing begins at 9 a.m. (8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday). Admission is $9.50 in advance or $12.50 at the door ($7.50 advance and $10.50 at the door for children ages 6 to 12).

March 18-21, 9 a.m., 2010