I generally make a few early morning pit stops on my way to a dog show. Other than stopping for gas, a quick spin by the drive-thru window at a Starbucks is the most important errand of the day. A donut or bagel can always wait, but my grande medium roast – black – well, that’s every bit as important as a full tank of premium fuel.

So when I recently attended the Kennel Club of Palm Springs shows in Indio, Calif., I was pleased to find a Starbucks located directly along the route from my hotel to the show grounds. Needless to say, this particular coffee shop became my home away from home during my week’s stay in Southern California.

But besides offering a reliable “cup of Joe,” my newfound home also offered free WiFi, thus allowing DFR Blogger Kayla Bertagnolli and me the opportunity to upload our pictures to the Best In Show Daily photo galleries. Twice each day, we’d enjoy our coffee (hers is a grande caramel macchiato, iced, upside down, in case you were wondering) as we edited the same-day images our readers expect to find on our website and Facebook page.

As it turns out, Kayla and I were not alone in our routine. Each morning and every evening, various dog show devotees greeted us as we worked on our laptops. So many dog folks stopped by this particular Starbucks, in fact, that the baristas were running out of many items including yogurt, sandwiches and pastries.

“There’s a dog show in town,” was the baristas’ message for disappointed customers.

This sign was recently displayed on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club during the Kennel Club of Palm Springs dog shows, held in Indio, Calif. Photo by Dan Sayers.

The friendly staff at the Starbucks on the corner of Highway 111 and Monroe Street in Indio certainly did their best to keep up with the demands of the out-of-town visitors. But what impressed me most was the ease with which they unwittingly promoted the dog shows as they performed their jobs. Whenever a customer commented on how busy the place was, the employees behind the counter mentioned “the dog show,” and told them where it was being held. I’ll bet those good people at Starbucks introduced a lot of people to purebred dogs, and maybe a few of them even made it over to the Empire Polo Club themselves when they got off work.

In the past few years, a lot of good ideas have been proposed to expand the public’s awareness of local dog shows and the people who support conformation and performance events. The “I’m here for the DOG SHOWS!” campaign was started at Palm Springs three years ago and has since been expanded to many parts of the country. Exhibitors are given bright yellow stickers bearing the “I’m here” message, and wear them as they go out to eat and shop. The idea is to let communities know who we are and why we’re in town spending our money. We’re here for the dog shows, of course! (The American Kennel Club conducted a survey in 2012 that showed that a medium-sized three-day cluster – with an entry between 1000 and 2500 dogs –brings an average of $588,000 in revenue to the host community. –Editor)

A bright yellow sticker is a terrific tool for getting the message out, but the energetic team at the Indio Starbucks demonstrated how this idea could be taken one step further. If dog folks can spread the message that we’re spending our dollars at local businesses, why not give those same businesses a chance to spread our message to the rest of their customers? Wouldn’t it be a great way to let people know there’s a dog show in town by leaving flyers at local Starbucks, McDonald’s, PetSmarts and Petcos? “Dog Show Today and Tomorrow at the Civic Center – You’re Invited!”

Imagine the people out running errands on a Saturday morning who will see the notices and decide to take their families to the dog show. And imagine if once they get there, friendly exhibitors welcome them with introductions to their favorite canine companions. How hard can it be?

All we have to do is get visitors to our shows, and the dogs will do the rest.