When one of your golf-playing acquaintances refers scornfully to someone who has Gone To The Dogs, he’s referring to one of us. We just happen to think we have the very finest leisure time activity going; one that is more than just a hobby, it’s a life-style. I’ve been told that the only other group of people which compares to us in their fervor is the parents of little leaguers. Though, I think that some of the Internet devotees are likely to be in the same realm soon as well.

As a veterinarian, I find myself trying to reason with some of my pet owning clients to alter their living arrangements to accommodate their pet. Some of them find this an incredibly strange perspective, saying ‘What do you want me to do? Move for my dog’s benefit?’ Well, of course this is what I mean! Dealing as I do with dog breeding and exhibiting clients, most of them have already done so. It’s only natural in my world. This is the world of The Dog Fancy.

Dog fanciers collect chain link fence, and value it as though it was gold bouillon. Crates (wire or fiberglass cages) come a close second.

Dog fanciers go to the grocery store and buy $95.00 worth of kibble, canned food, milk bones and plastic garbage bags. Also a couple of cheap TV dinners for themselves – say about $5.00 worth.

Dog fanciers drive mini-vans, full-size vans, stretch vans, high top custom vans, and cube trucks. Also frequently a travel trailer or a motor home. Many own two vans; his and hers.

Dog fanciers go out to eat at nice places on weekends with their buddys and entertain the adjacent diners with discussions of how difficult it is to chop the ‘poops’ out of the ice and snow.

Dog fanciers travel up to 50 weekends a year, from state to state, coast to coast, and country to country attending shows.

Dog fanciers who engage in the field activities, such as herding or hunting trials, must be suitably provided with appropriate accessories - camo gear, shotguns, rubber bumpers and starters pistols, or Australian oiled dusters and their own flock of sheep.

Dog fanciers all have at least one shirt which proclaims that ‘My Dog Walks All Over Me’, and they wear it proudly.

Dog fanciers meet their friends at the show every weekend and enjoy a continuing party celebrating their communion with each other and above all, with their reason for being there, their dog. They will be quick to encourage you to spell that word backward. Make no mistake about it, this celebration of an entire species frequently does more than just border on worship.

Two competitors being 'set up' and one 'free baiting' in the conformation ring.

The sport of showing dogs encompasses many activities, some of which have nothing to do with ‘showing’ per se. It would be difficult to call herding sheep, or hunting birds showing.

A Fancier may have one dog, which may compete in one activity year after year, or may go from one activity to another, mastering many. Or, the household may be centered around many dogs, with sons and daughters of the original Star working their way through the different levels of competition.

Outdoor shows - colorful tents, green grass, beautiful sunshine; and if it rains, the show must go on!

There are so many American Kennel Club sanctioned activities that I will probably overlook some here. There is something for most every one, dog or keeper.

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