While looking at my dog show calendar, I began my monthly pity party, whining about the dearth of dog shows in my immediate area. I have fond memories of living in Brooklyn, NY, and showing every other weekend and never driving more than two hours. Back in those days, I had a couple of shows I could travel to by subway. When I first moved to California, I thought I would never get out of my station wagon. (The only SUV I had ever seen back then was Marlin Perkins’ Land Rover on Wild Kingdom) Ten-hour drives became routine.

Today, I avail myself of all the available technology in planning my excursions. MBF’s INFOdog has a nifty application for subscribers called the “Ultimate Event Search,” where you can deploy multiple criteria in planning your puppy’s show career. As I waded through all the information, I soon was overwhelmed by data overload. INFOdog breaks down the U.S. into seven regions, New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI & VT), Mid-Atlantic (DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA, DC & WV), Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC & TN), Midwest (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH & WI), Great Plains (KS, NE, ND, OK, SD & TX), Rockies (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, UT & WY) and Pacific (CA, NV, OR & WA). I know I left out Alaska & Hawaii, but you guys in the 49th & 50th state know better than I how scarce shows are in your areas.

Imagine my surprise when I found that only the Rocky Mountains had fewer shows (73) than the Mid-Atlantic (131) or New England (112) regions. Even more surprising was that my neighborhood, the Southeast, had the second largest share (199) behind the Midwest (229). The Pacific region came in third (184), and the Great Plains was in the middle of the pack with 124 shows annually.

But I go back to that basic measure, especially important these days as gas approaches $4 a gallon, how many shows are within a tank of gas. The Mid-Atlantic region is a measly 360 miles from one end to the other, while the New England region is not much bigger, just 450 miles across. Compare that with the Midwest & Pacific regions that stretch 1,100 miles or the Southeast or Rockies which are 1,300 and 1,400 miles, respectively, to traverse. And for a really boring drive, it’s hard to beat traveling from Harlingen, TX, to Minot, ND, a distance of nearly 1,800 miles.

While realistically most of us will never drive from the Mexico border to Canada in search of a major, it is important to ask the question, “Do we have shows where the people are?” The two charts above attempt to answer that. The first is the number of shows available in each region per 10,000 square miles. The second is the number of shows per 100,000 people.

So what do I make of all this? I would say that a dog fancier who lives in northern New Jersey has way more access to shows than most of us. The real revelation to me is that 42 percent of the U.S. population lives in the Midwest or Southeast. Add Texas into that number, and it climbs to over 60 percent. I would say that the fancy might forget about what they are doing in New York and Los Angeles, and focus on the undeveloped market in in the South and Midwest. And that’s today’s Back Story.