Question of the Week
The perfect place to hold Meet the Breeds is at every state fair. When I lived in Wisconsin, the State Fair Board invited all the breed clubs to have a booth one day of the fair. The fair provided the building, parking and admission passes for the clubs participating. Each club had booth space and the club provided their booth (with a prize for best booth). The booths were against the walls, and the area in the middle was for demonstrations. Our Alaskan Malamute Club did a weight-pull demonstration. Other clubs did obedience or performed skills specifically related to their breed. We had thousands of people come through to pet the dogs and puppies, pick up literature and ask questions. With multiple dogs and owners, we took turns greeting the spectators. This allowed us to leave our dogs in crates in the booth with people we knew and trusted and be able to spend part of the day/evening seeing the rest of the fair. A win/win situation!
Meet the Breeds is a great program, but would pull more visitors when together with an all-breed show. Several facilities around the country do have the space to hold those events.
Jo Ann White
It is wonderful that the AKC has done breed-specific backdrops in consultation with breed clubs. While clubs can do more if they wish, it means booths can be manned by people bringing just dogs and limited materials. The use of an exercise pen to confine puppies yet make them accessible to children is something that works well too if allowed. It frees up people to talk to spectators and give grooming demonstrations. Covid concerns remain an issue for some, and many volunteers are getting burned out, so money for lunch and parking and club treasuries is appreciated.
Andrew G. Mills
San Diego, California
The negative comments I heard, more times than I could count, was that clubs were not allowed to present their breed in the manner they are used to. Give it back to the parent clubs. Give them their space, let them do their thing. The happier they are, the more successful the event.
For a small-in-number breed, I like to see them possibly in more places.
Living in California, the San Diego venue is great. However, when your breeders/owners and supporting club are in the northern part of the state, it is almost impossible to arrange and support the event.
I’d like to see the event visit Northern California; it could serve southern Oregon and parts of Nevada also.
The Dallas Meet the Breeds was a successful event, and I felt it was run well and thoughtfully. AKC came around asking us what they could do, and we walked around looking at other booths for ideas. The center-ring activities were a huge hit for the crowd, and even our rare breed, Saluki, had more than 300 visitors to our booth in two days, which we thought was excellent since we knew that on Saturday the gate had more than 2,000 people come through. People enjoyed looking at not only the backdrop of pictures, but all of the action and historical pictures we had sitting about. We were lucky that we had three people in the booth most of the time. This allowed us to converse with multiple people during busy hours.
What would make it a better event: 1. More breeds represented. I was surprised at how many breeds were not there; even some of the more popular breeds had no booth or no one at their booth either day. 2. Information sent to the parent club on what the people attending found interesting, such as more pictures, especially ones that told stories, and color in the booths. We saw the Borzoi booth and knew we had to “step up our game,” as theirs was fantastic, full of interesting items, pictures, etc., to create conversation. 3. Information sent to the parent club that in the case of some breeds, switching out dogs midday to be the people greeters, and definitely switching out dogs between the two days, would be very beneficial. With Salukis, there is only so long that any one of them will play catch the toy, and greet everyone with a big wag. Our best ambassadors were younger dogs with loads of energy and fresh dogs that had not been at the front greeting people for hours. 4. None of my neighbors were aware of this event until I put the information out on “Next Door.” Perhaps all the parent-club members in an area could do the same, as this creates a lot of interest locally. I had quite a few neighbors that I recognized come by and thank me for letting them know about it.
I love Meet the Breeds events. It would be fun to see some flyball and dock diving, which would bring in more spectators as well. Maybe some vendors of dog supplies.
Baldwin Harbor, New York
I don't know if they already do this, but: Give clubs – all breed, performance, etc. – within a 20- to 50-mile range a booth. Most clubs need newer and younger members to survive. The clubs can provide information about joining, learning and participating in their local events.
Invite and provide a booth for Juniors with a focus on what it means to show a dog. Provide information for parents on the many benefits of child development that showing a dog brings.
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Wow, great question! The only thing I can think of would be to have more space between each breed's booth so that it isn't so crowded and each breed can kind of stand out a bit more. But that would cost more money in square footage for the site, which is problematic. Maybe get the host dog-food company and the dog magazines for pamphlets, samples, banners, etc., and share the costs of the "dead space"? Like I said, great question, and I truly look forward to the ideas of others!
Brookville, New York
That’s a tough question as my club, the Norfolk Terrier Club, has participated often at the Javits Center. I’ve always felt Meet the Breeds should travel, but it should be at a show that gets an incredible spectator gate. The object of Meet the Breeds isn’t for the exhibitor; it’s for the spectator. Surely AKC must have some input on which shows throughout our country have high gate spectators. The old International back in the day would have been perfect or the old Philadelphia show. Do we have any shows like that anymore drawing in the spectators?
Easley, South Carolina
Meet the Breeds is a great way to introduce the public to the various AKC breeds. I think the events need to be better advertised. I would suggest getting advertising posters in all of the pet-food outlets, some local advertising on TV and getting the public schools to make all students aware of the events and teachers could plan field trips for the elementary grades. I know the AKC has lesson plans for teachers to use and getting Meet the Breeds events to go along with the lesson plans would be great.