SCARBOROUGH – Lorraine Briggs worked assiduously with Sierra, taking the 2-year-old German shepherd through her paces, getting the commands down and rewarding the dog for her performance.

The task? Not some high-stakes search-and-rescue training, a tracking exercise or even a game of fetch.

It was musical beds.

Saturday was that kind of day for about 100 dogs and the 200 or so people they brought along to Camp Ketcha for the fifth annual Woofminster Amateur Dog Show, put on by the Planet Dog Foundation.

The “show” is really a collection of games and off-beat contests, such as competitions for “best beggar,” “happiest dog” and “best mystery mutt.” Planet Dog — the Portland-based pet products company with the logo, “Think Globally, Act Doggedly” — even selects a cover dog at the show to grace some of its publications.

The games include a limbo contest for dogs, this year divided up into two classes, so big dogs don’t have to go up against the little ones to get underneath the ever-lowering bar; a 50-paw dash; and a canine obstacle course. There was even a “kissing booth,” where a smooch from a dog could be had for $1.

Briggs and Sierra decided to work on musical beds before the contest actually started, with Briggs taking her well-trained friend from dog bed to dog bed and having her get on each one, so she’d be ready to claim a spot when the music stopped.

The training paid off, with Sierra winning her elimination heat, although she finished third in the final, with Briggs caught between two beds when the music ceased.

Briggs said she felt the practice was needed because Sierra’s bed at home is a bit larger than the ones strewn on the grass at Camp Ketcha and because Sierra doesn’t take naturally to the idea of heading off to sleep — or just lying down — in the middle of the day.

“If she hears anything that might be endangering us, like a chipmunk, she’s all over it,” Briggs said.

Last year, Woofminster raised $4,000 from tickets, raffles, vendors fees and other activities. This year’s recipient of the proceeds is Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the organization that pairs puppies with families who raise them until they are ready to become companions and helpers for the visually impaired, said Kristen Smith, executive director of the Planet Dog Foundation.

Smith said the families who raise the dogs get some help financially from the foundation but have to pay for some items out of their own pockets, such as monthly heartworm and flea and tick medicine. The money raised this year will help offset that cost, she said. 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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