The last cup of eggnog has been drunk and the last holiday guest has been dropped off at the airport and life returns to normal. This last week of the year will be spent thinking about what is to be accomplished in the new year, and it looks like there won’t be much idle time.

January is the single most influential month in the show season with three venues that can put a dog into the Top Ten and keep him there for months. The month starts off with four days in Indio CA. The Kennel Club Of Palm Springs will host two giant all-breed shows on January 5th & 6th preceded by eight limited-breed offerings courtesy of the Southern California Sporting Dog Fanciers, the Inland Empire Hound Club Of Southern California, the Desert Empire Terrier Club Of Southern California, the Toy Dog Breeders Association Of Southern California and the Sand To Sea Non-Sporting Association Of Southern California. A lucky dog could ostensibly leave the desert with over 6,500 points.

I started 2012 on the polo fields in Indio, but this year my first outing will be at another January institution, the Rose City Classic in Portland OR. There are 13 specialties and one limited-breed warm-up, the Terrier Association Of Oregon on Wednesday, January 16th, all followed by four huge all-breed shows from the Tualatin Kennel Club and the Dog Fanciers Association Of Oregon. With something between 9,000 and 10,000 points up for grabs, Rose City is one of the three largest clusters of the season along with March’s Ketuckiana Cluster in Louisville KY and the just competed AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando. You still have time to enter Rose City as it does not close until January 2nd.

The third venue will be the Greater Ocala Show Grounds in Ocala FL. The Florida Gulf Coast Clusters I & II will offer fanciers 12 shows in a 17-day stretch from January 11th through the 27th. It’s a remarkable display of cooperation and resiliency by the Clearwater Kennel Club, the Manatee Kennel Club, the Tampa Bay Kennel Club, the Pasco Florida Kennel Club, the Lake Eustis Kennel Club and the Greater Gainesville Dog Fanciers Association. While the individual shows will not be as large as those in Indio or Portland, the point total will be larger.

During the last quarter of 2012, we saw several venues with increased entries. If our January shows continue that trend, we will be off on one of the most successful seasons in recent memory. Will one dog emerge as the heir apparent to the national title or will we have yet another close race to the finish? I suspect it will be the latter. Maybe you get rose-colored glasses when you start your year with the Rose City Classic. Come join me. And that’s today’s Back Story.