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Showing with the Lotus Eaters

Sunset in Pacifica, CA, My First California Home

I am a proponent of keeping a balanced life. I have found that dog shows alone will not provide me all that I need from life. That being said, I rarely pass up a chance to combine dog shows with other pursuits. I spent the larger part of my adult life in Northern California. Both my children were born there. While I thoroughly enjoyed my baptism in the dog show world on the East Coast, much of what I know about the game came from shows up and down I-5.

For those of you who have never lived in the land of the lotus eaters, you have no idea how seductive the beauty of California is. Walt Disney famously said that his Magic Kingdom should be “picture post card perfect,” and that is an apt description of much of the Golden State. I moved to California from Brooklyn, where I was very happily ensconced in an east Flatbush row house. My Brooklyn home was over 3,000 square feet of every luxury a New Yorker can imagine, but my 1,400-square-foot coastal bungalow in NORCAL had a view of 35 miles of Pacific coastline. I fell head over heels in love on day one.

In New York, I took in over 50 shows a year and never traveled much more than two hours from home. Some of the venues were very memorable, e.g., the Westchester Kennel Club show on the grounds of the Lyndhurst Castle and the fall color extravaganza of the Ramapo Kennel Club show. In California, everything was a substantial drive away. However, everywhere we went, there was another spectacular vista ahead: The Sir Francis Drake Kennel Club with rings on islands in the middle of ponds surrounded by buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Del Monte Kennel Club show in Carmel. Just this past weekend, there was the Yosemite Kennel Club show in Merced. Now the show grounds may not be inspiring, but a side trip to the park will nourish your soul for a decade.

As one ages, practical considerations upstage the sensual and one seeks locales that are less glamorous and more nurturing. However, this week I will return to Northern California, the land of my youth, for my new granddaughter’s baptism. My son, knowing how rarely I come to the West Coast, sweetened the deal by scheduling it the same week as the Terrier-heavy Sacramento Kennel Club show. Because I am a man who loves his family and knows just where my wife’s tolerance ends, I will only be at the Saturday edition of the Sacramento KC, but for you folks who have more leisure time and fewer familial influences, look into the two days of Terrier gluttony hosted by the Northern California Terrier Association. You will see more than 400 of the most beautiful, scrappy dogs anywhere on both Thursday & Friday. On Saturday & Sunday, the other six groups will join in to provide one of the most enjoyable stops in the northern part of the state.

Visit the Dog Show Cal Expo website to enjoy video from the 2011 shows. If you see me at ringside, please stop and say hello, and remind me why I loved the shows on the West Coast, the beautiful dogs and their amazing people. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.