I have been involved in the dog world since the mid 1970’s. I and my husband have bred multiple champions in American Cocker Spaniels, English Pointers, Beagles and Kerry Blue Terriers. I have always been very involved in any club I have joined and always felt that it was important to give back to the sport and help it not only survive but thrive. I first worked for a professional handler for a decade and then became a professional handler myself for several more decades. I always continued to be a breeder and an owner handler and finished many if not most of our dogs (all whelped in our home by me!) from the bred-by-exhibitor classes. I also worked for 16 years as a Specialty Show Secretary even while I handled and still kept my own breeding program moving forward simply because I saw a need for someone to do that job and help specialty clubs survive. It was another way for me to give back to the sport that I love. I am also a farmer raising beef, pork and poultry for myself and for friends and I am involved with several Poultry breed clubs. My hobbies outside of dogs are collecting cookbooks (currently at over 1000 in my library), cooking of course, miniatures, 1:12th Scale Miniature Gardening and painting.
Once I retired from both handling and show secretary work (I am still a breeder/Exhibitor) I leapt back into my art which I had set aside for showing dogs professionally and traveling to do so. So now my second (or third or fourth?) career in dogs includes painting portraits of our exhibitors/breeders beautiful beloved dogs. How lucky am I that I know so many people who breed such beautiful dogs and I get to paint them! So now I have become a vendor at dog shows (Art by Odebt) as well as still being an all breed show chairman! I love capturing the dogs for all eternity in art and often help memorialize them for ever too. I don’t have a website yet but my art work can be viewed at www.facebook.com/ArtByOdebt.
When did you join your first specialty or all breed club?
I first joined the San Gabriel Cocker Spaniel Fanciers Club back in 1981 as a complete newbie to dog clubs and after a couple of years exhibiting dogs. That club no longer exists but it was a valuable experience while it lasted. Then my husband and I were charter members of the Pointer Club of Southern California not long after and until we moved to Colorado. My first all breed club that I joined was the Colorado Springs Kennel Club in Colorado in 1989 and I am still currently a life member of that club and I am also currently a member of the Garden City Kansas Kennel Club. We were also founding members of
the Colorado Pointer Club and were previously members of the American Pointer Club.
What offices have you held before becoming a Show Chairman?
I have served repeatedly as president, board member, historian and also show secretary for a few of the specialty clubs we have belonged to.
What is the greatest challenge facing your club?
Having enough show exhibitors/breeders involved with the club as members to keep it going and of course the financial challenges of a remotely located club.
Have you sought out sponsorship to help the cost of the show?
We are a remotely located, small club in a small but growing city. Our entry numbers have not qualified us for big company sponsorships and our location has handicapped us with other possible sponsors.
Your Club is somewhat isolated. How do you manage to pull such a nice entry every
Once I got involved with the club we worked hard to make it a friendly, welcoming and exhibitor friendly club. We also worked hard to get judges that are not always seen every weekend in our region and we support provisional judges as much as we can. Our exhibitors tell us how much they appreciate that and we do our best to listen to our exhibitors. We also have very nice grounds and though our city is small it has everything a dog exhibitor needs. We do the extra work required to keep our puppy and bred-by-Exhibitor groups as well as now offering NOHS competition all show days. We also offer 100% equal awards for our NOHS groups and our regular groups knowing that both deserve equal respect.
Is your vendor income sufficient to help offset expenses?
Our vendor fees do not do much in the way of offsetting show expenses but our exhibitors appreciate having vendors there so we continue to welcome them. Most of our vendors are small business owners and most are exhibitors themselves. We are lucky to have one all round dog show supply vendor who comes to our shows every year.
Do you use professional stewards? If not, who trains yours?
We do not and can not afford professional stewards. We generally call on club members, club member spouses and club supportive exhibitors that have helped us out for years. Any opportunity that we have to train new club members to steward we hold a class at a meeting or two. We have also used local youth group volunteers to do the outside steward job allowing our experienced stewards to do the inside ring job to keep things flowing and of course we offer free lunch to everyone who stewards.
Are you involved in the judges selection process?
I do 100% of the judges selection at this point in time as the show chairman. I bring the most experience now that our older show experienced members no longer have the energy nor desire to do the job. They did it for many years and for that the club and I are eternally grateful. Having been an exhibitor and also a professional handler for decades I have a pretty good idea of who the judges are and also of what the exhibitors are looking for or hoping for in a panel. Any club member that offers suggestions is always listened to as well but the numbers and assignments have to work first
What activities other than conformation do you offer?
