The Learning Cluster

Handlers: How ‘OK’ Was Oklahoma?

  1. When did you decide to enter the shows in Oklahoma?
  2. How many days were you showing?
  3. How far did you travel to get there?
  4. How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19?
  5. Were rules noticeably enforced?
  6. Did exhibitors practice social distancing?
  7. What was it like to show without spectators?
  8. How “clean” did you find the facility overall?
  9. Was everyone wearing a mask? Did your dog(s) react to them?
  10. Were you pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances
    and exits)?
  11. What about armband pick-up? Ribbon pick-up?
  12. Do you have any thoughts about the procedure for taking
    win photos?
  13. How would you rate your experience overall?
  14. Would you say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow?
  15. Is there anything that could have been done differently?
  16. Are you planning to attend other shows that are held this year?
  17. Do you have a message that you’d like to share with the dog show community?

Michael & Linda Brantley

When did we decide to enter the shows in Oklahoma? As soon as we heard about it.

How many days were we showing? All four days.

How far did we travel to get there? We traveled about 350 miles.

How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19? Amazingly well organized and executed. Many different things were tried to see what would work best for everyone.

Were rules noticeably enforced? Completely!

Did exhibitors practice social distancing? Yes. In spite of old friends who had not seen each other for months wanting to give each other a hug, we all refrained, and kept proper distance from each other as well as wearing masks the whole time.

What was it like to show without spectators? I didn’t really notice as I was focusing on my dogs.

How “clean” did we find the facility overall? Very! The area was continually being disinfected and cleaned by the Onofrio guys and volunteers from Southern Handlers.

Was everyone wearing a mask and did our dog react to them? Yes, and boy, are my ears sore from having one on all week! I may need to get ones that don’t hook on the ears. I noticed very few dogs reacting to the masks, so I don’t think they will be an issue—rather I can see them becoming a fashion accessory.

Were we pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances and exits)? Yes. I believe it was more efficient and saved the judges time in the end.

Were we pleased with the armband and ribbon pick-up? I loved picking up the ribbons as we left the ring; and as we tried several different things on picking up armbands, I felt that picking them up the evening before or the morning of the show as has been done in Canada worked the best.

Do we have any thoughts about the procedure for taking win photos? It was much more conducive to taking pictures and easier on both the judges and exhibitors to having the photographer put the judge into the photos later.

How would we rate our experience overall? It was a good one, and one that could have the result of better dogs being shown since, with fewer shows, the top dogs were all at the same show.

Would we say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? Yes. Very much so.

Is there anything that we believe could have been done differently? I can not be critical of anything that this group did to make these shows happen. The amount of work that went into this
was phenomenal!

Are we planning to attend other shows that are held this year? Yes, when possible.

Do we have a message that we’d like to share with the dog show community? Don’t give up! We can do this sport safely and have fun.

Holly Leftwich

When did I decide to enter the shows in Oklahoma? As soon as I heard about it.

How many days was I showing? All four days.

How far did I travel to get there? I traveled 6.5 hours.

How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19? Very well considering this was a brand new situation.

Were rules noticeably enforced? For the most part. You can’t police everything and everyone at all times.

Did exhibitors practice social distancing? They were great the first couple of days, but by the end of the weekend some began to revert. In particular, during Groups some started grouping up.

What was it like to show without spectators? I loved it!

How “clean” did I find the facility overall? Very. They did a great job trying to keep everything sanitized.

Was everyone wearing a mask and did my dogs react to them? Yes. None of my dogs reacted to them.

Was I pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances and exits)? I did like the separate entrances. However, I did feel they were a little too far apart to be efficient. Judge and stewards were too far apart to actually hear one another; and same for exhibitors.

What about armband and ribbon pick-up? I loved having armbands displayed on the table to pick up. I also liked having all of my armbands in one envelope to pick up at the superintendent. I did not mind the ribbon pick-up, it just took some getting used to. I did not like having to pick up armbands from three different lines on the day they were separated by Groups.

Do I have any thoughts about the procedure for taking win photos? I honestly thought it was great. I took more photos than >
I usually would have because I did not have to wait for the judge’s schedule to work with mine.

How would I rate my experience overall? The show was great! Everyone involved did a spectacular job.

Would I say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? Definitely.

Is there anything that could have been done differently? I only saw one thing I thought could be different. I did not like that the rings were against a wall with people sitting directly above you. Also, this made it difficult to have a spray bottle or cool coat accessible since they did not allow assistants ringside to give them to you. There has to be a better way to keep your dog comfortable without crossing the ring or encroaching on someone’s six feet.

Am I planning to attend other shows that are held this year? Absolutely.

Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? We can make this work—adhering to the current guidelines. There is no reason shows can’t be both fun and safe moving forward. I have faith the show world can make it happen.

Barbara McNeill

When did I decide to enter the shows in Oklahoma? The news about the dog show was posted on social media by The Southern Handlers Association about three weeks before the entries opened. They announced we would have a “Learning Cluster” at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, so immediately I wanted to enter. When I received the news entries were opened, I submitted my entries within 30 minutes. The show was full within 50 minutes of entries opening.

How many days was I showing? The Learning Cluster was a four day show. I entered the entire show, but only showed three days.

How far did I travel to get there? I was so fortunate that the Lazy E Arena is located 40 minutes from my house.

How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19? The superintendent for the show was Jack Onofrio Dog Shows, LLC. Their entire staff was on top of their game not only with masks, but poly shields surrounding the superintendent’s table, hand sanitizer everywhere, and a pleasant attitude. The Southern Handlers Association (SHA) went above and beyond organizing the grooming area, “social distancing,” RV parking, and the unloading area.

