This week’s shows are few and far between.

Like much of the U.S., these past three weeks here in Memphis have been scorchingly hot. Two weeks of 100-degree-plus weather, punctuated by some spectacular thunderstorms, have settled into a balmy mid-90s test of the air conditioners in cars, malls & homes. It is truly the Dog Days of Summer.

In our dog show world, we are entering a week of white hot focus on the sport. We have had a couple of weeks of spirited competition across the United States in the past month, with some substantial entries. This past week had shows in 13 different regions crossing the continent from Vermont to California and from Alaska to Florida. This coming week’s show choices are literally few and far between. Fanciers will have just six places to go for their dog show fix, each one farther than the next.

In the Northeast, we have the Putnam Kennel Club offering two all-breed shows on Friday & Saturday in Stormville, NY, 90 minutes north of Manhattan. If you are a Hound enthusiast and are willing to drive another hour north, spend Sunday in Chatham, NY, with the Hudson River Valley Hound Association. Of course, you could drive 250 miles west of Manhattan and take advantage of the four all-breed shows the Chambersburg Area Kennel Club & Nita Nee Kennel Club are offering in Centre Hall, PA, starting Thursday.

In the upper Midwest, your only option is a weekend in Rothschild, WI, 200 miles north of Milwaukee, with the Paper Cities Kennel Club. Last year, the Portland (OR) Kennel Club had the entire West Coast to itself, but this year will pit its two all-breed shows and 12 specialties against the four all-breed shows hosted by the Sierra-Tuolumne Kennel Club & the Kennel Club of Salinas in centrally located, Interstate 5-accessible, Stockton, CA.

However, when it comes to exclusivity, you can’t touch Houston, TX, and the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows. As the only venue for over a thousand miles and in a major airline market, exhibitors are swarming to the three all-breed shows presented by the Houston Kennel Club, the Beaumont Kennel Club & the Galveston County Kennel Club starting Friday. The Texas Working Dog Association of Greater Houston & the Houston All-Terrier Club will each ante up limited-breed shows on Wednesday & Thursday, and seven different specialty clubs will join the fun on Thursday.

Not only will the reduced number of venues result in larger counts, it will also set up some dramatic matchups in most venues. So if you have a car with a reliable air conditioner and a gas tank capable of reaching one of these sites, stop in on an AKC show this weekend. I bet you will be impressed. And that’s today’s Back Story.