Specialties, Supported Entries and Sweepstakes at AKC Dog Shows

What are these? What are the differences between them? Why hold them in conjunction with an all-breed or group dog show? Read on for the answers to these questions.

Maryland Sporting Dog Association (MSDA) holds two of the largest AKC sporting dog group shows in the country, attracting hundreds of entries per day for a three-day weekend each spring that includes dog shows, obedience & rally trials, bird instinct clinics and other activities. At conformation events, i.e., dog shows, winners earn points toward championship titles. More points are awarded when more dogs are competing, so it’s desirable to attract as many competitors as possible. Increasing the number of entries often depends on the cooperation of many more dog clubs than just the sponsoring organization. In particular, there are individual breed clubs that will elect to hold a supported entry or a specialty associated with, or as a part of, an all-breed or group show such as MSDA’s. Sweepstakes are another popular means for expanding entries at an event (although these don’t award points).

Specialties:

Like all-breed or group shows, specialties are point shows, but they are limited to one breed. A specialty requires AKC approval and, unlike parent (national) breed clubs, regional clubs (e.g., the Potomac Irish Setter Club, or the Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club) may be awarded only two specialties each year.

Specialties generally fall into one of three varieties: independent, concurrent, and designated.

Independent Specialty:
Independent specialties are standalone events. They may be held as the only event that day/weekend at a location, or may be held on the same grounds but on a different day from other dog shows. MSDA’s “Spring Event” weekend has long included an independent specialty on Friday by the Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club (PVGRC). That specialty show is only for Golden Retrievers and is independent of the MSDA sporting group shows that happen on Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend.

The Friday specialty shows at MSDA’s Spring Event are organized by the breed clubs, which are responsible for obtaining permission from the AKC, arranging for judges and trophies, publishing their own premium list and show catalog, and contracting with the show superintendent.

However, it benefits both the specialty club and MSDA to coordinate their efforts. In the case of Spring Event, MSDA contracts with the venue for the site rental and related parking and security services and then essentially subcontracts a portion of the site to the specialty club for the hours of their show. Also, the same superintendent is used for all events of the weekend, simplifying setup. Food services (for judges and volunteers) may be shared or subcontracted. The clubs also may coordinate on selection of judges so that a judge working at the specialty might also judge at MSDA’s group show, if they have additional breeds that can be assigned.

This coordination saves the specialty club time, effort and potentially expense. If a judge can be used for all three days of MSDA’s Spring Event, for example, both MSDA and the specialty club may share that judge’s travel expenses, somewhat reducing the burden on both clubs.

The major benefit to both the all-breed or group club and the specialty club is that entrants will find it more worthwhile to attend if they can enter, for example, three dog shows instead of just one or two on a given weekend. This will tend to increase entries for both clubs’ shows. More entries generally translate into more points for the winners as well as more revenues and potentially an improved reputation for the clubs.

Recognizing the benefits of attracting more dogs, the club hosting the all-breed or group show(s) may offer some incentives for specialty clubs to schedule their event. For MSDA’s Spring Event, the specialty club’s subcontracted price for the venue may be significantly less than what it would have to pay for an entirely standalone event. The specialty club’s entrants also are able to take part in ancillary activities such as MSDA’s bird instinct clinic or a barn hunt “try-it”, which might be more difficult to organize for events attracting a smaller number of dogs. MSDA benefits by having more dogs stay to enter its weekend shows, and also gains revenue from parking and other fees such as those charged for the bird instinct clinics.

The downside of coordination, of course, is that compromises are necessary. Neither club will have as much flexibility to do what they want, when and where they want as they would have had if they were putting on an event entirely on their own.

Concurrent Specialty:
This is a separate specialty show held on the same grounds as a group or all-breed show on the same day. Like an independent specialty, the breed club must obtain permission from the AKC and make their own show-related arrangements. A concurrent specialty may offer great value to breeds who can do a second show on the same day since both club and exhibitor expense is spread over two events on a single day, while still providing an additional opportunity for earning points. The AKC limits concurrent specialties, and the breed judging at the host club’s event (e.g., to 100 entries per judge per ring for concurrent specialties at an all-breed show), and considerable coordination with (and permission from) the host club is required. Despite everyone’s best effort in scheduling, there is a possibility of running into a conflict with the judging at the host show on the same day. If this happens, an exhibitor who has paid to enter two events may have to decide, for example, if they prefer to stay in the breed competition of the concurrent specialty or compete in the group judging of the host show.

