MISSOULA - The Five Valley Kennel Club is hosting its dog show at the Missoula Fairgrounds this week.
The American Kennel Club dog show had close to 600 dogs entered in the competition.
William Bratcher is a St. Bernard breeder in Florence. Winning his group, Bratcher tells his secret to success.
"Starting out with a good breed, with a good structure, temperament, and a lot of practice,” Bratcher said. “Training, training, training."
Bratcher's main dog is Ian, a 4½-year-old St. Bernard.
Ian is ranked as one of the very best in the country, and was invited to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York later this month.
Bratcher said that as a Five Valley Kennel Club member, he's happy to compete with the big dogs.
"It feels great to be back in the ring locally. This is my club and I want to represent as much as I can."
The show was canceled the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and kennel club member Anne Deister said members had a hard time believing it would ever happen again.
"It's a good feeling,” Deister said. “The club is very excited because we're finally back in the dog show."
Deister said the club has doubled in size since COVID-19 began, and for many of the handlers, this was their first competition.
"The demand for puppies was enormous during COVID. People were home, so they were there to house break them and train them and everything. And the demand hasn't let up."
The event continues until Sunday at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.