LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The top Basset hound in the United States will be crowned in the Rockford area this week as 200 dogs compete in the Basset Hound Club of America’s 2022 National Specialty at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two.

The club’s nine-day event kicked off Thursday, Sept. 29. When the competition wraps this Friday, dogs will have competed in numerous categories like agility, hunting, tracking, obedience, and showmanship. 

“This is run exactly like a dog show, except it is only for Bassets,” said Sharon Nance, the show’s co-ordinator and judge.

The overall winner will take home the Best of Breed blue ribbon. Several other ribbons will also be awarded, giving a handful of happy hounds the right to be called national champions.

“You’ll have Best of Opposite Sex, Second Best Dog, and Second Best Bitch,” Nance said. “Then, down from there, you’ll end up with five dogs that will get an award of merit.”

The BHCA was scheduled to have its 2020 show in Rockford after Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles closed but the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the competition. 

“We are finally hosting the Specialty Nationals,” said Lindsay Arellano, vice president of sales and service with the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Dogs from all over the country are competing, along with entries from Canada, Japan, and Mexico, Arellano said. 

The entry from Mexico, a dog named Lucky, is owned by Rodolfo Farias and could be the Basset to beat in this year’s field. 

Of the 40 Basset hounds Farias owns, Lucky is his most successful. 

“He was the number one all of the breeds in Mexico in 2021,” Farias said. “He’s the most (successful) Basset hound in the history of the breed in my country.”

There aren’t any cash prizes in this week’s competition, only bragging rights. Nance said dog owners aren’t in it for money. They enjoy the comradery, travel, and the chance to show off their elongated, floppy-earned companions.

“These are like their kids, their pride and joy,” she said.

The event is open to the public. Mercyhealth Sportscore Two is at 8800 E. Riverside Blvd, Loves Park.