Shows that close on November 7 will take place on Thanksgiving weekend, November 22 through 25. AKC has only one single dog show, hosted by the Holyoke Kennel Club, scheduled on Thanksgiving Day itself. The accompanying cluster is so bursting with great things that perhaps the clubs have made it worthwhile to be at dog shows instead of at home on this very family-oriented holiday.

The Holyoke, Windham County, South Windsor and Springfield Kennel Clubs will hold the 31st annual Thanksgiving Classic – yes, that’s right, it will be the 31st time this cluster has been held – at the Eastern States Exposition Grounds in West Springfield, Mass., the “largest indoor show site in New England,” covering more than five acres.

The most unique offering at this cluster is the Grace Brewin Memorial “Top Dog of the Cluster” award that will be selected on Sunday after Best in Show.

Grace Brewin devoted much of her life to the sport of dogs and was very involved with the Thanksgiving Classic. She began breeding and showing Lakeland Terriers in 1957, and began judging in about 1970. She was a longtime delegate for the Holyoke Kennel Club and also served as its show chair.

In 1999 Mrs. Brewin became the first recipient of the William J. Trainor Memorial Award “for meritorious service to the dog world signifying the ideals manifested by William J. Trainor.” Following the first Bill Trainor Memorial Dinner and Auction, hosted by the South Windsor, Springfield and Holyoke Kennel Clubs, Peggy Wampold wrote of Trainor for the December 1999 MB-F newsletter that the late professional handler had been “a special friend to the Thanksgiving Classic Cluster,” and that he encouraged members “to make it bigger and better. He always said we had the potential…to make it one of the best in the East.” Peggy also wrote that, “like Bill,” Grace Brewin was “always willing and eager to help and educate.”

Mrs. Brewin judged her last assignment in 2002, in her mid-90s. She passed away in 2006, just a few days shy of her 100th birthday. I’m sure she would have gotten a great deal of enjoyment from the “Top Dog of the Cluster” award.

To be eligible for the award, dogs must have been entered at all four shows of the cluster and must have either gone Best in Show at one of the shows, or have gotten a Group placement every day of the cluster, for a total of four placements. The judge for the competition will be announced at the show, and the grand prize is $500 in cash!

I think it’s great that this group of shows has an award of its very own. They have so much more going on as well, including raffles on Friday and Saturday in celebration of Take the Lead’s 20th anniversary. On Friday the AKC Registered Handlers Program offers its “Afternoon with the Professionals,” a free session for juniors where professional handlers will give them individual instruction in showing their dogs.

Other attractions include the AKC Owner-Handler series; Best Bred-by and Best Veteran in show; CGC testing; eye and BAER testing; a microchip clinic; and 4-to-6 Month Puppy competition. The International Canine Semen Bank will also be on site on the weekend for collection. This cluster offers just about everything one could ask for.

More Thanksgiving Weekend Shows

Just three all-breed shows take place around the country on the Friday following Thanksgiving. It seems to me that in the past that more shows held on this weekend. Friday finds shows in Montgomery, Ala., West Friendship, Md., and Turlock, Calif. The first two begin three-day events, while California runs through Monday with four shows, two in Turlock and two in Stockton, 45 miles away. There are two days of shows in Florida, near Tampa, two days in the Chicago area, two in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and two in Tallmadge, Ohio, outside Akron.

The shows making up the Dixie Jubilee Cluster at the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, Ala., will be hosted by the Montgomery KC on Friday and Saturday, and the Cahaba Valley KC on Sunday. MKC also holds obedience and rally trials, and CVKC just obedience.

The clubs host a wine and cheese reception on Saturday after Best in Show, and they also advertise a raffle with a crate, ex-pen and a television among the prizes, with the drawing to be held on Saturday before Group judging. They’re also holding a B match on Friday evening, an eye clinic on Saturday and CGC testing on Saturday evening.

The San Joaquin Kennel Club shows, held Sunday and Monday at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton, include obedience and rally trials, though they do not allow mixed-breed dogs to compete.

These shows will have supported entries in Labs and Siberian Huskies both days and in Rhodesian Ridebacks on Sunday, with a sweepstakes. The club offers CGC testing, an eye clinic, semen collection and DNA testing. It will also have a B match on Saturday evening.

The only extra listed in the premium list for the Lake Shore KC is a microchip clinic on Sunday for three hours, at a cost of $30 per dog.

But I’ll mention one other thing this club is doing because I always like it when clubs select trophies or prizes that “give back” to the exhibitors. Lake Shore will give a $100 gas gift card for Best in Show and a $25 card for each Group First each day. The only objection I could have to this is that the majority of the time professional handlers win the Groups, and most handlers have a policy that they retain any type of cash prize, so they may seem to get the benefit of this prize.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t object to supporting the handlers. It’s just that, because this is a business for them, the handlers bill their expenses to their clients, so free gasoline doesn’t mean so much to them. When you think about it, though, it does benefit the client who owns the winning dog, because their travel expenses for the weekend will be reduced. In reality it benefits all of the clients with dogs in the handler’s truck because expenses get split between all of the dogs the handler shows. So that’s a great thing, right? The club also pays for a Best in Show photo for the BIS winner, a nice gesture.

Incidentally, on the subject of cash prizes, the Montgomery KC in Alabama also offers $100 for Best in Show and $25 for Group Firsts, and Cahaba Valley offers a $50 gift card to Jeffers Pet Supply for BIS and a water bucket – something everyone with a dog can use! – for Group Firsts.

So that’s a look at what a few of the Thanksgiving weekend shows are offering. If you’d like for me to report on the unique things your club offering at its shows, please email me at