I often tell you about my favorite shows, and among those closing next Wednesday is another cluster I’ve really enjoyed attending over the years, primarily because it’s a great place to watch Terriers. This group of shows doesn’t have a name, but on Thursday and Friday, April 11 and 12, 2013, in Sacramento, Calif., there will be back-to-back Northern California Terrier Association shows as well as specialties for about a half-dozen other breeds, followed by two all-breed shows. Like almost all dog shows these days, this Group show’s entries have slowly declined over the past few years. In 2001 Nor Cal Terrier had an entry on Friday of 501; in 2003, 596; in 2005, 593; in 2007, 460; in 2009, 491; in 2011, 484; in 2012 just 367. But this is still among the largest Terrier gatherings in the country, Montgomery County aside. At so many all-breed shows today the Terrier entries fall below 100, so finding more than 350 in one place is a coup, and most years you’ll find a majority of the country’s top Terriers in competition in Sacramento in April, as well as those sought-after majors in lots of breeds.

Here’s one of the clever things Nor Cal Terrier has going on at its shows: the NCTA Garage Sale! The club invites everyone to take “clean, usable surplus doggie gear” to the venue on Thursday, and by Friday morning at 10 a.m. it’s all set up so everyone can shop. Proceeds benefit the club and Take the Lead. Anything that isn’t sold is donated to local animal care facilities. What a great way for everyone to share the items they no longer need or use.

The California Airedale Club hosts an all-Terrier handling and grooming seminar immediately following the Friday show. The two days include 11 specialty shows and supported entries in 19 breeds, and many of the specialty clubs arrange for ringside mentoring for their breeds.

Nor Cal Terrier offers competition through Best in Show for puppies on Thursday, and Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Show and a Sweepstakes Group on Friday.

The club will also have 4-to-6 Months Puppy competition on Thursday.

Sacramento Kennel Club hosts the two all-breed shows on the weekend, with three Terrier specialties, including American Fox Terrier Club, on Saturday, and 17 supported entries both days. It all takes place in a nice big venue with plenty of space for everyone, making for quite an enjoyable weekend.

The Peach Blossom Cluster is one of those events that always has a lot going on, and this spring is no exception. One of the things I love about this cluster is that, instead of having the specialty shows on the first day, which is always a weekday and means lots of people can’t come because they have to work, this cluster has its specialty shows on Sunday. Our specialty shows are, well, more special as far as breed competition goes than all-breed shows, so it’s great that this cluster allows them to have a weekend day for their shows.

Held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, the cluster kicks off with back-to-back Valdosta KC shows Thursday and Friday, Atlanta KC on Saturday and the Combined Specialty Clubs of Atlanta on Sunday, which includes the North Georgia Hound Association and 21 additional breeds in the other six Groups. The American Eskimo National will take place on Saturday at Atlanta KC.

Atlanta KC hosts a “special educational program and social gathering” for junior handlers on Saturday. On Friday and Saturday, the Dogwood Rottweiler Club, is sponsoring a Herding Introduction to Stock, where people interested in AKC herding competitions can evaluate their dogs’ potential and get a hands-on feel for what it’s all about. No prior experience is necessary, and it is not limited to AKC Herding breeds. Dogs that show potential will even receive a certificate.

There’s more fun! The Greyhound Association of North Georgia hosts coursing ability testing (CAT) for all breeds and mixed breeds, and even dogs that don’t yet have an AKC number can be signed up at the event.

As many people know, I tried coursing with my Norwich last year, and people and dogs have so much fun at this that I think it’s a great way to bring more folks into the AKC family. I really applaud the clubs that are giving visitors an opportunity to try coursing, herding and other fun things with their dogs. And FYI, the Greyhound club in Atlanta has quite a few CAT tests coming up this spring, for anyone in the area who wants to get titles on their non-Hound dogs.

Four days of agility and three days of all-breed obedience are also on offer in Georgia. The cluster includes Working breed seminars, AKC Owner-Handler Series competition, CGC testing, an Atlanta KC all-breed match on Thursday, microchipping, and eye and heart clinics. Purina is the cluster’s sponsor and offers goodies to the winners.

Another cluster I used to really enjoy, because so many of the top dogs in the Eastern half of the U.S. were always there, is the Blue and Gray Cluster, held in Harrisburg, Pa., every year in April. I think there used to be four or five all-breed shows, but in any case now it’s three all-breeds and two days of obedience and rally, all held at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Building in Harrisburg. Even with fewer shows, the Harrisburg, Lebanon and Mason and Dixon Kennel Clubs have a lot to offer.

For exhibitors and spectators alike, the cluster has always had lots of vendors – at least 55 last year! – and for public education they hold Meet the Breeds and, at least last year, participated in AKC’s “My Dog Can Do That,” which is a terrific special attraction that my club is also doing this year. The cluster also includes eye and microchip clinics and a B match Saturday afternoon.

For exhibitors, the Blue and Gray has at least one more thing to recommend it: the potential to win a $500 or $200 cash prize on Saturday! Harrisburg KC sponsors an “armband drop” in which, as you may have guessed, everyone writes their name and contact info on their armbands, drops them into designated containers, and after Best in Show the winning armbands are drawn for first and second prize.

The front of the Rhode Island Kennel Club premium list says:

No Smoking in the Building

No Practicing Allowed in the Rings at Any Time

No Classes for German Shepherd Dogs in Breed on Sunday

Commercial Videotaping Not Permitted Unless by Prior Approval

The Rhode Island Kennel Club is not responsible for the advertisements placed in our show catalog and is not responsible for the actions or products of the commercial vendors at these events.

These Events Will Not Accept All-American Dog Entries for Obedience or Rally

So I decided they needed “no” attention from me so I would “not” bother reading any further. Truthfully I did flip through the premium list, in spite of the wall of negativity I had to hurdle before I could do so, but I found nothing more to welcome me to their event.

That’s all I have to report for this week. Remember that one of the most important things we must do today at dog shows, and really any time we present ourselves as part of the world of purebred dogs, is to be positive and welcoming, not just to people outside our world, but to our fellow fanciers too. Dogs, dog shows and dog people have so much to offer.