The first time I ever attended the Waukesha cluster was almost 20 years ago as a handler, and it became one of my favorites show weekends, whether showing dogs or as a spectator. Although I haven’t been back for a number of years, I’ve heard that Mareth Kipp’s shows in Wisconsin in July are still worth attending. A true dog woman, Mareth does her best to assure that her shows are exhibitor-friendly and that her judging panels include the sport’s finest arbiters. Entries at Waukesha last year ranged from 1,482 to 1,593.

Paper Cities Kennel Club hosts two all-breed shows just 20 miles south, in Rochester, the weekend before the three days of shows in Waukesha. Waukesha Kennel Club, whose two all-breed shows this year take place Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, 2013, is preceded on Friday by the Great Lakes All Terrier Association and Combined Specialties of Greater Milwaukee, along with WKC obedience and rally trials. All events take place at the Waukesha County Exposition Center.

A stay at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel is one of the prizes at the upcoming Take the Lead raffle in Waukesha.

In addition to 4-to-6 Puppy and AKC Owner-Handler Series competition, the cluster is host to the Eukanuba Breeder’s Stakes on Friday. On Saturday the Waukesha Kennel Club and Take the Lead host their “Ice Cream Social and Raffle.” Fanciers can view and purchase tickets for the raffle all day Saturday, with winners announced prior to Best in Show. They’ll break out the cold, creamy refreshments a half-hour prior to Group judging. The raffle prizes are nothing short of fabulous and include a weekend for two at the Grand Hotel  on Mackinac Island, Mich., which, as many fanciers know, is owned by the Musser family.

Amelia and her husband, Dan Musser Jr., have been involved in the dog show world for many decades, but most recently were best known as the owners of ‘Sadie,’ the 2010 Westminster Best in Show-winning Scottie Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. Dan began working at the Grand Hotel, owned by his uncle, W. Stewart Woodfill, when he was in college in 1951, and became its president in 1960. The Mussers purchased the hotel in 1979, and Dan became its chairman, a post he held until September 2011. He served as emeritus chairman until his death in April this year.

Many people, myself included, first became aware of the Grand Hotel when the 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was filmed there. It was under Dan’s guidance that the 126-year-old hotel grew into the elite resort and National Historic Landmark that it is today. The hotel now includes a trophy room, where Sadie’s ribbons, photos and trophies are on display, as well as Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, which celebrated its grand opening June 1. A weekend for two at the beautiful historic hotel is indeed a very special prize.

Also included in the raffle are four tickets to a Green Bay Packers pre-season football game and “raffle baskets galore.”

The three days in Waukesha are followed by two all-breed shows hosted by the Burlington, Wisconsin, Kennel Club, held just 30 miles southwest of Waukesha at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, Wis.

Speaking of nice entry numbers, the Carolina Foothills Cluster had entries as high as 2,029 last year. The shows begin on Thursday, July 25, with the Carolina Foothills Combined Specialty Association, followed by three all-breed shows, obedience trials and rally trials hosted by the Hendersonville, Greenville and Spartanburg Kennel Clubs, all at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, S.C.

A Take the Lead event, featuring a raffle Friday and Saturday, as well as a reception on Saturday that promises a nice big dose of Southern hospitality, is sponsored by the three kennel clubs. The Carolina Dog Judges’ Study Group will have seminars and workshops for Toy breeds Friday through Sunday, covering Shih Tzu, IGs, Pekingese, Papillons, Affenpinschers, Brussels Griffon, Min Pins and Yorkies.

Concurrent specialties and supported entries at the all-breed shows will no doubt boost entries for Dandies, Vizslas, Dals, Field Spaniels, Huskies, Bulldogs and Shar-Pei. The Yorkshire Terrier Club of the Carolinas will hold a B match on Saturday evening. Dr. Charles Martin will conduct an eye clinic on Saturday, and the International Canine Semen Bank Atlanta will have its mobile clinic on site during the shows.

The Mountain Laurel Cluster is working hard to give those who attend its shows something extra this summer. The first bit of good news is that all the buildings for the shows, held at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds in Bloomsburg, Pa., are now air-conditioned. Friday and Saturday are all-breed shows and obedience and rally trials held by the Lackawanna KC, with obedience and rally trials hosted by the Williamsport Dog Training Club on Sunday.

Lackawanna KC welcomes exhibitors to the shows on Friday after Best in Show with a hamburger and hot dog dinner, asking only that everyone bring a salad or dessert. (Who doesn’t love a cookout with potluck salads and desserts?!) On Saturday during Group judging, there will be an ice cream social, seemingly a very popular idea at dog shows these days, and a great way to celebrate summer.

The club also offers Veterans classes both days, with Best Bred-by-Exhibitor competition on Friday and Best Puppy on Saturday.

If your club is offering something extra, interesting or unusual at its upcoming show, email me at a few weeks before the closing date and I’d be happy to report on it. And remember to go the extra mile to keep your dogs – and yourself – safe during these dog days of summer.