What is ‘Meet the Breeds’?

Dog shows across the U.S. often hold Meet the Breed events that allow spectators the chance to see dogs up close and to learn more about various breeds. At two of the highest profile shows in the country — the AKC National Championship in Orlando, Fla., and the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York City — the Basset Hound Club of America in association with our regional breed clubs organizes booths to give visitors an opportunity to become educated about our breed, petting our dogs and talking to experienced breeders and exhibitors about what it's like to share our lives with Basset Hounds.

Here are reports from these Meet the Breed events during the past year.

Meet the Breeds, 2019 AKC National Championship, Orlando, Fla.

BHCA was well-represented at the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, Dec 17-18, at the Orange County Convention Center in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Our Meet the Breed booth featured a new educational display along with backdrops and displays showcasing the versatility and characteristics of our beautiful hounds. Various informational materials are offered to the public as they enjoy the displays and seeing the Basset Hound up close.

The booth is hosted by Suncoast Basset Hound Club with Sue Bathauer serving as liaison with the AKC event coordinator. Many thanks to the membership who turned out to support the booth with their Bassets and logistic support.

The Meet the Breed booth is one of BHCA’s highest profile opportunities to educate the public and attract prospective club members. The AKC National Championship presented by a Royal Canin showcases the top national and international canine athletes and also includes popular attractions such as the Best Bred-by-Exhibitor competition, the AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals, the AKC Royal Canin National All-Breed Puppy and Junior Stakes, AKC Meet the Breeds® and the NADD/AKC Dock Diving National Championship. The show takes place alongside the AKC Agility Invitational and AKC Obedience Classic, with junior events in each sport.

— contributed by Debbie Moore

Meet the Breeds, New York City, 2020

AKC Meet the Breeds was held in New York City on January 25 and 26. You are correct if you noticed that those dates do not coincide with Westminster. It seems that a cruise ship collided with one of the Piers where MTB was held last year. Unfortunately, the damage to the Pier is reported to be so substantial that the city can not afford to make repairs. As result, Westminster has been expanded to 3 days of competition (utilizing the remaining intact pier and Madison Square Garden). And Meet the Breeds was moved back to the Jacob Javits Center and returned as a 2 day event.

The massive crowds enjoying this event didn’t seem to mind the date and venue change at all. I haven’t seen actual numbers but rumors report that the Saturday attendance was in excess of 55,000 and Sunday was in excess of 48,000.

As you all know Suncoast Basset Hound Club does a fantastic job of representing our breed with their 20’ booth every year in Orlando in December. Debbie Moore is an expert booth designer. Sue Bathauer coordinates the staff and educational material. And Norm Wiginton often attends in costume entertaining the crowd all weekend long. Their booth is beautiful and has many basset hounds to meet and greet and many club members attending to answer questions posed by booth visitors. They do the parent club proud year after year!

In New York City Berkshire Valley Basset Hound Club staffs the parent club breed booth. This year Hank Scully, Brian Visokay, Barbara Mercer, Jack McCullagh and Sue Smyth were there with basset hounds greeting the crowd from 9 am to 5 pm all weekend. On behalf of BHCA, I want to thank all of our devoted club members who year after year spend long hours preparing for and staffing these events.

Some of the challenges noted this year in NYC (occurring as result of moving back to the Jacob Javits Center) included: difficulty finding parking lots/garages, expensive parking lots/garages (this is a problem in Florida too), distance required to walk back (alone) to the JJC from various parking lots/garages, missing Harry Miller Boys who have assisted with moving in and out in the past, and timed unloading in a small parking area. The challenges are not limited to the above but they were the most obvious.

The Jacob Javits Center is a huge entity, encompassing several blocks in NYC. Unfortunately, while MTB was taking place there was also a huge boat show taking place within the Jacob Javits Center (on another floor), and a travel show, on yet a third floor. This accounts for the parking difficulty in that area of the city.

AKC requires coming in early Saturday morning to set up each booth (or better yet come into the city on Friday and set up). Upon arriving early on Saturday, there is limited parking space in the small unloading area with NYC police monitoring the minutes permitted to unload all of the equipment, dogs, crates, booth decorations and educational material from each vehicle. AKC sent out an email designating approved methods to move these supplies into the building and to each booth space. Thankfully crate Dollys were approved. Can you imagine how many trips it takes to move a van full of items into a cavernous building, searching for your booth number, rush to unload items, hurry back outside to your vehicle and repeat this scenario several times while being monitored/rushed by NYC police? Bear in mind that the car may not be left unattended and someone should be with the dogs when you move them into the booth. Therefore having 3 people available to assist with this endeavor is almost a requirement.

The club members who volunteer to staff our booths devote many long hours of preparation in addition to answering thousands of questions over a period of 8+ hours, two days in a row. Each of us returned home at night. This venue usually requires getting up by 4 am, driving into the city at 6 am, unloading and parking by 7 am and booth set up by 9 am to greet the enormous crowds. We finished each day by 5 pm, walked to retrieve cars from distant lots in the dark to get in line and enter the small unloading lot to pick up dogs, etc. (they can not be left in the building over night) then spend hours driving back home. In several cases getting home by 9 pm (too tired to eat dinner) and get back up at 4 am Sunday to repeat the routine. While waiting in long lines Sunday night for a space in the tiny unloading lot I had a chance to talk to many booth coordinators and volunteers. It was noted that we are all getting older and while happy to educate the public about our beloved dogs, it is an exhausting venture for an aging population.

You may wonder why I am detailing all that is involved with designing, supplying and staffing a breed club booth at one of AKC’s Meet the Breeds events. AKC has decided to expand the number of cities in which to hold additional Meet the Breeds events. Philadelphia will be holding a new Meet the Breeds event on June 6 and 7 at the Oaks Expo Center. An email will be going out to the BHCA membership seeking regional clubs interested in representing our parent club at this new event. Additional Meet the Breeds events will be added in major cities throughout the US shortly.

I want to thank Berkshire Valley Basset Hound Club members for volunteering to participate on this new date (and miss the Wildwood show circuit). I also want to thank Michael Canalizo for all of his hard work and for sending a survey to each parent club asking for input/suggestions and Amy Hamernick for detailed, frequent communication and answering many questions so quickly.

To conclude on a very positive note, BVBHC truly enjoyed representing BHCA at the AKC Meet the Breeds event in NYC and looks forward to continuing to do so for many years in the future.

— contributed by Sue Nelson Smyth, BHCA Public Education Coordinator