The North Carolina State Fairgrounds was the site for the 10th annual American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership Days event on September 22, 2012, in Raleigh, N.C. Nearly 4,000 area residents attended the event, involving more than 70 local dog clubs, pet-related organizations, retailers and AKC departments.

AKC encourages organizations throughout the country to hold community events each year to commemorate Responsible Dog Ownership Days during the month of September, and this year approximately 650 did just that. Almost every corner of the United States has had an RDO event this month, and there was even a fun-filled RDO day held on Guam on September 22.

More than 70 clubs, organizations and vendors had booths with information and products for dog lovers. Photo by Robert Young/AKC.

The flagship Raleigh event kicked off just after 10 a.m. on Saturday with agility demonstrations by a dozen experienced dogs and their trainers in the “My Dog Can Do That” ring on the lawn outdoors, before AKC staff and volunteers began signing up visitors to try the course with their own dogs. In the adjacent ring, trainers began working with people and dogs that wanted to give rally obedience a try.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Holshouser Building, six local all-breed clubs, several dozen breed clubs and three rescue organizations had booths, along with the North Carolina Search and Rescue Team, and the Wake Canine Search and Rescue. Club members brought their dogs along for the day so the public could meet their breeds and ask questions, and the men and women from both search and rescue organizations spent hours answering queries from scores of people who stopped to meet their dogs.

Families were invited to try several new experiences with their dogs, including the agility tunnel at “My Dog Can Do That.” Photo by Robert Young/AKC.

Fanciers of 16 rare breeds introduced their dogs to the public, including a few that even experienced dog people had never seen. The breeds included the American Hairless Terrier, Azawakh, Barbet, Belgian Laekenois, Berger Picard, Boerboel, Cirneco, Estrela Mountain Dog, Hamiltonstovare, Lagotto Romagnolo, Miniature American Shepherd, Norbottenspets, Portuguese Podengo, Russian Toy, Stabyhoun and Wirehaired Vizsla.

The Guiding Eyes for the Blind acquainted visitors with its North Carolina Puppy Raiser Program, and the American Cancer Society Bark for Life, the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the North Carolina State Veterinary School and Pet Partners Insurance also had information tables.

In addition to activities with their dogs, kids enjoyed face-painting and games, and received free coloring pages with lessons about how to be a responsible dog owner. Photo by Robert Young/AKC.

Many pet-related items were for sale around the grounds, including gourmet dog treats and foods, toys, beds, artwork and more. Local dog training organizations greeted visitors from their stands, as did an animal massage therapist and representatives from a doggie daycare and spa, a veterinary hospice, and Lap It Up, a place where owners can take their dogs to swim, play and train.

Wake County Animal Care, Control and Adoption offered microchipping for just $10, which included lifetime enrollment in the AKC Companion Animal Recovery national recovery service.

As the day progressed, parades of AKC breeds, by variety Group, were held for the crowds outdoors, as was a parade of rare breeds. An AKC representative identified each of the breeds for visitors and gave a little information about each one.

The crowds enjoyed the flyball demonstrations, with both mixed-breed and purebred dogs of all shapes and sizes enthusiastically performing. Photo by Robert Young/AKC.

Big Crowds

Two of the most popular areas during RDO were the face-painting table, where kids turned into dogs, cats, butterflies, goblins and other creatures, and the Canine Good Citizen testing area, where dozens of dogs, both purebred and mixed, were put through the paces to earn their CGCs.

Herding demonstrations, where dogs of several different breeds worked a flock of ducks, drew lots of onlookers, and the flyball demonstrations were especially popular, with crowds three and four deep watching dogs race across the jumps to snag a ball and run back to the finish.

The herding demonstrations were a popular attraction. Photo by Robert Young/AKC.

As morning turned into afternoon, the lines built at “My Dog Can Do That,” where owners, again with both mixed-breed and purebred dogs, tried out the agility and rally courses with experienced trainers at no charge. All participants got a “My Dog Did That!” sticker for the human to wear and a cute bandanna for the dog.

Those with mixed-breed, rescue or shelter dogs who wanted to become AKC Canine Partners could do so for a special rate of just $20, which included a one-year subscription to “Family Dog” magazine, free T-shirts for all family members and two free months of pet health insurance. Before the day was over, an amazing 146 dogs had gone through the agility course, while a comparable number learned about rally, and many owners signed their dogs up with Canine Partners. Those dogs can now compete at AKC agility, obedience and rally trails, and can participate in the AKC pet therapy program.

Trainer Bubba Wilson shows a family how to encourage their pet to go through the agility tunnel. More than 140 dogs tried the course on Saturday. Photo by Robert Young/AKC

Many more photos of Raleigh RDO can be found here, and AKC will have coverage of other RDO events around the country on its website over the next few weeks. The Raleigh RDO was sponsored by Cosequin, Motel 6 and Rescue Pet Supply.