The tents are up at the Empire Equestrian Park and Polo Field in Indio CA, ready for the 10,000 entries they will shelter over the next four days. Although the site, surrounded by palm trees and mountains, is among the prettiest venues in the sport, regulars know that the open area can be windy and cold. The good news is that the forecast is for a slightly cool and sunny four days, with just a light breeze, pretty much perfect dog show weather.

The numbers have been in for a while, and I have been looking at them, trying to figure out what they tell us. First, right out of the gate, are the Hounds. Friday’s Inland Empire Hound Club of Southern California has an astonishing 712 entries, led by 122 Rhodesian Ridgebacks and 114 Whippets. Hounds will be 20 percent of the entries at the two Kennel Club of Palm Springs all-breed shows on Saturday and Sunday. Hound entries are normally large in Southern California, accounting for 21 percent of the entries.

The two shows hosted by the Desert Empire Terrier Club of Southern California have drawn almost 800 dogs, raising the participation at the weekend shows to 12 percent, twice the normal rate. The Sand To Sea Non-Sporting Association of Southern California similarly drew nearly 700 dogs for its two shows, giving that group 13 percent of the weekend, a slight increase over the average entry. While the Toy Dog Breeders Association of Southern California has just under 800 entered, Toy Dogs will make up 13 percent of the all-breed shows, well shy of their 16 percent average.

The Southern California Sporting Dog Fanciers has drawn 533 and will contribute 15 percent of the entries for the weekend. While this is well below the national average, it is a full two percentage points above the average for the area. Lacking the incentive of a limited-breed warm-up, the Working and Herding Groups will be below average, at 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Whatever the distribution, there still will be a whole lot of fine dogs in a beautiful desert locale. I suspect that many of them will be part of our Top Ten Dogs All Breeds at the end of 2013. If you are looking for a memorable weekend, head to the desert, listen to some Sinatra in the car, and experience one of the best outings in dogs. You may be among the first to see our 2013 Number One Dog. And that’s today’s Back Story.