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A Front Row Seat | There’s No Better Place to View Best of the Best

Front row view at a dog show.


A Front Row Seat – There’s No Better Place to View Best of the Best

Most every exhibitor has a favorite chair they bring along to dog shows, performance events, and training sessions. Mine is one of those folding director’s chairs with a side table, cup holder, and plenty of pockets. It was given to me by a good friend following a particularly notable win with a dog we’d co-owned, and it’s embroidered with my kennel name and the name of our favorite breed. The chair goes wherever I go, often becoming a front row seat at all-breed shows and national specialties. Sitting in that chair, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through the years, and together, we’ve sat ringside to watch the best of the best compete at some spectacular events.


At the 88th Annual Montgomery County Kennel Club all-terrier show in Macungie, Pennsylvania, I watched some great judging, including Lee Whittier’s impressive entry of 56 Glen of Imaal Terriers. Ring 8 was the location for observing this charming Irish breed, which is not often seen in such numbers. As is expected of The Dog Show Mentor, Lee used her ring thoughtfully, examining each dog in the shade of the club’s signature white tent before giving the entrants full use of a ring swathed in a carpet of freshly-mown grass and bathed in the glorious light of an “Indian Summer” sun.

Class after class of these game and spirited terriers made their presence known until the ring was completely encircled with champion blue, brindle, and wheaten wonders. As I sat mesmerized by the sight, I turned to my right to find SHOWSIGHT contributor Michael Nehlinson enjoying the show too. Like me, he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to pull up a chair and watch a great judge sort through a great entry at the Greatest Terrier Show in the World.


On November 18 & 19, the National Dog Show Presented by Purina returns once again to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania. This iconic show is a great place to bring a comfortable chair, as it is one of the few remaining (the only remaining?) benched shows in America. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s show on Saturday is especially important as portions are recorded for a Thanksgiving Day broadcast on NBC.

This single event introduces millions of viewers to the beauty and versatility of the purebred dog, and unlike so many shows today, it continues to welcome visitors by the thousands. At this show, spectators have a chance to meet the dogs and their people up close and personal. Decorated set-ups and costumed canines are all part of the fun, and the benching areas allow for exchanges between breeders and puppy buyers that rarely take place in person anymore. For those who long for the “good ol’ days” of showing dogs, this show is not to be missed.

front row seat
A front row seat at Montgomery is well worth it. photo by Dan Sayers


Who wants to sit ringside at a show in Florida at Christmastime? Just about everyone, right? Well, in December, all roads lead to “Orlando” where exhibitors and their dogs gather to compete at the Orange County Convention Center for the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin. This year-end celebration in the sun, which takes place on December 16 & 17, has quickly become one of the most important dog events in the world.

There’s so much to see and do at this show. The 23rd annual event will feature a Best Bred-By-Exhibitor competition as well as the AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals, AKC Royal Canin National All-Breed Puppy and Junior Stakes, AKC Agility Invitational, AKC Fast CAT Invitational, the Obedience Classic, and the Agility, Conformation, Obedience, and Rally events for Juniors. Fanciers of all ages from across the country and around the globe will be there to observe and compete, attend seminars and parties, and shop for those last-minute gifts and doggy doodahs. The atmosphere is always filled with excitement and there’s a collective anticipation to find out who’s going to finish the year on top.

At these shows, and at every event where people gather to celebrate the beauty and versatility of purebred dogs, a simple folding chair easily becomes a front row seat for viewing the best of the best.