Dog Shows in a New Era:

From Sea to Shining Sea

By Jess Pearson

Stock Photo

From sea to shining sea, exhibitors have traveled from one end of the country to another as they embark on the journey that has been so often referred to as the new normal. For some, the normalcy of packing the truck, bathing the dogs, driving while listening to podcasts, continues to press on. For others, the reminder of health guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing consumes the list of things to check off.

These last several weeks have been even more difficult for the fancy. Just last week, the Kentuckiana Cluster, scheduled to be held in March of 2021, was canceled. A favorite for many, this show was one of the last shows held before quarantine and shut own.

This comes after the continuing devastation with the last minute cancellation of the Elgin Kennel Club shows in St. Charles, Illinois, just four days before the start of the show. These clubs had worked tirelessly and volunteered their time to make these shows happen, but in the end, the ultimate decision was left to the show grounds and local government to decide.  The club worked promptly, and decided to merge with the Janesville Beloit Kennel Club to have their shows in Jefferson, WI on October 15 and 16, 2020.

Also recently cancelling, was the Progressive Dog Club’s toy specialties, leaving several exhibitors to question, will the Westminster Kennel Club dog show follow suit? For now, no decision has been made as exhibitors wait and hope for the best, all while also hoping for health and safety.

Meanwhile, west coast exhibitors celebrated with the first post pandemic show with the rescheduling of the Enumclaw cluster. Both Walla Walla and Olympic Kennel Clubs also practiced mask wearing and social distancing, as exhibitors were happy to be there, literally rain or shine.

If the first half of the year was not difficult enough, the second half is providing even more challenges for dog show exhibitors. From entry limits being met in mere minutes to “mask shaming” by keyboard warriors, the difficulties of being a dog show exhibitor in hopes of being able to participate in our sport have created mixed emotions and feelings about the ongoing health and safety concerns. No matter the outcome, our sport needs us now more than ever as we continue into this new normal. As always, no matter what your decision is, whether to stay home or to show, always be respectful of others’ feelings and opinions on the subject matter. After all, we don’t want to lose sight of what our sport is all about: the dogs.