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Dog Shows – Turning the Covid 19 Corner

“Fear not – if everything goes according to plan, the wait is nearly over.”

by Sandy Weaver

It’s been a long time since Louisville was abruptly shut down, mid-cluster. It’s been a long time since those who rely on dog shows for their income have been able to do their work, and it’s been a long time since those who just love dog shows, dog sports, dog people and dog events have had a dog show fix. With the list of cancelled events stretching into September, some people despair that they’ll never see a dog show again.

Fear not – if everything goes according to plan, the wait is nearly over.

Some clubs were able to reschedule their shows instead of cancelling them. When all the stars aligned – venue available, judges available, workers available – the massive juggling act commenced, and Glenn Lycan and his team in the AKC Event Operations Department worked overtime to get those reschedules done.

Every year in April, a large 5-day cluster held in Perry, Georgia draws people from across America and around the world. The official name of the cluster is the Peach Blossom Cluster, though most refer to it simply as Perry. Then in May, a 4-day circuit happens, known officially as the Crossroads of Georgia Cluster. Most people refer to it as Little Perry. The show committees of both clubs worked hard to reschedule instead of cancel, and the dog fancy stands to win big.

Perry and Little Perry will happen back-to-back in June, heralding the renewal of the dog world and dog sports. Nine days of dog shows begin on June 11 and run through June 21. Monday the 15thand Tuesday the 16th will be open dates, though no one will have to move their motorhome. The Georgia National Fairgrounds is being very accommodating to the dog show world, and to the Atlanta, Valdosta, Macon and Southeast Alabama Kennel Clubs in particular.

At this writing, the President has put forth a proposal for getting America back to normal safely, and the Governor of Georgia is poised to unveil his plan for easing this state back into business. 

Mary Ellen Macke, Show Chairman for the Peach Blossom Cluster, credits leadership from the Governor’s office with the clubs’ ability to reschedule the two clusters. Because the show venue is state-owned, working with them was vital when choosing the dates for the rescheduled clusters. About rescheduling rather than cancelling, Mrs. Macke said, “One of the reasons that we wanted to try to reschedule rather than just cancel is the impact all the cancellations have on our vendors, handlers and employees at sites that have real financial impact from this pandemic. We really have been blessed with good entries throughout the years, as well as with great vendors and a wonderful site. We all wanted to say, ‘We are thinking of you as well as our club’.

“One of the reasons that I think that we were able to reschedule rather than cancel is that we, as a committee, don’t generally just look at doing the minimum, we ask ourselves what will make this show more special.  With that mindset, the brain engaged immediately as to all the ways we can make it better by moving it to a time that, hopefully, will be safer and less anxiety-ridden.”

“We all wanted to say, ‘We are thinking of you as well as our club’.”

The Peach Blossom Cluster is far more than “your average dog show” – it features conformation, obedience, rally, agility, CAT and FastCAT, Barn Hunt, dock diving and an entire day of specialty shows. How were the clubs able to reschedule all of that? Mrs. Macke said, “We were so lucky that most of our judges were able to move with us. We also were blessed with a number of good people who came forward and offered to help wherever needed. The help and support of all the people on the Peach Blossom Committee, from the specialties, the Valdosta Kennel Club and the Atlanta Kennel Club. One thing that I have often noted and appreciated on this committee is the willingness of EVERYONE on the committee to put ego aside and work for the good of all. I am MOST appreciative of this. As to actual changes, we had 2 judges who could not come with us; we had to move our grooming building and decided to make air-conditioned grooming available for rent and a well-ventilated building available for no charge. We had to move the location of a couple of things, like our Barn Hunt Event and some of our rings. A couple of our specialty shows won’t be joining us due to a conflict with their national shows or other specialties in the area, but most are joining us. AND we are picking up one from a canceled cluster, as well. Again, all this was accomplished by working with our great superintendent, Jack Onofrio Dog Shows, and our venue at the Georgia Fairgrounds.”

When asked what changes exhibitors will see and who the superheroes were in all of this, Mrs. Macke responded, “It seems that the world has changed. We will have a Zoom meeting in the next week and we will discuss changes, but a few will definitely be in place. We will have hand sanitizers and even gloves available throughout the fairgrounds. We are looking at having masks available for our workers and will have specific procedures and distancing inside the buildings. I don’t believe in superheroes, I believe in super EFFORT, when blended with super BELIEF in the greater good, FORMS opportunities for people to ACT superiorly.”

Spoken like a true superhero. Hope you can be part of Perry and Little Perry in June as the dog show world celebrates a return to business and to fun!

Sandy Weaver is an author, consultant and professional speaker who works with veterinarians to create happier hospital cultures so they can regain their passion. She also judges some Working breeds. When she’s not traveling to consult, speak or to judge, she’s spoiling her two retired Siberian Huskies.

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Posted by on Apr 20 2020. Filed under Current Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Comments for “Dog Shows – Turning the Covid 19 Corner”

  1. Michele Bearden

    Wonderful and so positive! This is exactly what we all need! Great job Glenn and team! We will have at least 5 dogs entered and can’t wait

  2. Raymond V Filburn

    Wow I wonder what the scientists and doctors say! I get it. Dog folk are unbeatable and unflappable. However even we aren’t resistant to this virus. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

  3. The Idaho/Montana circuit is still on I believe 17 shows in 21 days I believe in June

  4. Bonnie Guggenheim

    Positive start for dog shows! Yeah for the team!

  5. on average how many entries do you have from other state as in CA, WA, MN AZ and so forth?

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  • May 2022