Designated Specialty:
This type of specialty is the most tightly integrated with the host show and occurs when classes at an all-breed or group show are “designated” as a specialty. Since it occurs entirely within the framework of a bigger show, casual observers watching the judging may not even realize that they are seeing a breed specialty. Although the breed club must obtain AKC approval for the specialty and will provide trophies, judges are assigned by the host club and specialty information is included in the host club’s premium list and catalog.

In 2020 and 2022, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA) held designated specialties as part of MSDA’s Saturday sporting group dog show.

Supported Entries:

The designation of supported entry means that a specialty breed club (say, Irish Water Spaniels) has decided to encourage their members to support an all-breed or group show by entering. This encouragement often takes the specific form of sponsored trophies and input on judge(s) who the breed club thinks will draw exhibitors.

There is no AKC requirement for paperwork to accomplish this and it generally results in shows gaining a 10%-20% increase in entries for the particular breed. Supporting entry clubs are recognized in the host club’s premium list and catalog. There are no limits to the number of supported entries per club per year. Eventually, if the supported entry gets large enough, supported entries may turn into specialties.

Sweepstakes:

Sweepstakes are in the “fun” or “learning” event category, and may occur in specialties, and/or all-breed and group dog shows with or without supporting entries. They typically involve Puppies or Veterans, as well as other classes like Gun Dog, Field Retriever, etc.

Sweepstakes classes are judged using the same standard as a regular conformation class. However, the judge is not necessarily an approved AKC judge for that breed. In many cases they are long-time breeders or people who would like to become an approved judge for the breed. The prizes are typically a cash award based on a percentage of the entry fee. Many exhibitors use this as a starter for puppies and an additional class to acclimate youngsters to being in a show. Sweepstake classes are typically (but not always) run before regular classes.

Comparison of Benefits:

When putting on a conformation show the objective is to award championship points. A non-supported or non-specialty regular class at an all-breed or group show may have points, but a supported entry likely will have more entrants, and a specialty generally will have the greatest number of entries and, consequently have the greatest amount of points that can be earned by a dog. (However, there is no guarantee.)

As noted earlier, more entries also typically mean more direct (i.e., entry fee) and indirect (e.g., parking, other activities) revenue for the host club, so there is an economic incentive to increase entries. Specialties, supported entries and sweepstakes help to achieve this.

Holding specialties at the same location and general timeframe as a group or all-breed show can also benefit both the clubs and exhibitors by sharing or limiting expenses.

Coordination:

Running a dog show of any size is a complex undertaking. For example, dog show judges may be selected up to three years in advance, and typically a panel is well developed a year in advance. The key to any show is its judging panel. For example, using someone local who is frequently seen 3-4 times a year in a region is problematic as most people will have seen the judge, and if he or she didn’t like your exhibited dog in January they probably won’t like it in April or July. So, assembling a quality judging panel that will attract entries is generally important and, when dealing with specialties and supported entries, the judge selection is even more critical. Obtaining input for this and the myriad other decisions involved in organizing a dog show, and doing all this with the involvement of not just the host club, but perhaps multiple specialty and supporting entry clubs, and within a limited timeframe, is even more challenging.

Some host clubs now have what is called an Offer Sheet. These documents spell out timelines in addition to roles and responsibilities relating to specialties and supporting entries, with the goal of reducing ambiguity and aligning expectations. The Offer Sheet provides clarity and structure that generally results in a beneficial outcome for all involved, as long as the timelines are adhered to. An example of an Offer Sheet (not from MSDA) is available here as a PDF.

This article was prepared with the assistance of MSDA member William (Bill) Burland. Bill is both a breeder and a handler, and has served as Show Chair for the Kennel Club of Philadelphia (2004-2013) and the Bucks County Kennel Club (2015-2018). He currently is very active with the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA).

