The woman and her daughter approached Mike Anderson tentatively Saturday afternoon.

"Excuse me," she said. "What is that?"

Anderson, sitting in the middle of the National Dog Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Montgomery County, looked up and deadpanned.

"A dog," he replied before cracking a huge smile. "He's a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever."

At that, Willie, the 3-year-old pooch, wagged his brown tail and sniffed the woman's hand.

Willie was one of nearly 2,000 dogs which competed in the National Dog Show on Saturday. The show, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, is one of the last benched dog shows in the U.S., which means the arena is open to the public - they can meet and learn about the dogs and their owners, according to a show press release.

The expo was filled with dogs and dog enthusiasts. Pups are assigned to one of seven groups: Terrier, Toy, Working, Sporting, Hound, Nonsporting and Herding, according to the release.

Dogs and their handlers compete for Best of Breed, First in Group and Best in Show.

Results from this year's show will be televised on NBC after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While Willie, who also happens to be the canine face on several Arm & Hammer products, and Anderson are from New Jersey, several dogs at the show proudly represented Berks County.

Like Lorrie Fessler, Shillington, and Murphy, her 3-year-old Irish setter.

Murphy is Fessler's first show dog, though she has owned Irish setters for many years. Breeders she knew invited her to dog shows, and after a few she was hooked.

"I love the people," she said. "It's like a good family, the Irish setter group."

She's shown Murphy several times and he's done well, Fessler said.

Across the expo, John Sebalusky, Birdsboro, waited for a round of competition with Oliver, his Labrador retriever. The friendly dog was licking people who stopped to ask John questions about Labs.

John and his wife, Barbara, have shown dogs for 26 years. And Oliver is more than a show dog; he also helps John hunt.

"He's a flushing dog," John said. "He'll get the scent of a bird and follow it, then flush it."

In another section, Ann and Tom Bavaria, Kutztown, were preparing Trader, their 4-year-old akita, for competition.

"His coat is a little oily," Tom said while spritzing the dog with a spray bottle. "I'm just giving him a quick wash."

As Tom started to blow dry Trader's face, Trader tried to bite the air.

"It's a game they play," Ann said, laughing.

For them, the show is about seeing old competitors, who have now turned into good friends.

"They're more than just people we see every weekend," Tom said.

"Some people have hobbies like going camping every weekend," Ann said. "We do this."

Contact Jamie Klein: 610-371-5016 or