The sport of dogs and dog shows are not one and the same. Though conformation shows have always been the most visible type of event offered by the American Kennel Club, their prominence has been challenged by an expanded offering of companion events and performance sports. (Of course, the global pandemic and the event cancellations that followed haven’t been too helpful either.) Thankfully, many hard-working show chairs, superintendents, and AKC field reps—together with a cadre of dedicated judges, ring stewards, and volunteers—have managed to “keep the lights on” at various show sites throughout the country. For fanciers who have been able and willing to attend these events, dog shows have endured. However, for the majority of breeders and exhibitors, participation in the “sport” has been limited to home-based connectivity and virtual dog training.
Here are just of few of the online resources that have been keeping our community and dogs virtually connected.
Dogs Virtually in the Web of Wonder
What did we do before we had instant access to websites? People may enjoy complaining about them, but there’s no denying the usefulness of a good website for dispensing news and information. Show results are certainly a useful feature, however, there’s so much more to the sport than bragging rights and boasting. To find breed-specific data, Showsight (showsightmagazine.com) offers a convenient and comprehensive library of digital breed magazines on a new site that has been rebranded, The Place for Purebred Dogs with Purpose. (And you don’t even need a library card.)
AKC Canine College
Can anyone pass up FREE continuing education classes? The AKC Canine College (caninecollege.akc.org) offers a variety of complimentary online courses designed to assist judges, exhibitors, and breeders with topics ranging from anatomy and selection to whelping and medical intervention. Several free webinars are available for review as are procedural videos that address important assessment skills, including oral examinations, chest spanning procedures, and the proper way to lift a Pekingese. Additional breed-specific courses are offered for a nominal fee.
AKC MoD Virtual Tours
Canine historians and dog lovers the world over can visit the AKC Museum of the Dog (museumofthedog.org) from the comfort and safety of their living room or home office. The world-class institution offers interactive online access to various AKC MoD collections, providing devotees of both dogs and art the opportunity to leisurely stroll through the institution’s many galleries. The current exhibition, Hollywood Dogs, can be viewed for a one-dollar donation. Access to previous exhibitions, including Presidential Dogs and Best in Show: Past Winners at Westminster, are free.
Most exhibitors are familiar with AKC TV (akc.tv) through its livestream coverage of some of the largest and most prestigious dog shows in America. Perhaps lesser known is the network’s catalog of dog-related topics that appeal to both the third-generation fancier and the green-as-grass newcomer. The site’s video library includes programs that cover everything from training tips and nutrition to a Junior Handler Spotlight and Vet’s Corner. This is television for dog people.
Who hasn’t learned a thing or two from social media? Social networking services like Facebook and Instagram offer members the chance to participate freely in virtual communities that can teach and uplift—or taunt and tear-down. The choice, of course, is up to each member. Benevolent breeders with a penchant for education and encouragement use these sites to share photos of breeders and dogs of yore, and to pose thoughtful questions that may be relevant to today’s enthusiasts.
The desire to teach and a willingness to learn have always been elemental to the sport’s success. Thanks to the cyber classroom, fanciers are able to continue their education—and keep dogs virtually connected—even when the show has been cancelled.