Besides conformation we also offer rally and obedience trials and we also offer either round table discussions or panel discussion each year for our exhibitors with a few of our judges participating. During the rest of the year we offer obedience classes that are open to the public and we often do a meet the breeds event.
Tell us about your Juniors programs or Pee Wee programs.
Our club offers scholarships to our junior members or to children of members. We have also offer Junior and 4H handling seminars when ever we can get enough interest and we welcome Juniors to participate in our Obedience classes that the club offers to the public. We have found that inviting kids to join our obedience classes is a great way to also introduce them to conformation and the dog
Does the judges’ hotel have a restaurant? Shuttle to the show?
The hotel we use for judges has a restaurant that is right next store and connected to the sister hotel on the same property. We use this particular hotel for our judges because it is currently the only hotel in the city that offers a shuttle service! They do let us use it not only to and from the airport but also to and from the show grounds.
Do you pick up your judges or prefer them to rent cars or use ride share?
We make sure that the shuttle service has their schedules and when needed we have a few stand by members who are available for rides. Because of our remote location we rarely have judges who drive and we really can not afford to reimburse them if they rent a car.
What type of lunch do you offer judges? Any organized judges’ dinner or activity?
We are blessed with a member who sets up the judges lunch with a different caterer each day. In the past we have also had members who could cook a wonderful spread of homemade foods which were highly complimented by our judges! We no longer offer any judges dinners due to the misperceptions of exhibitors who fear that if judges socialize with club members that there will be some favoritism or cheating going on so now we do what we need to to avoid such misperceptions. As a show chairman I never show at our shows and no members of my family do either and no dogs owned or co-owned by me or my family are exhibited either. As a club we do love the time spent with our judges and exhibitors who choose to participate in our panel discussions or round tables and we do offer a dinner that is included with that event. It really brings judges and exhibitors together and lets exhibitors get to know judges some on a more personal level and sometimes it even allows exhibitors understand that judges are just dog people like they are!
Who handles in-ring hospitality during judging?
Our club member who runs the judges lunch room will do it or they have runners who are volunteers who go around and check on judges needs during judging.
Do your Club members pitch in?
We have a great club that though small has very involved members. Some have had the same jobs for years and others step in and do what is needed. We even have members who have had to move away from the city and yet continue to come back and help during the shows! Many of our club members are just dog owners who want to be involved with dogs and they don’t even show or compete! A club is only as capable as it’s members. One of the things I found extremely important is making sure that the members and volunteers know they are not only needed but very much appreciated. I do all I can to be positive, supportive and I work hard to keep things positive even when negative things happen. Whining never solves any issues and bickering among members is the most destructive thing that can happen to any club.
Do you have an idea for judges’ gifts that will be appreciated?
We used to do judges gifts but eventually gave it up due to almost all of our judges flying in and not wanting to have to pack things on the trip home. When most of our judges expressed that they were just happy getting the assignment and appreciated the hard work we do taking care of them while they are at our shows we decided to no
longer offer judges gifts. I think most of them knew that when you hire as many judges as we do with all of our provisional judges that it ended up costing the club more than it should. We do attempt to make their visit and their job the best it can be.
Any tips or suggestions for struggling clubs?
Be kind and thoughtful of your exhibitors first and foremost. Without our exhibitors there is no reason to hold a show. Take care of your exhibitors and they will take care of you. Make good use of new/provisional and breeder judges as often as you can and if you can take the time to find them there are a lot of foreign judges who are affordable and delight in coming to America for a lot less than you expect. Exhibitors want to hear new and different opinions of their dogs which is something that our provisional judges and foreign judges can offer!
What’s your favorite part of the show?
I love a few things. I love that we have live performers sing the National Anthem to start each show day. I love greeting the exhibitors as they come to show their dogs (so many are old friends anyhow) and even the spectators who come wanting to know more about our dog show world. Then our panel discussions have become a part of our shows that I look forward to each year as they open up discussion between exhibitors and judges alike. Then one of the best things that happens is after we (the hard working members) are all ready to go home after the longest and last day, the clean up and wrap up we always stop and congratulate each other on a job well done, all the while knowing that we now have to start planning the next year!