Question of the Week
Michael J. Pesare and Maida Connor
Maida and I have been the breed coordinators for our breed (Skye Terriers) every year since the AKC launched Meet the Breeds in New York City back in 2010. We have brought five to six of our Skye Terriers into New York City every year for the past 13 years. We will be attending this year.
Meet the Breeds is an intense couple of days for both dogs and humans. But we feel it is vitally important for all AKC-recognized breeds to be represented. Not only is it a superb opportunity for breed education, but it is also an opportunity for the general public to interact with responsible breeders who are often the backbones of their respective breeds.
The event in New York City is a high-profile event that serves a purpose. However, wherever you live, you have opportunities to represent your breed to the general public. As much as we can, I think the times call for us to step up and seek opportunities for public education — about our purebred dogs and responsible breeding. That could involve visits to local schools or libraries, or visits to PetSmart, Home Depot or Hobby Lobby.
I joined several other area breeders and owners to host the Labrador booth at the Meet the Breeds event in Columbus, Ohio, in October. We all agreed that we were able to disperse some valuable information about our breed to our many visitors, and it was well attended. We had handouts about how to find a reputable preservation breeder and what to look for when searching for a Labrador puppy. We also gave them a list of performance activities in which Labradors can participate. I was disappointed that many popular breeds were not represented at this Meet the Breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Chihuahuas, to name a couple. I would definitely participate in one again as a presenter.
I love doing Meet the Breeds and attending them. Since so few shows are now benched, it is the only way to get out to the public and show your dogs up close. We need more people in our sport and especially the opportunity to involve children in the sport. Since we specialize in blue merle Border Collies, it is a great opportunity to show people that Border Collies come in a wide range of colors and two coat types. I was very disappointed a couple of years ago when they cancelled the Meet the Breeds here in the Philadelphia area. As a breed club, the Border Collie Society of America has been trying to get volunteers at all the Meet the Breeds to showcase our versatile, intelligent and loving breed.
Tenafly, New Jersey
I have attended and participated in all the previous Meet the Breeds and will continue to make it a priority. This tremendously successful outreach to the public brings more awareness of purebred dogs to prospective owners than all our other efforts combined. Sure, it’s a grind, and more often than not expensive, but it’s part of the dues we pay for being a part of the sport …. and you meet a whole lot of really great people in the process.
Marge B. Calltharp
East Haddam, Connecticut
I do not believe I have missed a Meet the Breeds in New York in the booth representing the Chinese Shar-Pei, along with a few volunteers. It is amazing, fun and exhausting. AKC does a wonderful job organizing this event with many examples of what purebred dogs can do, in addition to allowing the fancy to present their beloved breeds. The dogs love all the attention, hugs and photo-taking. Thousands of New Yorkers attend just to pet and hug their favorite breeds. Meet the Breeds is such a bonus for AKC and purebred dogs!
Mark Francis Jaeger
I have only attended the Orlando events, where I sometimes brought dogs and other times just helped to provide breed information. I really loved the Borzoi booth (Chris and Patti Neale did a fabulous job). We have also tried a smaller version with our all-breed shows, which was well received by the public.
Gary L. Andersen
I have attended and I have participated in Meet the Breeds. I think this is a great platform to educate the general public on breeds in which they may have interest. I have seen people who have one breed but are interested in a second use this to start their research.
Tracy Van Niel
I was the coordinator of the Border Terrier booth for the AKC Meet the Breeds event in Columbus, Ohio, on October 15, 2022.
AKC Meet the Breeds provided fabulous booth backdrops for each breed that participated, along with two tables and four chairs. We used posters, flags and handouts related to Border Terriers to supplement the booth decoration and also brought along a barn-hunt rat tube, wire rat cage, and a laptop with a Border Terrier slide show that showed on a continuous loop.
The AKC folks, who stopped by several times during the day to make sure all was going well, told us that the Columbus event was their most successful for the year in both the number of breeds that committed to be in attendance (91 breed clubs) and the number of tickets sold to the public. We had a LOT of people stop by our booth to talk with us, and it was a steady stream of people (sometimes two and three deep) from the time the doors opened at 9 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m., when the crowds started to thin out.
It was wonderful having a relaxed opportunity to talk with people about the breed we love, and we were also able to see a number of the new and upcoming FSS/Miscellaneous breeds while we were there.
A variety of dog-activity demonstrations were held continuously throughout the entire day (which the audience enjoyed immensely, based on the crowd noise we heard), and there was a children’s area where families attending were able to do dog-related activities and art. An AKC government-relations person was available to talk with, and AKC had a nice gift shop set up that seemed to attract a steady flow of customers, along with vending booths staffed by the event sponsors.
I have, and participated. These events are quintessential to the growth of purebred dogs and sports, not to mention the preservation of the breeds themselves.
Cranford, New Jersey
Yes, I have attended Meet the Breeds and will again this year. I love meeting all the people who come by and want to talk about our breed. So many say they had one when they were a child, so they stop to hold the pups and cuddle them.
I also love to visit the other booths and love the creativity the other breeds bring to their exhibits. We see anything from old English castles to bright-colored carousels to lavish English hunting scenes. Some make you want to just come in and sit by the fire with a beautiful dog’s head resting on your lap. You get everything you could possibly want and a whole lot more. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day!
I have participated in Meet the Breeds in the past. This is one of the most important events the AKC can put out there for the dog-curious/loving public. Highly recommend!
Port St. Lucie, Florida
I participated in Meet the Breeds at the AKC National Championship in Orlando for about 15 years. Many of those years I was representing the board for the Great Dane parent club. These are such useful venues for a family that is trying to decide what breed they should buy. These decisions are often made without the guidance of a breed professional, which is the strength of a Meet the Breeds event. Families with very young children need to factor into their decision how a young child will interact with a puppy, especially if it is a small breed. The individuals manning the Meet the Breeds booths don’t want a bad fit any more than do the prospective puppy owners. They will usually tell the puppy searchers the good and possibly not-so-good aspects of their breed. They will be told what would be an ideal environment for their breed. How much property do they have, how much time can they devote to play/exercise/training, etc. Having an opportunity to see examples of the breed at the booth and see how the dogs interact with their children is priceless. Many novice dog people have preconceptions of the personality of some breeds. At Meet the Breeds they will learn how the breed acts when raised in a proper environment. It was not uncommon for a family to approach the Dane booth (large dogs are always an attention-getter). It was more often than not that one of the parents would caution their child not to go near the big dog. That was until the Dane approached the child and licked their face. These events are wonderful learning experiences and certainly do the breeds far more justice than the rumor mills.
Charleston, South Carolina
Been to several of Orlando's Meet the Breeds and found them fascinating. Only problem, so engrossed one loses track of time. Met many great people and dogs that otherwise might have been missed if I spent the entire time ringside. Try it: Guarantee you'll enjoy!