Were rules noticeably enforced? SHA oversaw unloading, setup, and explaining new ring procedures. We filed into the arena one at a time with proper distancing to set up. They placed signs around the arena to remind us of masks, distancing, and proper grooming area setup. They did a fabulous job with spacing out the grooming area so that we were all more than six feet apart with wide aisles. Masks were enforced by the superintendent as well as SHA all day long; they patrolled the grooming area to ensure every exhibitor was in compliance.

Did exhibitors practice social distancing? Yes, they did. If you were part of a team, the team stayed together and [did not] infringe on other’s space. Single exhibitors kept their distance while waiting their turn in the ring. The hardest part was not being able to hug your friends or stand around chatting.

What was it like to show without spectators? The exhibitors were able to sit in the arena stands with a view of all the rings, so it felt as if we had a few spectators. As for a cheering section from spectators, it was a very empty feeling.

How “clean” did I find the facility overall? The Lazy E Arena was visibly on top of sanitation of all hard surfaces, and the signage was clear in the stands and grounds concerning social distancing.

Was everyone wearing a mask and did my dog react to them? Yes, masks were strictly enforced by the superintendent and SHA with polite reminders if exhibitors had their masks down. The dogs did very well, even the young puppies did not react to the new look of their handlers. Very few dogs had an adverse reaction to the masks.

Was I pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances and exits)? I personally loved the separate entrances and exits. The rings ran much smoother with this procedure. We did not have any log jams at the gate trying to get into the ring or out.

Was I pleased with the armband and ribbon pick-up? They tried two different methods of armband pickup: The armbands were placed on a table at the entrance to the ring in order of ring times. This method was simple and efficient. The second was to pick up your armbands at the superintendent’s table. While it was simple, it was not as time efficient because you had to find the time or someone to pick them up. However, if you had multiple entries they were all in one envelope.

Do I have any thoughts about the procedure for taking win photos? It was time-saving. You did not need to hunt the judge down to get a win photo. However, without interaction from the judge, it was a bit disenchanting.

How would I rate my experience overall? My overall experience was of pure joy to be back in the ring with my girl. Abiding by the new rules was not difficult at all.

Would I say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? Absolutely. The entire weekend went smoothly, as an exhibitor. The stress was on the superintendent and the SHA enforcing all the details. My sincere thanks goes to them for a job well done.

Is there anything that could have been done differently? I’m sure there are a number of things that the organizers would like to adjust, but from an exhibitor’s standpoint I do not have any complaints [about] how the show was executed.

Am I planning to attend other shows that are held this year? I will attend as many shows as possible [for the remainder] of this year.

Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? Please be grateful to the superintendent and the committee that works diligently to create a show during this time. It’s done with high regards to the well-being of all involved. Remember to thank the superintendent as well as the volunteers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Nicole Torre

When did I decide to enter the shows in Oklahoma? As soon as I heard about the cluster.

How many days was I showing? All four days.

How far did I travel to get there? 1,664 miles, all the way from California.

How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19? I thought it was well organized, considering we have never had a dog show in these circumstances before.

Were rules noticeably enforced? Yes, there were signs posted everywhere stating the rules and they were being enforced. I heard volunteers reminding people not to all stand around together. People were monitored when setting up crates, to make sure that every set-up was six feet apart and six feet from the rings. All grooming set ups were separated from one another. Ring Stewards also made sure that everyone stood [away] from the ring, went in the ring in order when it was their turn, and stayed apart from each other when in the ring. They also would remind people when in a large class to keep apart.

Did exhibitors practice social distancing? Yes, for the most part. Every once in a while people would forget and get too close in the ring or stop to talk outside the ring. It is in our nature to be social; it is hard to change what is natural overnight.

What was it like to show without spectators? Not really any different. Only thing you notice is it is quiet when you go around the ring.

How “clean” did I find the facility overall? Very. My grooming set-up was by the doors and the restrooms. I saw the venue’s staff go by every 15 minutes and clean the door handles and railings. The staff also went in and cleaned the restrooms every 30 minutes.

Was everyone wearing a mask and my dogs react to them? Yes, everyone was wearing a mask at all times. I never saw anyone without one on.

Was I pleased with the ring set-up? Yes, I loved this set-up and think it needs to stay this way with or without COVID. It was safer and easier not to have everyone in the same little area. It made the ring run quicker and smoother.

What about armband and ribbon pick-up? We tried four different ways of doing this. I think out of the four ways we tried picking them up by breed and the number at the superintendents table was the best. Personally, I think they should just be mailed with the judges program. If you are a handler or forget it, just make
one yourself. This way no one else has touched it, but you. I didn’t like any of the ways they tried to do the ribbons. Not that I was too worried about it, but I think the ribbons should be mailed.

Do I have any thoughts about the procedure for taking win photos? I loved the way they did it! So much easier to just walk over to the photo area and take your photo. No need to wait for the judge, the photographer puts the judge and ribbon in for you.

How would I rate my experience overall? Great. It was a 10—best organized dog show I have ever been to.

Would I say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? Yes, for sure. It was a success.

Is there anything that could have been done differently? There really wasn’t anything they could have done differently. They did a good job covering every aspect of the show. Only thing I think they could add is a temperature check at the door.

Am I planning to attend other shows that are held this year? Yes.

Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? Yes. Please be kind and remember that we are all family! We are all trying to keep this alive and it is a learning experience for us all. It is not easy changing lifetime habits. Don’t use this time to tear people down. Be kind! Love you all!

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