We are the World

By the time you read this most of you will have experienced at least five to six months of life without attending a dog show or trial. For most of us, our experiences in dealing with the Covid–19 pandemic will differ greatly. One thing we can all count on is that the situation has indeed impacted our world of dog shows, field trials, agility, obedience, and rally, as well as all things associated with the sport.

Show and trial chairs throughout the United States as well as the rest of the world are being faced with extremely tough decisions regarding the resumption of events in a safe and workable environment for all members of the fancy. Different states—as well as facilities—have new restrictions and rules that have an impact on when and how clubs will be able to return to venues sensibly and practically.

For some of these clubs, the rules and restrictions will create more cancellations of events until that time when a vaccine or some other medical breakthrough will get us back to normal. However, for those clubs that are trying to continue to put on events, there is no question that major changes are in the works.

Anyone with a computer and a Facebook (or other type of social networking) account has already seen the multiple reactions within the fancy in regards to proposed changes for upcoming shows and trials. The suggested or mandated changes are already creating divisiveness within the ranks. At some venues, there will be no indoor grooming, or limited grooming, with absolutely no use of hairdryers, powders, chalk, or anything that might easily be spread around the facility. Practicing social distancing in the grooming areas as well as around the rings will be interesting to observe. Judges and exhibitors wearing masks and practicing other safety measures will also add time to an already long day for many. Ring stewards as well as judges will encounter masses of people during a show. While we hope many will practice safe and healthy practices, it is foolish to believe that everyone will follow the rules. >

There are already people posting that those with RV’s and private generators will have an unfair advantage because they will be able to groom and blow dry, etc. at their respective vehicles. Some have been around for many years and remember when electricity and other perks of today’s show sites were not available and the sport did well and enjoyed great growth. In those days of yore, shows were one day events with exhibitors moving from show to show every day with no drop-off in entries. Many sites were outdoors and at fairgrounds or other venues with tenting, porta-potties and no hookups, often with just a field to park in.

Over time, we have experienced many changes in our sport and we are now facing another change that is being forced upon us by an outside influence we have no control over. Our task is [to determine] how we attack the changes and learn to work together to make it work for the greater good and not just a
privileged few.

While sitting home on the weekends, I have watched more TV than normal. I happened to watch the season finale of the American Idol competition. During the finale, Lionel Ritchie and a group of current performers sang “We Are The World” for the first time in over 35 years. The song was written by the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie. It is a song that resonates with people trying to make our world a better place. The words tell a practical story;



There comes a time when we heed a certain call

When the world must come together as one

There are people dying

And it’s time to lend a hand to life

The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day

That someone somehow will soon make a change

We are all a part Gods great big family

And the truth, you know

Love is all we need


We are the world, we are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So lets start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me

Send them your heart

So they’ll know that someone cares

And their lives will be stronger and free

As God has shown us by turning stones to bread

So we all must lend a helping hand


When you’re down and out

There seems no hope at all

But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall

Let us realize that a change can only come

When we stand together as one

As we move toward the future, are you willing to sacrifice and stand together as one? Will you be a happy and productive part of a successful solution? We need to bond and learn to love and respect each other in a time that will test many. Our future as a sport depends upon every person doing their part. We are the Dog Show World and we can make it happen.

  • Walter Sommerfelt of Lenoir City, TN has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since acquiring his first Old English Sheepdog in 1972. He is a former professional handler as well as a breeder, and exhibitor of breeds in all seven groups, most notably Vizslas, OES, Pointers, Bearded Collies and Weimaraners. Judging since 1985 he is approved for All Sporting, Working, and Herding breeds and groups, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show and has had the honor of judging on four different continents. Mr. Sommerfelt has judged many of the most prestigious shows in the United States including the herding group at the 2014 Westminster Dog Show in New York City where he has judged on three separate occasions. Mr. Sommerfelt was the founder and chairman for the St. Jude Showcase of Dogs from 1993 until 2009, a unique event showcasing the world of purebred dogs. This special event was the largest collection of various dog events in one location, featuring an AKC all Breed Dog Show, AKC Obedience and Rally Trials, AKC Agility trials, (prior to AKC adding agility NADAC trials ) One of the largest Fly ball tournaments in the U.S.A., Herding and go to ground demonstrations, A main stage featuring performances by Canines from Television and the Movies, Freestyle, Demos by drug and various therapy dogs, A full room of booths for meet the breeds, over 50 AKC judges seminars annually, Lure coursing, A fun Zone for Children, and other dog related fun activities for the general public and their dogs. Over the years the event not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, but also raised awareness of the many activities for people with their dogs as well establishing a voice for dog people in the Memphis area with regard to legislation. Many aspects of today’s AKC Royal Canin show can be traced back to the St. Jude event. Along with Carol his wife of 36 years they have bred well over 90 AKC Champions including Group, Best in Show and Specialty Winners, dual Champions and multiple performance titled dogs. During the past 40 years Mr. Sommerfelt has been active in a number of dog clubs and is currently the President of the Tennessee Valley Kennel Club. He is recipient of the AKC outstanding Sportsmanship Award and is also a career agent and financial planning specialist with Nationwide Insurance. The Sommerfelts’ have two grown children, both former Junior Handlers and they are still active breeders and exhibitors of the Vizsla breed.

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

AKC Best in Show 2020

Watching the 2020 AKC National Championships

Watching the AKC National Championships due to our COVID-19 protocols and enhanced safety measures ...

Our Community Rises to the Challenge of 2020

To say that this year has been challenging would be a gross understatement. We ...

AKC Lauded for 2020 National Championship Dog Show Safety Protocols

AKC Lauded for 2020 National Championship Dog Show Safety Protocols

The American Kennel Club’s commitment to dog show participant safety during the COVID-19 pandemic ...

Covid 19 and the Dog Show Community – PART 1

SPRING 2020 Q&A  – PART 1   We recently asked our readership a series of ...

Your Cart

No Item Found
Subtotal $0.00
Shipping $0.00
Tax $0.00
Total $0.00