2022 Spring Event

Friday March 4 – Sunday March 6
Howard County Fairgrounds
West Friendship, MD

MSDA holds two of the largest sporting group dog shows in the U.S. and, along with those, three days of all-breed obedience and rally trials, breed specialties (probably more Golden Retrievers and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers than you have ever seen in one place!), bird instinct clinics and other activities.

The following clubs supported entries at the shows: Capital City Cocker Club, Inc., Clumber Spaniel Club of the Carolinas, English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc., Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Irish Setter Club of Greater Richmond, Irish Water Spaniel Club of America, Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, Lower Susquehanna Irish Setter Club, Maryland Brittany Club, Mid Atlantic Field Spaniel Club, National Capital English Setter Club, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA), Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club, Susquehanna Valley English Springer Spaniel Club, Sussex Spaniel Club of America, Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, Inc., and Wilderness Pointer Club of Virginia.

Unofficial results are available at:

THANK-YOU participants, judges, stewards and all volunteers!

Once again, the chair of this event was Richard Jackson. Please contact him at ShowChairPerson@mdsportingdog.org and/or MSDA’s President Steve Roth via President@mdsportingdog.org with any comments. All feedback is very much appreciated!

David Sombach Photography took all of the “win” photos for the weekend. Photos are available for viewing and purchase online at his website. You will need to enter an email address to view the gallery. Then click on “Maryland Sporting Dog Wknd 2022” to see all the pictures.

If you attended the event, you also may have noticed Bryan Sirotkin roaming around taking candid photos with his cameras and (very) big lenses. Literally hundreds of his photos are available via https://bsphotography.net/ , or access them directly at: https://bsphotography.zenfolio.com/msda2022 . You will need to enter an email address to view the gallery. Then, click on “Next” and/or “Slideshow” (in the upper right corner of the screen) to move easily through the photos. All photos are available for purchase.

Mark your calendars for Spring Event 2023 – March 3-5, 2023!

2022 Bird Dog Instinct Clinics

MSDA held Bird Instinct Clinics on Friday March 4th, Saturday March 5th, and Sunday March 6th during the MSDA Spring Event at the Howard County Fairgrounds (West Friendship). For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this was a great way to get started.

This is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. It’s not a test, nor a training session, but more like ultimate playtime for sporting dogs! The clinic includes a brief introductory discussion followed by individual work with each dog and handler. Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent a bird and find a bird, triggering their basic hunting instincts. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds.

Some pictures taken at the Instinct Clinic sessions are displayed at the bottom of this page. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the entire gallery.

Bryan Sirotkin of BSPhotography also photographed the dogs in the flushing/ retrieving breeds’ field on Sunday afternoon, March 6th. Literally hundreds of his photos of that session are available via https://bsphotography.net/ or access them directly at https://bsphotography.zenfolio.com/p1433405. You will need to enter an email address to view the gallery. Then, click on “Next” and/or “Slideshow” (in the upper right corner of the screen) to move easily through the photos. All photos are available for purchase.

Feedback is always very welcome. Please send your comments to Steve Roth at HuntingChair@mdsportingdog.org or Pamela DeSmidt via Secretary@mdsportingdog.org .

2022 photos:

2020 MSDA Spring Event

MSDA holds two of the largest sporting group conformation shows in the U.S. and, along with those, three days of all-breed obedience and rally trials, breed specialties, bird instinct clinics, and other activities. In 2020, the dates and major activities for MSDA’s events at the Howard County Fairgrounds (just south of I-70) in West Friendship, MD were February 28th – March 1st.

THANK-YOU participants, judges, stewards, trophy sponsors and all volunteers!

Please contact our Event Chair, Richard Jackson, with any questions or comments or if you would like to be involved in a future Spring Event. And, you can learn more about MSDA and stay informed of our activities by signing up for our e-mail list.

Below are some snapshots of the event. Click any picture to open an enlarged slide show of all of them.

The trainer also took photos of many of the dogs who participated in the Barn Hunt Try-It. See them at Nose Prints and More.

