The phrase "Dog Show" conjures up images of elite purebreds strutting their stuff in the spotlight in front of an awe-struck crowd at a major venue. A solemn announcer intones the dog’s name and breed, and a panel of intense judges examines every detail about the dog’s physique, attitude, and performance. There’s a palpable sense of tension in the air as the public awaits the names of the best-of-the-best dogs.
Sure, that's one type of dog show. But we’d like to propose a new movement: Dog shows for the rest of us. These would be fun, inviting, informal, DIY (do it yourself) gatherings of dogs and dog lovers in neighborhoods across the country.
A few suggestions for your dog show
Venue. Choose a venue that can accommodate all the dogs and dog-loving humans you want to attend. If you’re planning a small group, someone’s home may work. Larger groups can get together in dog-friendly venues in your town, like the local dog park. (Make sure you have the town’s permission first.)
Admission fee. You can use your dog show as a fundraiser for a local animal shelter. Simply charge a modest fee at the "door," and make sure people know your show will benefit the shelter.
Entry fee. You may want to consider charging a modest entry fee to help defray the costs of venue rental, prizes, and snacks for the gathered dog lovers. Of course, to be as inclusive as possible, you may want your event to be totally free of entry or admission fees.
Prizes. The idea behind this type of inclusive, bring-your-own-pooch dog show is that every dog is a winner. So consider awarding prizes for a wide range of fun categories. For example:
- Fuzziest face
- Eyes that make you say, "Ahwwww."
- Fastest tail wag
- Funniest sitting position
- Wettest nose
- Most likely to lick a total stranger
- Happiest "Happy Dance," etc.
And since this is a local, low-key event, you don’t need expensive trophies. For awards, simply have some of the neighborhood children design colorful certificates!
Publicity. You don’t need a public relations expert to get the word out. You can easily—and affordably—publicize your local dog show with posters, flyers, Facebook posts, Tweets, and word of mouth. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Keep it local.
Special guests. If your dog show is raising funds for a local animal shelter, invite some of those dogs to the event. That way the public will meet those deserving dogs in person—and a few may get adopted on the spot! If you expect a large enough crowd, local politicians may take an interest in the event. And once they start spreading the word, you can expect even more people (and their dogs) to attend.