This time of year in the DC area, is a great time to take in some dog shows. If you've never been you should know there usually is no admission fee for spectators. There may be a fee for parking, though. You should bring something to sit on ( a folding chair or blanket) and dog shows end early. Best In Show, the highlight of the event is usually right after the lunch hour.
So here is what happens. The night before a three day show (most kennel clubs take one day of a weekend and rent a show site with two other clubs that take the other days) the professional handlers arrive in their motor homes with their clients' dogs, groom them and camp out with their friends from all over. In the morning,local breeders and handlers pull in with groomed dogs and fluff them up under a communal tent with the professionals. Everyone uses a copy of the catalog (show program) to map out when they need to be where and then rush to each ring in which their dogs are to appear to collect their arm bands. If they are showing dogs for other people they coordinate who will bring dogs to ringside at the right time.
If you are a spectator, you have a much easier time of it. Stroll to the superintendent's tent (everyone will know where it is and there will be signs) and buy a copy of the show program (catalog). Find the schedule for the day you are attending and choose a ring. See which dogs will be at what time. Take your chair to the ringside and stake out a seating area. Watch the fun. If you are motivated, the catalog aslo lists show times by breed. You can hop from ring to ring and see any dog you fancy. Some shows have puppy or senior dog only presentations which usually draw varied entries and a crowd. In fact, November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month so you might consider looking for a rescue group at the show or listed in the catalog and get on their waiting list.
There are usually vendors selling dog supplies and food along the way. Points of etiquette; guard any food you have so that errant dogs don't steal or get into a squabble over it. Ask before touching dogs and consider that most exhibitors with arm bands are in a hurry and maybe even nervous. There are plenty of spectators who can answer questions and at the lunch break most people go home. Only those showing in the group competition will stay.
After lunch the Best In Show ring will be exciting. After each ring has chosen a winner from puppy, adult, male, female, and Champions, one dog and one bitch from each breed will get points toward Champion or Grand Champion status and to compete in the Group Ring; herding, toys, terriers, etc. Then one winner from each group competes in Best in Show. The winner takes home a ribbon , usually a trophy, and his points may be bumped up to match the high score of others defeated in the competition.
This time of year there are plenty of local shows. You can find more at infodog.com or from your local kennel club website. The following Clubs hold All Breed shows in the fall;
- Warrenton Kennel Club
- Old Dominion Kennel Club
- Catonsville Kennl Club
- National Capital Kennel Club
- Laurel Highlands Kennel Association (show results on infodog)
- Upper Potomac Valley Kennel Club
- Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club
- Chesapeake Kennel Club of Maryland
- Upper Marlboro Kennel Club (Contact on AKC Page)
- Annapolis Kennel Club (story in Canine Chronicle)
- Catoctin Kennel Club
- Carroll Kennel Club
- Maryland Kennel Club (Listing on Bing)
- Middleburg Kennel Club
The shows are held as far as Doswell and Cumberland, Timonium and Fairgrounds in Carroll, Howard and Frederick Counties. The Catoctin Kennel Club and Oriole Dog Training also hold Obedience trials in Westminster and at Point of Rocks. You can find dates and addresses at infodog, on the AKC site, too.