David Sombach Photography was the official photographer. He took all of the “win” photos. Literally hundreds of photos are available for viewing and purchase online at his website.

Major activities this year included:

    • MSDA Sporting Group Conformation Saturday and Sunday.
    • MSDA All-Breed Obedience & Rally Trials. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
    • Breed Specialty Show on Friday – Northern Virginia Brittany Club.
    • Breed Specialty Show and Obedience & Rally Trial – Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club.
    • Designated Specialty – Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA) on Saturday.
    • Bird Instinct Clinics in the morning and afternoon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
    • Sporting Dog Fun Match, by the Chesapeake English Cocker Spaniel Association, Friday evening.
    • Canine Good Citizen Testing Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
    • Barn Hunt “Try-it” on Saturday and Sunday.
    • Flyball demonstration and “race” on Sunday.
    • MSDA Membership Meeting, dinner, and seminar on Saturday evening.

Also on the schedule were sweepstakes, owner-handled, junior handler, and best bred-by-exhibitor competitions. There was puppy and veteran sweepstakes, a dog show tour and new exhibitor briefing, and morning coffee & doughnuts.

Official results are available at the AKC website:

The following clubs supported entries at the shows: Capital City Cocker Club, Capital Region Flat-Coated Retriever Club, English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Irish Setter Club of Greater Richmond, Irish Water Spaniel Club of America, Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, Lower Susquehanna Irish Setter Club, Maryland Brittany Club, Mid Atlantic Field Spaniel Club, National Capital English Setter Club, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club – USA, Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club, Susquehanna Valley English Springer Spaniel Club, Sussex Spaniel Club of America, Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, and Wilderness Pointer Club.

A big THANK-YOU to all who answered the call to work as volunteers and to those who sponsored trophies for our 2020 Spring Event!

Vendors:

  • Horse Brooch,
  • WhiteDogBone,
  • The Sharp Shop,
  • Salty Dog & Sweet P’s Swag,
  • MFD/Digi-Art Photography and Portraits,
  • Sunflower Trading Company,
  • ComfyPooch, and
  • K-9 Fun-Fit, LLC.

More Information: Once again, the chair of this event was Richard Jackson. Please contact him directly with any questions or comments.

We also invite you to learn more about us, and sign up for our e-mail list to be updated (mostly via a monthly newsletter) on all club activities:

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    Interests: ConformationField WorkObedience/Rally

    By signing up for our updates, you agree to receive occasional e-mails from us regarding events, meetings, and other MSDA news. Your dog breeds and interests determine which e-mails are sent to you. We do not share our "opt-in" e-mail list with other organizations.

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    2020 Sporting Dog Instinct Clinics

    MSDA held six Bird Instinct Clinics during the 2020 MSDA Spring Event at the Howard County Fairgrounds. For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this was a great way to get started.

    Instinct Clinic is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. The session includes a brief introductory discussion followed by individual work with each dog and handler. Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent a bird and find a bird, triggering their basic hunting instincts. There is no gunfire and flushed birds fly away. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. There is lots of fun, and great information, too!

    Instinct Clinic also is a wonderful stepping stone for you and your dog to get involved with training for your parent club’s WD or WC program or the AKC Hunt Test programs, or to simply see how much fun you can have when your dog gets turned on to birds!!

    There were a total of six identical clinics, at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm on Friday 2/28, Saturday 2/29, and Sunday 3/1 and in 2020 they were fully booked. All potential bird dogs are welcome at our Instinct Clinics. We had one or more of the following breeds participating: Barbet, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, French Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Saint Usuge Spaniel, Spinone Italiano, Standard Poodle, Vizsla, Weimaraner and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.

    For more information, photos, and videos, see our Instinct Clinic page for 2019. Questions? Please contact Steve Roth.

    Thank-you MSDA 2020 Trophy Sponsors!

