The 26th annual River City Cluster of Dog Shows started it’s four day long competitions Thursday in San Antonio.

      More than 2,000 representing more than 165 American Kennel Club (AKC) breeds will be attending with their breeders and handlers for a chance to win trophies, ribbons and bragging rights.

     Those attending say dog shows are an expensive ‘hobby’ to maintain.

      “It’s competitive, if you’re not competitive you wont win,” said one woman attending with her three dogs.  “People may not admit it but they pamper their dogs quite a bit… if they’re not papered dogs than they’re not show dogs.”

      And pamper they do. From gourmet meals, to memory foam dog beds, to even portable air conditions, owners will spare no expense to make sure their dogs win.

     “I like bling so I bought a couple of bling hair bows…. I’m not sure if they will help her win but they’re beautiful,” one woman said about her shih tzu’s hair broach. “Pretty much anything I use on my hair I’ll use on theirs… I want the best products for them.”

      Winning is priority for the majority of those participating in the dog shows. And to make sure the legacy of their dog’s champion bloodlines never go extinct, a new trend has grown widely popular during each show, canine semen banks.

      “People want to keep perpetuating that good blood line for their dog so they take [the semen] and they freeze it and they store it,” said Mary Ellen Shook, one of the Directors on the board for the River City Cluster of Dog Shows.  “Then 10 years down the road, if they want they can bring out ‘old bully’ again. Even though he’s been long gone and they can go and have those pretty puppies again.”

      These animals become special members of our family, there’s a great pride in showing them and breeding them, Corky Turner a ring steward at the show said.

      “They’re like babies you wouldn’t just hire anyone to help with or train them,” he continued. “We want what’s best for them.”