Looking through the shows that close next week, it becomes evident that spring has indeed sprung and clubs are preparing for warmer weather. The first indication is several clubs that are asking participants – both exhibitors and judges – to wear casual attire instead of the usual suits or sport coats and ties.

The Myrtle Beach Kennel Club has two all-breed shows scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28, at the Eastern Carolina Fairgrounds in Florence, S.C. In addition to the notation that “with AKC permission” the shows will be beach motif and casual attire, they’ve got several other unique and interesting things going on.

Prado Regional Park in Chino, Calif., is a beautiful location for a spring show.

Prado Regional Park in Chino, Calif., is a beautiful location for a spring show.

The first is a Junior Handlers’ Fun Presentation, sponsored by the Middle Junior Handlers Club 4-H. The premium list says this: “Just like any other Fun Presentation, ANYONE can enter a dog in this event. But only someone 9 to 17 years of age can handle the dog in this event. There will be plenty of young people at the show, so do not hesitate to ask one or two to show your dogs.” Although it’s been quite a few years, I know that when I was of junior handling age there would have been plenty of kids hanging around the show willing and eager for a chance to show a breed that they might otherwise never have even touched. We’re always talking about getting young folks engaged in the sport, and I love this idea. I hope the Myrtle Beach KC and the 4-H club are encouraging lots of kids to go to these shows and that there will be many who become hooked on the sport of dogs after being part of this Fun Presentation. If you live in the area, tell your friends and neighbors to invite kids they know to go.

The second offering MBKC has planned for Sunday before Best in Show is one we often see at specialties, but not so often at all-breed shows. All AKC champions and performance titleholders are eligible to enter the Parade of Titleholders. It’s a non-competitive event, of course, but each participant will receive a rosette with the dog’s name and title on it. What a great way for people like myself who would love to support local clubs with an entry, but only have older retired champions at home. The entry fee is $18, and it will give lots of folks a chance to support their club and hopefully get a few old titleholders – and some not-so-old ones too – off the sofa for a day.

Myrtle Beach also has what may now be considered “the usual” special attractions during the weekend, such as Best Veteran in Show, Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show and CGC testing, with a B match and a costume contest on Saturday after Best in Show.

Lake Matthews Kennel Club wins this week’s prize for the most irresistible appeal to go to its shows. This club invites us to a “Picnic in the Park,” two all-breed shows, obedience and rally trials held at the Prado Regional Park in Chino, Calif., just about 40 miles due east of downtown L.A. This club’s premium list also notes “due to potential heat business casual attire is encouraged for both exhibitors and judges.”

Again, the usual extras are offered: Best Puppy, Best Bred-by and CGC testing. Saturday after BIS, Purina and the club host “An Afternoon with the Professionals,” conducted by AKC-registered handlers and free to anyone who’d like some handling instruction and ring tips. All this is great, but really I think it’s the park itself and all it has to offer that puts these shows over the top.

Right there in Prado Park there’s camping, fishing, a golf course, biking and nature trails, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding and grills for cookouts. Everyone can combine going to the dog show with a little summer fun in the park! The club maintains its picnic theme by offering insulated coolers for Group winners and special attraction prizes, and a wine basket and $50 check for Best in Show each day. There will also be several specialties on Friday.

Baytown KC is also calling for casual attire for its two shows, and indeed the front of its premium list says, “Aloha Baytown!” and includes a hula dancer in a grass skirt. Obedience and rally, as well as numerous specialties, are included with these shows, held at the Crosby Fairgrounds and Rodeo Arena in Crosby, Texas, just northeast of Houston. With temperatures in South Texas getting into the 80s in late April, one can see the need to shun coats and ties.

This club also offers Best Puppy and Best Bred-by in Show, microchipping, BAER testing, patella exams, DNA swabbing and blood draws, and an obedience match.

The Wilmington and Penn Treaty Kennel Clubs are showing their appreciation to exhibitors. In addition to three all-breed shows, specialties and supported entries, Best Puppy and Best BBE, as well as obedience and rally, the weekend will include complimentary refreshments during Group judging on Saturday and an armband drawing each day for a $50 gift card.

The New Castle County Police K-9 unit will give a demonstration on Saturday as well. These shows take place at the Lums Pond State Park Camping Area in Bear, Del.

The Fort St. Clair Kennel Club, whose two shows will take place at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio, April 27 and 28, also deserves a little recognition for its welcoming approach to exhibitors. The club says it’s made a tradition of providing “complimentary fresh hot coffee (with real cream!) all day long,” plus Timbits donuts in the mornings and complimentary refreshments during Groups.

There’s more. Professional handler Laurin Howard will conduct a free handling clinic for juniors after Best in Show on Saturday, and the entry fee at both shows for Junior Showmanship is just $10. The club participates in the AKC Owner-Handler series both days and offers Best Brace in Show, Best Veteran in breed competition, a Parade of Veterans and an eye clinic during the weekend.

As always, kudos to the clubs that work so hard to make their dog shows more than just, well, showing dogs. We’re happy to report on anything interesting your clubs have going on at upcoming shows. Just email me at Christibisd@gmail.com.