    MSDA holds two of the largest sporting group conformation shows in the U.S. and, along with those, three days of all-breed obedience and rally trials. In 2020, the dates for MSDA’s events at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, MD are:

    Friday February 28th (All-Breed Obedience & Rally)
    Saturday February 29th (Sporting Group Conformation, All-Breed Obedience & Rally)
    Sunday March 1st (Sporting Group Conformation, All-Breed Obedience & Rally)

    These events attract more than 600 dogs, along with owners, handlers, breeders, and the dog-loving public. Many “trophies” in the form of plaques, embroidered towels, dog toys, and other gifts are awarded to the winners each day.

    A hearty THANK-YOU to all who are sponsoring trophies in 2020 for the following:

    • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Jay Demarest
    • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Saturday Winners Bitch, Sponsored by: Jay Demarest
    • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Jay Demarest
    • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Sunday Winners Bitch, Sponsored by: Jay Demarest
    • Clumber Spaniel – Saturday Best of Breed, In memory of Moby, CH Shogun’s Seadog CGC, RN, BN
    • Clumber Spaniel – Saturday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Hank and Stanley
    • Clumber Spaniel – Saturday Winners Dog, Sponsored by: Gus
    • Clumber Spaniel – Sunday Best of Breed, In memory of Moby, CH Shogun’s Seadog CGC, BN, RN
    • Clumber Spaniel – Sunday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Hank and Stanley
    • Clumber Spaniel – Sunday Winners Dog, Sponsored by: Gus
    • English Cocker Spaniel – Saturday Winners Bitch, Sponsored by: Anonymous
    • Field Spaniel – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Dianne and Jeffrey Harab
    • Flat-Coated Retriever – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Betsy & Steve Surprenant
    • Flat-Coated Retriever – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Betsy & Steve Surprenant
    • Golden Retriever – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Celebrate Golden Retrievers, Mary Ann and Caroline Bruton
    • Irish Water Spaniel – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Author Jeanne Adams
    • Irish Water Spaniel – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Author Jeanne Adams
    • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Dr. Sherry and Mr. Gary Seibel
    • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Edlyn Retrievers – Sherry and Gary Seibel
    • Sussex Spaniel – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Saturday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Saturday Best of Winners, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Saturday Winners Bitch, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Saturday Winners Dog, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Sunday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Sunday Best of Winners, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Sussex Spaniel – Sunday Winners Bitch, Sponsored by: Sussex Spaniel Club of America
    • Vizsla – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Raimee Eck & Carlos Williams
    • Vizsla – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Raimee Eck & Carlos Williams
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Saturday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Karen Fehr
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Saturday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Martha Perkins in loving memory of Gentle Welshie Gus (2003-2019)
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Saturday Winners Dog, In memory of CH SHR UH Greenwood’s Angus JH SH MH (14) WD WDX CGC, 2002-19
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Sunday Best of Breed, Sponsored by: Karen Fehr
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Sunday Best of Opposite Sex, Sponsored by: Martha Perkins in loving memory of Gentle Welshie Gus (2003-2019)
    • Welsh Springer Spaniel – Sunday Winners Dog, In memory of CH SHR UH Greenwood’s Angus JH SH MH (14) WD WDX CGC, 2002-19
    • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon – Saturday Best of Winners, Sponsored by: Stephanie Martin/Stonehenge Griffons
    • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon – Sunday Best of Winners, Sponsored by: Stephanie Martin/ Stonehenge Griffons
    • Obedience – Saturday 1st place, Open A, In memory of Crush
    • Obedience – Sunday 1st place, Open A, In memory of Crush
    • Rally – Saturday 1st place, Novice A, In memory of then-14-year old Maximillian Von Hoytt II
    • General Trophy Fund, Sponsored by: Lyn Cortright
    • General Trophy Fund, Sponsored by: Anonymous

    All trophies are selected by the Show Committee and are not the same every year. Here are some of the 2019 trophies:

    MSDA Stewarding Seminar August 2019

    Saturday, August 17th
    1:30 – 4:30 pm

    North Laurel Community Center
    Laurel, MD 20723

    This Saturday afternoon seminar covered stewarding for AKC conformation and obedience events.

