Our First International Kennel Club Show
By: Dolores Ferrero

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked our flight to Chicago for the Shaumberg shows. I’m a native Californian, but my parents were natives of south suburban Chicago, so I’m more familiar than most with the terms “wind chill factor” and “lake effect snow.” I’m also old enough to remember the OLD International Kennel Club shows…both the International Amphitheater at the stockyards and the McCormick Place Convention Center. I remember                  Mr. Auslander. And I was really curious how that legacy would play out under new management. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and clicked ‘book flight.’

We’re starting a new special.

We didn’t win.

But we had an amazing time, and we’ll absolutely be back.

We went for the NOHS gala. Our Banjo was the the #1 NOHS Boston Terrier in 2022, and we were invited to the inaugural gala celebration of all things owner-handled. The celebration itself was an amazing experience. It’s clear that the IKC leadership values the NOHS and the owner-handler, and that they’re committed to bringing us together to celebrate the success of our dogs. But the weekend offered so very much more than that.

The Open show extravaganza gave our FSS and miscellaneous breeds a platform and a stage – introducing the long term show community and the general public to some beautiful new to us breeds.

The content provided during the Breeder Symposium was pure gold for both beginning and more seasoned breeders – it truly offered something for everyone.

The grooming competition was both fun and educational for everyone who took the time to check it out.

But what set this event apart for me was how these clubs made our activity – our passion – extremely accessible to the general public. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, it was uncomfortable on Saturday afternoon. Yes, there are things that will work better with a few changes. But in an era where a large anti-breeder movement seeks to make our activity archaic and irrelevant to the public, these clubs offered a viable alternative.

And many of us were happy to help.

While we weren’t official “meet the breed” participants, we spent a fair amount of time interacting with people in the lobby, and we weren’t the only exhibitors to do so. There are a few Border Terriers, Old English Sheepdogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, French Bulldogs, German Shepherds, and a Boston Terrier from California with a very large Midwest Instagram/Facebook/Tik Tok following.

In summary, we went this year for the NOHS event. We’ll come back (even with the risk of snowfall over sunshine) because this event has joined a handful of show weekends on our “will not miss this one” list.