AKC's One-Stop Information Shop, Coming Soon to a Show Near You
By Barbara Ohmann
The Ferrell family arrived at the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows in Houston, and when they came through the turnstile they caught sight of the bright blue logo at the first vendor, the AKC Booth. They came right over for guidance and direction.
At their first dog show, Melissa and Pat Ferrell, parents of two small children, wanted to see the dogs in the show ring, on the agility courses, and in the obedience and rally rings. They had come to the show to explore breeds so they could select their first family dog. How fortuitous they came to the AKC Booth.
How do I register my dog? Can I check my points to see if I can move up my dog? Can I get information on online registration and recordkeeping? Do you have any information about breeders of Beagles? I have a family with small children—what breed do you recommend?
This is just a small sampling of the questions that AKC Education and Information Booth staff hears on any of the 40-plus weekends and the more than 130 days they are seen at dog shows and events each year.
Booth visitors number over 160,000 during a year and range from the seasoned dog fancier to the general public in the United States, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Visitors are regularly supplied with a large number of appropriate brochures, regulations, and rulebooks as well as crucial alerts and responsible dog-ownership materials.
Booth staff operates under the auspices of the Club Education department. I am Club Education director, and a longtime Labrador Retriever fancier and active club member. I exhibit in conformation, obedience, and rally. Pat Lejman, our department manager, has been a Borzoi fancier and conformation exhibitor for many years. Long respected for her elegant hounds, Pat enjoys exhibiting her new breed, Japanese Chin.
Barb Ohman, Rita Gardner and Pat Lejman
Meanwhile, Back at the Booth …
Let’s go back to the Houston shows. We have welcomed the Ferrell family and given them beginners’ guides to dog shows, obedience, and agility. We talked with the Ferrells about their interests and breed preferences. With an idea of the home and yard space, we discussed some of the breeds that would fit this family of four’s lifestyle. The family left the booth with confidence that they could find breeders at the show or akc.org. They were encouraged to return to the booth with additional questions.
The AKC Booth not only partners with the show-giving clubs to provide on-the-spot education and service, but we also strive to support the clubs’ activities at their shows. Many clubs are adding show tours as a way to introduce the general public and novice exhibitors to the show from top to bottom. The booth brings tour bags of quality educational materials for the club to give to adults and children. For most tours the booth is the starting or ending point, where tourists can pick up additional material and ask questions about AKC events, where to find breeders, or any number of family-specific dog questions.
The Ferrell family returns to the AKC Booth excited about seeing the three breeds we recommended. At Reliant Park, the club has a wonderful Meet the Breeds event, and all three of the breeds the family was considering were represented. We escorted them to the ring, where they were able to meet breeders and greet dogs to help them in their important decision.
Something for Everyone
When you see the AKC Booth at a show, remember that you can approach with paperwork questions. The booth generally travels with a full computer system to allow us to check akc.org for pedigrees, award records, rankings, and AKC event information and news. Forms can be printed, and if you complete them at the show we will take them back to the office for immediate processing.
At some events the booth teams with clubs giving Canine Good Citizen® events and provides necessary paperwork and processing. In addition, CGC dog owners can purchase CGC products at booths at all shows.
Clubs often are able to come to the booth to purchase trophies and Judges’ gifts for their events. The booth can provide materials and products to Legislative Liaisons, Public Education Coordinators, Canine Ambassadors, clubs, superintendents, and junior programs for gifts, prizes, and rewards. In promoting AKC children’s educational materials, the booth staff reaches out into the community to educate children in the states visited. Education is often the best offence to promote responsible dog ownership. Of course, going hand in hand with this facet of the booth is the importance of spearheading legislative awareness. The staff can inform visitors of any hot topics or expedite contacts with the AKC Government Affairs department.
Booth visitors include trainers, teachers, and veterinarians. We can provide these visitors with a wealth of information and materials for education programs they offer to children and adults in their communities. Vet Outreach, Responsible Dog Ownership days, and Canine Learning Experience matches are among many special projects promoted.
Judges’ education seminars, junior handling seminars, and Registered Handler programs are supported and promoted at every booth. AKC/CHF and AKC/CAR are essential for the well-being of our dogs, and the staff will facilitate contacts or answer questions regarding both.
The booth promotes PPI pet insurance and can offer helpful answers and direction in owners’ decisions regarding medical coverage for their dogs. We also promote such special events as DNA Live, PAL-ILP Live, and Foreign Registration Live.
The many products that can be seen and ordered at the booth include Puppy Kits, the newest Enhanced Certificate Frames, and the addition of AKC Three- and Four-Generation Pedigrees printed on the spot at the shows.
Supporting Junior Showmanship, staff members recruit future juniors from interested eligible families, then they help interested youth and novices locate seminars and encourage them to attend seminars and events.
Visit the AKC Booth when it comes to a show near you. It is the face of the AKC, and we take great pride in giving you premium service.
Barbara Ohmann, director of Club Education, travels the country with the AKC Booth. She is a longtime fancier who stays active in conformation, obedience, and rally. Ohmann enjoys time off the road at her home in North Raleigh, North Carolina, with her