    The day focused on events and procedures for Maryland Sporting Dog Association’s “Spring Event”, which is held the first weekend of March each year at Howard County Fairgrounds. The spring weekend includes two days of conformation judging for AKC Sporting Group breeds. These events are two of the five biggest sporting dog conformation shows in the U.S. and attract well over 500 entrants each day. We also have three days of obedience and rally trials that are open to all breeds, and these draw another 100-150+ entries each day. Managing all of this requires an enormous volunteer effort, and stewards play a key role.

    During the seminar, we reviewed what you need to know to confidently fulfill a stewarding role at MSDA’s Spring Event, especially stewarding procedures from how to greet your judge in the morning to how to keep all your notations organized in your steward’s book. There were presentations, Q&A, discussions, plenty of real-life examples, amusing stories, and demonstrations. Seminar materials were provided to each attendee.

    Presenters:

    • Gregg Kantak: Gregg, who chaired this seminar, is an AKC conformation judge, breeder, owner and handler. For more than ten years, Gregg has served as Chief Steward for the MSDA conformation events.
    • Erv Lhotka: Erv is an AKC obedience judge, breeder, owner and handler of Labrador Retrievers with both conformation and obedience titles. Erv has served at MSDA’s Spring Event in both conformation and obedience stewarding roles.
    • Richard Todd Jackson: Richard is an AKC conformation judge, breeder, owner and handler. Since 2017, Richard has been the Show Chair for MSDA’s Spring Event.

    A Dog Show Event’s Ambassador – The Steward

    by Gregg G. Kantak

    Perhaps like many of you, my first experience with showing dogs was in field tests.  My Silver Standard Poodles, all corded, were waiting for the judge to begin the water fowl retrieval tests and I would happily let them off-leash to dive into the lake or marsh and bring back the “quarry.”  Assisting the judge was a “runner” who took the Judge’s scorecard back to a desk for tabulation.  Little did I know, that “runner” was the Judge’s steward.  Later, when my Basset Hounds experienced hunt trials, and the Judge would check for packing ability, their “voice” and reaction to the gun-firing, I would either be whacking the bushes or yelling “Talley Ho!” when I saw the quarry while, again, this “runner” (Steward) would return to the desk with the Judge’s scorecard.  Then came conformation….

    As you may know, in an AKC conformation show ring, the Judge actually is assessing “breeding stock.”  While all that is going on, however, the Judge requires an able assistant:  the Steward.  Since I am everything “dog-related” and enjoyed the energy of a dog show, I found stewarding a ring allowed me to participate when I was not actively showing one of my breeds.  Over the past fifteen years, I have actively stewarded AKC shows and served as Chief Steward (the ring leader) for several AKC shows, most notably for the past ten years as MSDA’s Chief Steward.

    From my many years stewarding dog shows, I have discovered that the Steward is a show’s finest “Ambassador.”  Not only must the Steward ensure the Judge and ring are running smoothly, they, unlike any other show staff, have the greatest impact on the Exhibitor’s experience.  A Steward is the first person an exhibitor meets prior to showing.  The Steward marks them as present and provides them with their armband, calls them into the ring for their breed class and ensures the Judge maintains the schedule and accurately records the wins.

    As an exhibitor, I can tell you that the most positive ring experiences have been when a Steward simply greets me, provides me with my armband, wishes me success, and eventually ushers me into the ring.  The Steward can make or break a show and their ambassadorial skills set the tone for any exhibitor’s experience during the show.

    From a Judge’s perspective, I rely on my Steward to be just that… my ambassador.  The Steward maintains the ring’s order, ensures a table or ramp is accessible, pulls the ribbons for the classes, calls in the armband numbers, announces the winning armband numbers in each class, congratulates the winners, etc.  They serve as my liaison with exhibitors, handlers and the superintendent.  So, you see, stewards are integral to the success of the show.  Whether your interest is in conformation, obedience, rally, utility, field or hunt tests, ultimately you have relied upon a steward to ensure you knew what was to come.

    I believe I join you in our love of dogs and our enjoyment at seeing them perform in any capacity.  Our sport becomes our social outlet, bonding experience and/or avocation.  Being a part of it, whether exhibiting, judging or stewarding is truly rewarding.  Stewarding, particularly, allows those who may have ended their “showing” years remain an active part of the show.  If given a choice, most of us would be spending more time with our dogs or being around dogs, and there is no better way to do that then to participate in a show, especially as a steward.

