Getting Back To Dog Shows

By Michelle Jones

In July 2020 the Piedmont and Greenville Kennel Clubs hosted the Carolina Foothills Cluster in Greenville South Carolina. These were the first shows in the southeast since March and the first sporting event in SC since the COVID19 shutdown. These clubs went to great efforts to make these shows happen and it was a great success.

The Cluster had to make some changes. They did not have Obedience this year, the entry was limited to 2,000 dogs, they offered free reserved grooming to everyone and the entire show building was used for conformation judging. The shows were closed to the public. They did have a limited number of vendors. Endless hours of planning went into the layout and setup of the building ahead of the shows. All of the planning helped in so many ways.

The rings were setup in clusters of four. They kept the same breeds in the same cluster of rings all weekend. This helped greatly with traffic flow throughout the building. The Clubs went on to organize the grooming spaces so you could be closer to your rings. For example, Toys and Terriers were in one cluster of rings and their grooming areas were near those rings. There was a total of 16 rings. For the All Breed Handlers they had a section in the center of the building for their grooming areas. All of the grooming spaces were nine feet wide with six foot wide aisles in between each row. It gave everyone plenty of room to move about.

Each ring had an entrance and exit clearly marked. The ring steward called in all of the classes but armband numbers were laid out on a table for you to pick up yourself. There was an aisle clearly marked in front of each ring so you could easily enter and exit the ring and maintain social distancing. There were light blue spots marked on the ring matts so everyone could easily space themselves six feet apart. There were areas beyond the aisles outside of the rings to mark off space for ringside crating. Judges did hand out their own ribbons and were available in person for pictures. Many of the judges would divide up large classes and all of the Groups were divided to limit the number of people in the ring at one time.

Throughout the day it was not unusual to see club members spraying the rings with disinfectant and again at night. The staff at the building were continuously wiping down door handles and heavily touched surfaces. The Café in the show building also made a few changes to help with social distancing.

Everyone had to wear a mask in order to enter the building. This was clearly marked on every entrance to the building. Face shields became very popular over the weekend. There were hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and all of the judges had a personal supply of it in their ring. All of the buildings entrances and exits were labeled as to which way the traffic should be flowing. This year exhibitors were unable to drive into the building on setup day. The Cluster had young gentlemen available to assist people with getting loaded and unloaded.

It was a very pleasant surprise on Thursday morning when the Cluster Chairman announced we could use hand held driers in the building. This was a huge help to the exhibitors and greatly appreciated. Over the weekend Greenville City Council members came to the show and observed. They were very pleased with how everything was setup and being conducted.

The Carolina Dog Judges Study Group hosted Judges’ Education Seminars for Toy Breeds throughout the weekend. They did have to limit the classes more than originally planned. They still had a great number of attendees. The class rooms were spaced out with proper social distancing in mind. Everyone had to wear a mask or face covering as well. During the hands on portion of the Seminar the attendees were encouraged to only go over two out of the four dogs presented to examine. The Shih Tzu breed seminar had 12 attendees. It was a great group of people with a good understanding of the breed. I especially enjoyed our class discussion after the hands on portion of the seminar. The study group had great success with their seminars.

Over all the shows were a huge success. The cluster proved that you could have a dog show with proper social distancing. Everyone seemed thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in our sport of showing dogs again.