Who would have thought that this little series of articles I was putting together would have taken such a serious turn, courtesy of COVID-19? The future is truly unknown and unpredictable.
I was showing in York, PA in the middle of March, when we heard news that the Louisville cluster was being shut down by the state. No one could believe it. Friends and fellow exhibitors speculated about what would be. Could we show next weekend in Raleigh? Nope. Then the onslaught of cancellations began to hit. Little did we know that would be the last time we showed dogs for four (or more) months.
Next, the American Kennel Club announced that hundreds of its employees would be furloughed until August. That’s right.. August, possibly longer. Without AKC field reps, there can be no shows, so I had resigned myself to the likelihood of not returning to dog events until August. However, many clubs have canceled events as far out as October.
For many of us, showing dogs is a hobby and a pastime, something we enjoy with our friends, family and wonderful dogs. But, for the other 50%, showing dogs is a business. Many handlers have never done any other kind of work, growing up in the sport and following the path of their parents, and grandparents. Our little industry stretches far beyond the handlers, however. There has been immense impact on superintendents, entry services, photographers, judges, stewards, vendors and the magazines.
It seems every time we think there is a ray of hope, that the show will go on, the clubs are either afraid of going forward or they are pressured to cancel. I have heard (secondhand, so take it as you wish) that clubs have been receiving phone calls from members of the dog show community, pressuring, threatening and bullying the clubs to cancel events.
In other cases, shows have been canceled due to overwhelming promise of entries and attendance, where small clubs do not have the manpower or means to host a large show. Then, in one case I heard the exact opposite – that the cluster was afraid they wouldn’t get enough entries, and that they would have no gate revenue (which pays a large percentage of its facility rental).
I trust that the clubs are doing everything in their power to make the best decisions for all involved, but I empathize with everyone who is needing a dog show fix!
It is not all doom and gloom, though. I have thoroughly enjoyed being at home and have used the time to get caught up on many DIY projects. Like so many others, my flowers look the best they ever have, my herb garden is flourishing, the dogs’ nails are all nice and short, my house has been repainted, pressure washing is complete, the closet has been cleaned out, cupboards and pantry are cleaned and organized, and so much more!
The other thing I have enjoyed is watching people be resourceful with ways to earn money. Social media is full of new side hustles, and I am trying to do my part to support as many as possible. I regularly see grooming supplies, soaps, dog toys, leashes, nail polish (for humans), key chains, t-shirts and so much more. While this may not be an enjoyable or easy time for many, it is nice to see people turn a few hobbies into income, just as many of us did with showing dogs in the beginning.
We here at The Doberman Network wish everyone good health and happiness. Stay safe, and we hope to see everyone soon… and especially in Topeka for the Roaring Twenties National Specialty!
BY Doberman People, FOR Doberman People