    If you have interest in pursuing stewarding or if you are considering a future judging (there is a stewarding fulfillment requirement to obtain licensure), please contact me at greggkantak@yahoo.com.  I would love to have you be an integral part of MSDA’s 2020 Show!

    Acting as a steward at a dog show or obedience and rally trials is a great way to contribute to the sport, make friends, and get the inside scoop about these dog activities. However, we find many people are reluctant to participate because they think that they don’t know enough about what is involved. MSDA is organizing an introductory seminar for conformation and obedience/rally stewarding sometime during the weekend of August 17-18 (exact date, time, and location are to be determined). Check back to this website, contact Gregg, and/or sign up for our email list to find out more.

    2019 Sporting Dog Instinct Clinics

    MSDA held Sporting Dog Instinct Clinics on  Friday March 1st and Saturday March 2nd during the 2019 MSDA Spring Event at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Rd, West Friendship, MD 21794). For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this is a great way to get started.

    This is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. The clinic includes a brief introductory discussion followed by individual work with each dog and handler. Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent a bird and find a bird, triggering their basic hunting instincts. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. There is lots of fun, and great information, too!

    It was chilly for our first day of clinics on Friday, but we were able to protect a section of the field from snow the night before, and the dogs didn’t seem to mind the weather at all. Saturday was warmer. Altogether, we ran 52 dogs in five clinic sessions. Here are some pictures, and one video (on YouTube), from the 2019 sessions.

    Instinct Clinic also is a wonderful stepping stone for you and your dog to get involved with training for your parent club’s WD or WC program or the AKC Hunt Test programs, or to simply see how much fun you can have when your dog gets turned on to birds!!

    Participating breeds this year included the following: Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Spinone Italiano, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.

    Live birds are used. There is no gunfire. (Flushed birds fly away.)

    For more information, photos, and videos, see our Instinct Clinic pages for 2018 and 2017. Questions? Please contact Steve Roth.

    2019 MSDA Spring Event

    MSDA’s Spring Sporting Group Dog Shows and All-Breed Obedience & Rally Trials were Friday March 1 – Sunday March 3, 2019.

    Once again, the weekend included three days of AKC-licensed events at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, MD. In addition to conformation, obedience, rally, and specialty events sponsored by other dog clubs, we held a third year of just-for-fun Instinct Clinics to introduce sporting dogs to field work.

    There are lots of pictures available!

    • The Baltimore Sun sent a reporter/photographer, Phil Grout, to the show on Saturday and he really captured the spirit of the weekend with a few great photos of conformation and instinct clinic.
    • Melissa Hampton, a photographer and dog person, is sharing over 250 candid photos of the conformation events.
    • Some of our own snapshots of conformation, obedience, and rally are below. (Instinct Clinic photos are on a separate page.)
    • The show’s official photographer David Sombach, takes all official conformation win photos.

    Some results are shown below the photos on this page, and  official AKC results are now available. Entry details and placements, by dog, are at Jim Rau Dog Shows.

    We are eager to continue to improve our Spring Event. If you have any comments or suggestions, or just have follow-up questions, please contact our event coordinator Richard Jackson.

    Here are some pictures!

    Results for Friday, March 1 2019

    Rally, Highest Triple Score in ADVB/EXCB/MASTER:
    MACH PACH RACH2 Mrl N Dfl Whatever It Takes CD RM4 RAE11 MXB MJS MXP3 MXPB MJP4 MJPB PAX OF T2B
    Cocker Spaniel
    M Lindquist

    Rally, Highest Combined Score in ADVB/EXCB:
    MACH Gayhearts Let The Good Thymes Rol Bt CD PCDX BN GN RM2 RAE4 HT MXS MJS T2B
    Pembroke Welsh Corgi
    A Pribyl

