Dog fanciers at the independent specialties held in Indio, Calif., seemed eager to get on with the 2013 show season as they arrived in the cool of the morning at the Empire Polo Club’s manicured lawns. Signs of last year’s race-to-the-finish seemed a distant memory as exhibitors and their dogs returned from their holiday break well-rested and with a renewed enthusiasm.

Rosettes stand at the ready at the Rhodesian Ridgeback ring. Photos by Dan Sayers.

Although temperatures were cool at daybreak, the sun reliably warmed up the polo field at what most certainly is one of the most beautiful show sites to be found anywhere in the world. This beautiful desert setting has been a playground for the rich and famous for most of the 20th century, and the canine stars of the American show scene seem perfectly at home here.

Boxers in the ring at just one of the many independent specialties leading up to the Kennel Club of Palm Springs all-breed shows on Saturday and Sunday at the Empire Polo Grounds.

Today’s events have gathered together sizable entries in many breeds from all but the Herding Group. Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting Group shows are under way, as are specialties for English Setters, Beagles, Ridgebacks, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Chinese Cresteds and Shih Tzu.

Doberman Pinscher bitches in the ring.

Tomorrow’s events will welcome dogs from the Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting Groups, in addition to several of the Working breeds. Both today and tomorrow’s specialties are but a prelude to this weekend’s back-back all-breed shows of the Kennel Club of Palm Springs. Stay tuned as the energy and excitement in this desert oasis are sure to escalate by Sunday evening’s climactic finish.