The Heat Is On
This has been a very interesting time in our sport. Superintendents, breeders, vendors and the wonderful exhibitors are trying to “get back in tune” with the idea that dog shows have returned!
I have seen more “errors” in judges’ books than before Covid by all superintendents and show secretaries … which is very understandable. I have seen lots of what exhibitors call “My Covid Baby,” when the puppies are not trained to be on the table, ramp or ground. It is difficult if a dog is not trained, not only for the exhibitor, but also for the judge. I recommend that the dog be trained by the exhibitor, like they did before the Covid breakout.
Some clubs need to change the way they handle their shows if they are in the heat of the summer. Why do men (including male judges) have to wear a tie in this hot weather? I always tell exhibitors to remove their coats and ties and if the women are wearing a jacket they can remove that also. Women should be able to wear whatever is appropriate. The club should put in their premium list that it is a casual-wear dog show.
I recently saw a Junior leave the Junior Showmanship ring due to the fact that her dog dropped on the ground because of the intense heat. Luckily the child’s father was ringside and was able to get the dog help, but the child most likely will never forget this day. If a show must be outdoors in the heat season (which is hotter than usual), please make sure there are plenty of shade areas and tenting, and also lots of water at the rings for the dogs and people. It is very easy to get a container that has lots of ice and water, as bottles of water are very cheap to buy, and put them at ringside. I was at a show not long ago where I thought I was going to die! The temperature was in the 100s and hardly any shade or breeze. It was the last day of a four-day circuit … luckily I made it, or you would not be reading this article but my obituary instead.
“We are very sorry to report that Johnny Shoemaker lost his life due to a heat stroke at a dog show. May he rest in peace forever in a cool area …”
Dogs do not have any choice on whether to go to a dog show, but their owners and exhibitors do. Think about that the next time and think about the dogs and not the championship points you may gain. I know that lots of exhibitors and handlers have a nice cool motor home and keep the dogs in that cool area until it is time to go to the ring, which is great. If you don’t have some way of keeping your dog cool … do not come to the show. Show at a time of the year when it is safe. I know that some clubs do have ways for the dogs to stay cool and that is great! Clubs should invest in things that make it safer for the dogs and exhibitors. Instead of paying some of these outrageous fees that some judges charge, invest in things the club can buy or rent (an inside venue, for example) to make it safe for the dogs and the exhibitors and workers. Thank you, and remember, if we do not have dogs, we do not have dog shows.
I have been at some shows recently in which it was the first time that the club has offered the Pee Wee Special Attraction. I am so happy that they are giving the young kids a chance to show at the shows and not just sit at ringside with their cell phones, playing games and being bored. Thank you, parents and responsible adults, for supporting the Pee Wees! I have also found out that some clubs that are new at offering the Pee Wee Special Attraction are in the dark about how and what they should do. Here are some helpful suggestions I have that clubs should follow. The first is from the AKC website:
A Club must submit a Special Attractions Form to conduct the Pee Wee Class Special Attraction. The request must be approved by the Event Operations department. The Pee Wee Special Attraction is a pre-Junior Showmanship class. The Pee Wee class is geared toward children 5–9 years of age. Children younger than five cannot participate in the Pee Wee Class Special Attraction. The safety of the children is a primary concern.
Each Pee Wee unit consists of the child, his/her parent/guardian/responsible adult, and the dog. Only one Pee Wee unit is in the ring at a time. This is not a competitive class, but rather a fun, learning experience for the child and the adult. At an All-Breed Event the judge must be an AKC approved All Breed Junior Showmanship Judge. A Group Club or Specialty Club may have a Limited Status Junior Showmanship Judge that meets the criteria. The Judge MUST like children, be patient, kind, and have a sense of humor!
This Special Attraction must be listed as such in the premium list and in any public announcements which will include the following information:
A dog must be at least four months of age to enter the Pee Wee class.
Bitches in season will not be allowed to participate. If pre-entered, a dog may be substituted that meets the eligibility requirements as specified by the club.
All dogs entered must have the proper lead and collar.
A responsible adult must be present with the child both inside and outside the ring. The adult is to maintain control of the dog outside of the ring.
At a Group or Specialty Club Show the dogs must be of the breed(s) eligible for the event.
At an All-Breed event, all AKC fully recognized and Miscellaneous Class breeds must be allowed to enter, including dogs with a PAL listing.
At an All-Breed event, it is up to the host club to decide if FSS breeds not in the Miscellaneous Class and All-American dogs are allowed to enter.
It is up to the host club to decide if a dog must be registered to participate.
How entries will be accepted is up to the host club. In addition to an entry, a release must be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian. Please contact Event Operations at email@example.com to request the current version of the Pee Wee Release of Liability.
The entry fee, if any, shall be specified.
Clubs may specify a limit on the number of children allowed to enter the class.
