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Dog Shows in a New Era
by Jess Pearson
Photos by Karen Hanson

It is hard to believe that three months ago almost to the day, hundreds of breeders, handlers, and exhibitors were tearing down set ups to begin their journey home as some, if not most, would be out of jobs indefinitely, wondering when would be the next time they would be at a show or how they were going to be able to survive over the next week, month, or perhaps year.

It is amazing how much our society has been set back, yet brought forward at the same time. A few months ago, I wrote an article for another animal species magazine about how we have the world at our fingertips with the help of technology. Could you imagine being in this same scenario of quarantine if it was 1990? Life would be much more challenging.

One thing is certain: the creativity and unity of our entire sport and the shared knowledge of our most experienced breeders and handlers, has paved the way of the future. Handlers have resorted to online webinars where they share their talent with the rest of the fancy. Online dog shows were created to pass the time and offer an additional way of raising funds for those in need. Organizations were started to raise funds for professional handlers, and dog trainers shared tips with the fancy and even assisted in online titling programs offered by AKC.

The nation is finally beginning to open up, if even the slightest bit. All hope is not lost as a handful of shows remain over the next several months. Oklahoma and Texas are just a couple of the states that are attempting at restarting shows for the season. While sites such as Purina Farms have closed their doors through August, clubs have been forced to find additional venues to host shows or risk canceling completely.  Show limits are being met for the first time in a long time, with Oklahoma meeting limits within 4 hours of entries opening. If this is any indication, people want to get back to shows.

With the new AKC guidelines for post pandemic shows, exhibitors have had to alter their normal show routine. Wearing masks alone poses its own challenges, while clubs struggle to figure out how to handle grooming spaces and eliminate the use of force air dryers. While the situations are not ideal, one thing to remember as you resume shows, is that this is the scenario we must work with, and everyone is doing their best to adapt. Clubs are doing their best to return our sport to normal. Handlers and exhibitors are offering to step in and help where there is a need. No one imagined we would be here today. There are so many questions unanswered as we all work together to move forward. Remember to be kind, lend a hand, encourage new exhibitors, and above all else, remember that if we are too critical about everything, we lose sight on what this sport truly is about: the dogs.