A circle of friends
Montgomery County Kennel Club All Terrier Show in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA is the spectacular culmination of a four day weekend experience which holds in store, especially for the terrier fancier, everything from friendly company, frenzied shopping, excellent tutorials but most of all wonderful dogs. Wonderful dogs of all breeds but especially the terriers who bring a super weekend of dog showing to a close with the spectacular climax of MCKC Best in Show.
As a Wheaten fancier, before the journey begins I like to visit the Club of America web site on www.scwtca.org and get a full itinerary of the weekends events. Visiting another web site, www.weather.com will give you some idea of the kind of weather one might expect to encounter, which can range from very hot and sunny to freezing cold and wet, giving you some idea of what clothes might best be packed for the trip. Should you be a fancier of another breed then perhaps a visit to their clubs website might prove to be useful. Having done this taken a flight and booked into your hotel all that remains is to enjoy. It will be the attempt here to give you some insight into the experience in the hope that one day you might bring yourself to make the pilgrimage.
Assuming that you arrive a few days earlier to get acclimatised following the travelling, it is a must to spend the first couple of days taking in the sights, visiting places of interest and even indulge in a spot of shopping, this last one being for the ladies, with the most enormous of shopping malls situated in King of Prussia. Before you know it, it is down to the business of dog showing and the meeting of new and interesting people and rekindling old acquaintances and friendships.
The first show on the calendar is Hatboro Dog Club where upon arrival and before really taking in the surroundings one should seek out the overseas hospitality tent. Once signed in and collected ones overseas ribbon the tent can be used as a meeting point as well as a convenient place for drinks and snacks, all of which are free of charge of course. Off then to the show rings where one can feast ones eyes on the beautifully prepared dogs which all look resplendent and handled most professionally mainly by handlers but occasionally by owners. The ring stewards work very efficiently together to ensure that the judge can concentrate solely on the task in hand, that of judging.
You may be forgiven at being a little shocked or at the least amazingly curious at some of the sights that behold you as you move around the rings and seeing the different breeds.
Some breeds being very much different to what you may be used to. For example the Boxer, Gt. Dane and Doberman, all of whom have cropped ears and I must admit it takes a little time acquainting the eye and the mind before becoming more acceptable than the initial shock on first sight. There is also the droning sound which you cant quite place at first until, as you walk round, it becomes apparent that the noise is emanating from the tenting area and on inspection find it coming from small generators which allow for the on site preparation of the dogs before entering the show ring in pristine condition.
It should be noted that the judging fraternity has for many a year included a contingent from these very shores and the year 2003 is no exception. They take with them to put on offer a vast wealth of experience and will ply their trade at the forth coming Hatbro Shows on the 2nd and 3rd October. Geoff Corish, well respected handler, judge and regular visitor of the weekend events for the past 15 years is to preside over Sealyhams, Scotties, Shi Tzus and Lhasa Apsos on the first day before judging American Cockers, Pharaoh Hounds and Skye Terriers on the second day.
Another notable judge from here in the UK is Joy Taylor of the renowned Nanfan affix and prior to writing this article was recovering from a stay in hospital but Im assured all will be fine on the day and a speedy recovery is wished and expected. Also attending is Phillip Greenway who is a first time visitor and no doubt will be looking forward very much to the experience. He is to judge the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers on the first day of Harbro before overseeing the Irish, Lakeland and Welsh Terriers on the following day. These are but to name a few and look forward to seeing them cast their eyes over the breeds in the US and even more interested to hear their thoughts afterwards.
Once the judging is over its off to the trade stands where one can very quickly max out ones credit card as almost everything one can imagine and more can be found. From expensive jewellery to cuddly toys, grooming equipment to memorabilia you name it and more than likely it will be there. Remember that what you see on the first day may not be available by the end of the week and so the golden rule is if you like what you see buy it or risk disappointment later. For my own breed, the Wheaten Club hold a Boutique in the hotel used as breed headquarters for the weekend and where everything for sale is Wheaten orientated.
Day two is also at Harboro albeit with the breeds being judged by a different judge for the day but nevertheless still very enjoyable. On the Saturday morning the dog showing continues only this time theres a change of venue and the show is held by Devon Dog Club. Unlike Harbro there is no overseas hospitality tent here although it is a most picturesque site and the show is very enjoyable.
I cannot speak for other breeds but for the Wheaten the SCWTCA hold their Puppy Sweepstakes in the afternoon back at the hotel used as headquarters which means a mad dash after the morning judging. The Sweepstakes is exclusively for 6 to 18 month old dogs and presided over by an aspiring judge not yet licensed to judge at specialty shows (like our champ shows with CCs on offer). The mad dash back to the hotel is more than worth it as a vast array of beautiful young dogs are on show.
It may seem all rather hectic and to a certain degree it is but there is yet more and one cannot possibly fit in everything on the first visit giving good reason to return perhaps next year. Included in these few days are tutorial and educational events with prominent guest speakers while for those interested theres obedience and agility trials held during the first two days of the show weekend. As you can see it is a wise idea to get hold of an itinerary for the week and plan out just what you can and cant do. Most breed clubs can provide such an item.
Sunday brings the spectacular Montgomery County Kennel Club All Terrier Show held in the grounds of Ambler Campus Temple University. Again you can register at the overseas hospitality tent, again a good meeting place, and then buying your catalogue complete with souvenir pen sets you up for the day. It can be said that the equivalent here would be our National Terrier show but this is where the similarity ends for Montgomery is a spectacle to be seen and an atmosphere to behold. It should be noted here that the Wheaten has one of the largest entries of the show and the task before the judge can seem quite daunting.
Having to take a break for lunch the splendour and sheer amazement at the spectacle of the Best of Breed class as some 70 or more Wheatens made up of champions mostly along with Veterans and Winners dog and bitch line up to contest for the coveted title of BOB. The judge on choosing their BOB does so to thunderous applause from all quarters without exception no matter which dog was chosen. The judge also selects their BOS (Best of Opposite Sex) and BOW (Best of Winners). The entry in the year 2001 was 218 Wheatens, as opposed to another notable show Westminster where perhaps only a dozen or so gain entry. As with other breeds they come to gather from all corners of the United States, which gives you some idea of the status held by the shows. Following Group judging which inevitably produces the BIS winner there is no anti-climax such as, oh well that was that for another year, there is still a buzz about the place as the new friends promise to keep in touch and old friends promise to call and then everyone remembers that there is still the last night back at the hotel and well you can guess the rest.
I tell you about this wonderful weekend in the hope that my enthusiasm for the event rubs off on you and perhaps plant the seed which may see you booking your flight for the next Montgomery weekend which in actual fact ideally lasts for at least a week. From this small insight into the events known affectionately as Montgomery Weekend you can be assured that you will be received with a warm welcome and when at the end of the week you come to go home it will leave you planning the next time you will return.