Clubs must submit a summary report to AKC including number of entries and feedback to the Event Operations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The safety of both the dogs and Juniors inside and outside the ring is a primary concern. Outside of the ring, the dog is to be controlled by the adult accompanying the child. An additional lead, provided by the Club, will be at the Judge’s table. At the Judge’s discretion based upon the size of the child and the dog, for safety purposes the adult may be asked to attach a second lead to the dog so both child and adult will walk the dog together.
It is essential that the club hosting this Special Attraction provide the support and time to greet the participants and make them feel welcome and be able to answer any question that may arise. There should be a minimum of three club members to assist participants, monitor the ring for safety, and one may act as the steward. Club members must be patient, pleasant, and willing to dedicate as much time as needed to create a pleasant experience for the young Junior and his/her adult. This is vital to the success of this program.
Each of these club members assisting should make themselves familiar with the Junior Showmanship Conformation Regulations, Guidelines for Judging Juniors in Conformation, Juniors in Performance Event Regulations booklet. It is recommended that these Regulations be available to those junior entrants at the show along with the Pee Wee class procedures and guidelines. (The club may download the PDF of the booklet or order from the Order Desk.)
Although the word “judge” will be used, this is designed to be a learning and mentoring experience — no Junior will be “judged” but rather will be mentored with the age-appropriate amount of information to help prepare them for what they will be expected to know about AKC regular Junior Showmanship once they reach 9 years of age. Obviously, the older children can absorb more detail than the younger ones. The children will be mentored one child, their adult, and dog in the ring at a time. Each child will receive a participation ribbon or rosette to commemorate the experience. The club may select the color of the ribbon and may wish to add a small gift for the child or the dog to take home. It would be an added plus if the Judge were to be available for individual photographs with the show or club photographer which would serve as a memento and reminder to both the child and the adult of the fun experience and remind them to return again next year!
The Judge should explain the process of showing the dog to the Junior and the responsible adult in the ring including breed specific presentation. Depending on the size of the dog and the child, the adult may be asked to lift a table breed on or off the table, or the Club may mandate that the adult should do it regardless. The required judging surface (table/ramp/floor) defined by the parent club does not apply to the Pee Wee Class Special Attraction. The safety of the dogs and children is the priority when determining the surface for judging. Neither the youngster nor the adult should be asked to show the bite.
Consider either holding the Pee Wee Special Attraction at lunchtime, which would give the child and the responsible adult time to get to the show; or the Club may wish to schedule this before the groups, when rings may be available. It is important to maximize spectator attendance as this is a huge crowd pleaser! Ideally, a designated ring for this Special Attraction would allow more time for one-on-one mentoring for each child and adult. If that is not possible, then a ring that is vacant, preferably centrally located (perhaps near the Club tent) for maximum viewing by the greatest audience.
Some clubs offer a pizza party or cake in a separate location after the classes are over for the children and adults to make new friends and share this new common interest.
Some clubs also offer a Special Attraction for kids less than five years of age. They do not bring in a dog but a “stuffed dog toy.” I have had the honor of being in the ring with these young kids, and they have a ball! This must also be approved by the AKC … and is not part of the Pee Wee Attraction.
I also have other suggestions:
Make sure to let people know when and in what ring the Pee Wees will be shown. I suggest doing the Pee Wee Event on Saturday at noon. That time there should be a ring available and also kids are out of school and can come to the dog show.
Have a Junior or someone at the ring to control the entrance and also be available to help answer questions from the adults and Pee Wees. Make sure to announce the event during the day and get the other exhibitors to be at ringside to applaud, as that makes the Pee Wees feel so happy! The responsible adult must accompany the Pee Wee in the ring.
Clubs should get a supply of ribbons or rosettes at least for two years in the future as they do not need dates on them. Clubs should have a little snack or pizza party for the kids where they can talk and meet the other Pee Wees and enjoy a good snack and their dogs. Very important also is to get a group picture of the kids (without their dogs) and send the picture (the show photographer will send you the picture) and it should be sent to the AKC at email@example.com for publication on the website for the Pee Wees to see.
I would also make sure to keep the email and phone numbers of the responsible adults that would be on the Release of Liability form that each responsible adult must complete. This way you can contact them for the next year’s Pee Wee Event. he person taking the Release of Liability form should make sure that the email address and phone number are legible. The AKC will contact them when you send the forms to AKC at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know about dog shows near them and other things. The release can be faxed or mailed to the AKC juniors department. Please keep a copy for your records also and for you to contact them about the following year’s Pee Wee Event.
Do not charge a fee for this event! If your club cannot afford to pay for the ribbons or rosettes or the Pee Wee party, please contact me at email@example.com and I will pay for these things. Also, with the email addresses, you can send the group picture to each responsible adult to show to the Pee Wee. Please remember to send the release forms and the group picture to the AKC.
The future of our sport is getting young people involved. As of 2019 there were a total of 466 Pee Wee Special Attractions since 2016, when the event was recognized, which is a great total! Let us continue to increase that number by more of these events! None of us wants our sport to fade away, and with the Juniors, Pee Wees and the young people showing outside of Juniors and Pee Wees we can accomplish this. Thank you so very much.