Pressing family issues have kept me close to home since Westminster, but next week I will be in the San Francisco Bay Area for the always fun Woofstock. It’s a four-show cluster held in Vallejo CA on the north shore of San Francisco Bay and hosted by the Lake County Kennel Club and the Contra Costa Kennel Club. It has a “hippie” theme and is one of the most relaxed and fun clusters in the country. The opportunity to see the dog world elites dressed in love beads and tie-dyed shirts is worth the price of admission alone.

However, it is not all peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll. Over the years Woofstock has evolved into a major competitive stop on the show calendar. This year the four shows have drawn 8,203 entries. Saturday’s Contra Costa Kennel Club show, at 2,453 entered, will be the largest in the country next week. The entries are led by the Bulldogs who have 90 entries on Saturday. Also turning out in force are the Vizslas (82), the Labrador Retrievers (65), the English Springer Spaniels & Rhodesian Ridgebacks (each with 52), and the Portuguese Water Dogs (49). Friday’s Lake County Kennel Club show will see 59 Bearded Collies. The big entries have drawn dogs from all over the country, and we are likely to see some memorable matchups.

As you can see from the above chart, the distribution of the entries is a little different from what we have seen so far this year. The Sporting Group, at 527, is one of the largest we have seen. Not far behind is the Working Group with 473. Surprisingly, the Hound Group outpaces the Toy Group 351 to 319. The Herding Group’s 277 is just 11 percent of the entry. The big Bulldog entry pushed the Non-Sporting entry to 274. The Terriers come in last, as usual, with 206. It should be noted that the numbers may be small relative to the giant Sporting and Working numbers, but they are still bigger than most shows will see around the country.

For fanciers living in the Bay Area, Woofstock is one of the best spectator venues around. It is easily accessible from the freeway; the weather is almost always beautiful; there are several “Meet the Breed” booths; and the vendors will feature all the things the well-equipped flower child will need (well, most of the things). The big draw will be the dogs. The only other NORCAL venue that can offer as many dogs is October’s Del Valle Dog Club of Livermore in Pleasanton CA, 40 miles south of Vallejo. Should you bump into a short, fat, bald guy shopping for an XXX-large tie-dyed T-shirt, that would be me. Stop and say hello. And that’s today’s Back Story.