So you've decided to bring a new dog into your life, and are considering numerous breeds.
Doing your research and carefully selecting a breed of dog that suits your lifestyle and meets your expectations in temperament, coat upkeep, energy level, etc., will greatly increase the likelihood of a long and satisfying relationship.
Before choosing a specific breed, spending time with a few individuals might give you a better idea of the general characteristics of the breed you are interested in. There are few better ways to gain this experience than by attending a few dog shows. On any given weekend, you can usually drive a couple of hours to reach a dog show, but once a year a four-day show cluster takes place right in our back yard it's called the Turkey Circuit.
This cluster begins the day after Thanksgiving, with Friday and Saturday shows held at the Turlock fairgrounds, and Sunday and Monday shows held at the Stockton fairgrounds. These are All Breed shows, so most of the AKC registered breeds of dogs will be represented. There will also be Obedience and Rally competition, as well as numerous venders offering everything from dog toys, treats and diet supplements, to leashes, collars, and grooming products. If you love dogs, and are looking for an educational experience, you won't want to miss these shows.
When you arrive at a dog show, you will want to purchase a catalog. This will tell you when a particular breed of dog is showing, and at what ring. Also listed in the catalog is the contact information for every person with a dog entered, so if you are looking to connect with people who have the breed of dog you are interested in, a catalog is a wise purchase.
Bear in mind that although these shows are all about dogs, your personal dog is not allowed to attend. Only dogs that are entered in competition are allowed to be on the show grounds.
You may be surprised to find that although there will likely be more than 1,000 dogs present, it will be relatively quiet, with dogs well-controlled. Most of the dogs present will have been well-socialized, and are accustomed to the dog show surroundings and routine. But just because you are surrounded by calm, controlled dogs doesn't mean you should get directly into their space to interact with them. If you have children, keep them with you, and ask for permission to pet or interact with any dog you fancy.
While ringside, scoping out your breed of choice, be mindful that when people are showing their dogs, they won't want to talk with you. Your best approach is to watch quietly, and after the competition is over for that particular breed, then find some people to chat with. People are more than happy to talk about their particular breed of dog before or after their time in the ring is done.
Dog shows are a great place to be if you are interested in all things canine, and may give you a rare glimpse of some uncommon breeds that you might not otherwise encounter. There is much to see, much to learn and if you're interested in a particular breed, it's a great opportunity to get up close and personal with lots of individual dogs.
Lisa Moore's pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Weekly Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.