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Phalyn Crosby

Kenny Crosby and his 7-year-old daughter Sutton are new to showing dogs in Conformation, but they’re just getting started. They’d only been showing for about three months when they showed their Plott Hounds at the 2023 AKC National Championship, but once they got involved in the dog sport community, they knew they’d found a home there.

Not only is it something that they can do together, but doing conformation allows the Glen Saint Mary, Florida family to bring awareness to their breed in a more public space. They’re found a community within their breed, and in the conformation space as a whole, despite having been involved less than six months.

Getting Started in Dog Shows as a Family

The Crosbys have always been a dog-loving family. Long before they had Plott Hounds, they had various types of coonhounds, and participated in hunting with them. “I always had dogs growing up, and then started hunting with dogs,” Kenny says. “It just kind of grew from there.”

While Kenny showed their 9-month-old Plott Hound, Sutton showed their older dog, who she co-owns. To Kenny, conformation was a natural next step in his family’s journey with their dogs. “The conformation side of things has to be there no matter what,” he says.

They started showing together, and so far, haven’t done a single show without one another. “[Sutton] expressed an interest. I already had the interest, but I never knew how to start showing,” Kenny says.

The AKC National Championship stage is easily the largest they’ve competed on. The largest dog show in the United States, the 2023 show saw 5,700 dogs compete – and that’s just in Conformation. “The arena is enormous,” Kenny says. “We’re used to these smaller kind of shows in Ocala, so the magnitude of how big this is definitely hit. But I think we took it well.”

Melissa Olund

Instant Community for Father and Daughter

Getting involved in something new is always easier when you’re doing it with someone you love. For Sutton and her dad, doing conformation together only makes the experience more fun, and Kenny says that they both really enjoy doing it together.

“Through our breeder and mentor, we got involved,” Kenny says. “She was kind of like, this is what we need to do, and let’s do it. She got us both going.” Their mentor had them come to her home, where she began to train them.

They did a few sessions together before getting started, doing their first dog show at the World Cress Center in Ocala, Florida. “That was kind of our icebreaker for both her and I, showing dogs that were already kind of experienced,” he says. “Then, we just kept going. Since then, it’s been weekend after weekend after weekend.”

Practice for Junior Showmanship

Sutton is already putting her feelers out for the world of dog shows, despite being a few years early to the eligible age of Junior Showmanship, which begins at age 9 and goes until age 18.

Even at 7 years old, Sutton already often gives her dad a run for his money. “She beats me!” Kenny says. “She’s beat me several times.”

The community has not only rallied around them, but Kenny says they’ve shown incredible support to Sutton in getting her started. “The amount of support and the people that have kind of gathered around her and encouraged her has been just awesome,” Kenny says.

Phalyn Crosby

Representing a Rare Breed

“There’s definitely a place for purebred dogs and preserving the breeds [in Conformation],” Kenny says. “And our breed is kind of a more rare breed.” Ranking in the bottom 30 dogs on the most popular breeds list out of over 200 breeds, Plott Hounds, recognized in 2006, are often confused with other dogs, even at events like the AKC National Championship. Kenny says that this exposure will only do the breed favors as their numbers grow.

“They’re a phenomenal hunting dog,” Kenny says. “They’re also very stable around the home, and we just really enjoy them as dogs.”

Kenny and Sutton hope to continue showing their dogs, getting Sutton involved in Junior Showmanship when she’d old enough. “We found a community within dog showing and within our breed that’s just so welcoming,” Kenny says. “We’ve had a really good experience.”