International Heart Classic makes dog show experience virtual

International Heart Classic (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for American Heart Association )
International Heart Classic (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for American Heart Association ) /

The International Heart Classic is a new dog show experience designed for a good cause.

Because of COVID-19, the dog sports world shut down around mid-March, and has pretty much stayed that way since. While dock diving is still going, dog shows have been halted for the forseeable future. That’s where the International Heart Classic comes in.

The International Heart Classic Virtual Dog Show was created by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of its Healthy Bond for Life program, which seeks to educate people about the health benefits, both physical and mental, that come from owning and caring for a pet, typically a cat or dog. (Here at Dog O’Day, we love both.) This will be the first time the event has been held.

So as as virtual dog show, the competitors will film a video of the handler and the dog as if they were in the show ring, and then upload it online, where it will be judged and the announcements known through the International Heart Classic event page on Facebook. Registration and video uploads are submitted through the Executive Dog Shows website.

Entry fees are $20 plus a $3 service fee, and registration closes on Sunday, July 5.

There will be three classes: Puppy (6-18 months), Adult (18 months and up) and Veteran (6 years and up), with the typical seven categories of the Herding, Hound, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Toy and Working Groups.

Group judging will take place on Saturday, July 18 with the Best in Show winner being announced on Sunday, July 19.

To be eligible, a dog must be purebred (sorry mixed breeds), and registered with the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, or the FCI (the worldwide governing body, like FIFA in soccer).

Five percent of the entry fees gathered will be donated to the AKC Canine Health Foundation, up to a maximum of $5,000.

Major sponsors of the event include the AHA, Purina Pro Plan and The Canine Chronicle magazine, with the Lone Star State Classic cluster (a twice-yearly event held in Dallas) also playing a vital role.

AKC judge and all-around dog expert David Frei hosted an interview to promote the event, as well as general heart health, on Thursday, June 25 on The Canine Chronicle‘s Facebook page, talking with attorney and TV personality Star Jones, one of the original hosts of the ABC talk show The View.

Jones is a survivor of heart disease and heart surgery, and so has a service dog in a Maltese named MeMe, who also made an extended guest appearance during the interview. Jones talked about MeMe’s tasks, which include making sure she stays active and providing comfort when necessary.

Women, especially, can be prone to overlooking their health needs, as Jones noted: “We can be lying on the floor having a coronary, but we’re worrying over whether the kitchen’s clean!”

Frei and Jones also chatted about their previous dogs who have gone over the rainbow bridge; Jones reminisced about her first service dog Pinky, while Frei mentioned that the loss of his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Angel this past winter had healed enough that a new Cav puppy, Angel 2.0, had been brought into the family.

Since 80 percent of heart disease is preventable due to proper lifestyle decisions, the AHA recommends 150 minutes of active exercise per week, which breaks down to about half an hour five days per week. That number is easily achievable, particularly if you’re going for a walk with your dog or chasing her around the backyard.

While Jones noted that the reason she thinks people love dogs is because “they’re innocent, loving, and they always care about you,” Frei was more pragmatic in his reasoning on this point: “My dogs love me because I know how to work the can opener.”

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Again, the International Heart Classic Virtual Dog Show can be followed on Facebook July 18-19. Please consider liking the Dog O’Day social media pages; we’re on Facebook at Daily Dog and on Instagram at the handle @DogODayFS.