    Results for Saturday, March 2 2019

    Unofficial conformation results with photos

    Best in Sporting Group :
    Sporting Judge Ms. Maureen Day
    #1-
    Dog Reg: GCH Foxwoods Ivywood All Hallows Eve [Bitch]
    Breed: Spaniel (English Cocker)
    Handler: Kristin Lyons
    Owner: K Lyons & D Mauterer
    Breeder: K Lyons & D Mauterer
    #2-
    Dog Reg: GCHB Sevenoaks Lady Penelope [Bitch]
    Breed: Setter (English)
    Handler: Katie Bernardin
    Owner: S Nordstrom
    Breeder: Hilary Oakes, William Potts & Sabrina Oakes
    #3-
    Dog Reg: GCHS Nani Breica N Crosswinds Aloha [Dog]
    Breed: Weimaraner
    Handler: Derek Beatty
    Owner: D Beatty, S Burns, C Grisell, J Mendez Cervera & A Stewart
    Breeder: Jessica & Brenda Doub
    #4-
    Dog Reg: GCHG Evergreen Set Fire To The Rain [Bitch]
    Breed: Setter (Irish)
    Handler: Mary Merlo
    Owner: M Merlo
    Breeder: Mary Merlo

    Best Junior Handler: Abigail Van Meter, Cocker Spaniel Parti
    Reserve Best Junior Handler: Erin Bernecker, Pointer

    Obedience, Highest Scoring Dog in Regular Classes:
    Open B, OTCH Rhumbline’s Once In A Blue Moon UDX9 OGM BN GN VER RE JH ACT1 SCN SIN SBN CGC TKI
    Labrador Retriever
    L Brennan

    Obedience, Highest Combined Score in OB and UA/UB:
    OTCH Rhumbline’s Once In A Blue Moon UDX9 OGM BN GN VER RE JH ACT1 SCN SIN SBN CGC TKI
    Labrador Retriever
    L Brennan

    Rally, Highest Triple Score in ADVB/EXCB/MASTER:
    MACH PACH RACH2 Mrl N Dfl Whatever It Takes CD RM5 RAE11 MXB MJS MXP3 MXPB MJP4 MJPB PAX OF T2B
    Cocker Spaniel
    M Lindquist

    Rally, Highest Combined Score in ADVB/EXCB:
    MACH PACH RACH2 Mrl N Dfl Whatever It Takes CD RM5 RAE11 MXB MJS MXP3 MXPB MJP4 MJPB PAX OF T2B
    Cocker Spaniel
    M Lindquist

    Results for Sunday, March 3 2019

    Unofficial conformation results with photos

    Best in Sporting Group:
    Sporting Judge Mrs. Cindy Lane
    #1-
    Dog Reg: GCHG Evergreen Set Fire To The Rain [Bitch]
    Breed: Setter (Irish)
    Handler: Mary Merlo
    Owner: M Merlo
    Breeder: Mary Merlo
    #2-
    Dog Reg: GCHS Nani Breica N Crosswinds Aloha [Dog]
    Breed: Weimaraner
    Handler: Derek Beatty
    Owner: D Beatty, S Burns, C Grisell, J Mendez Cervera & A Stewart
    Breeder: Jessica & Brenda Doub
    #3-
    Dog Reg: GCHB Foleys Frat Party [Dog]
    Breed: Spaniel (Cocker) ASCOB
    Handler: Lisa Arnett
    Owner: N Foley
    Breeder: Genea Jones & Nancy Foley
    #4-
    Dog Reg: GCHB Sevenoaks Lady Penelope [Bitch]
    Breed: Setter (English)
    Handler: Katie Bernardin
    Owner: S Nordstrom
    Breeder: Hilary Oakes, William Potts & Sabrina Oakes

    Best Junior Handler: Abigail Van Meter, Cocker Spaniel Parti
    Reserve Best Junior Handler: Ashley Dornak, Pointer

    Obedience, Highest Scoring Dog in Regular Classes:
    Open B, Quarry Run’s Worth The Wait UD OM1 RE SH CGC TKN
    Labrador Retriever
    D ROMANCZAK

    Obedience, Highest Combined Score in OB and UA/UB:
    Victory’s Ketch’N A Storm UD BN JH
    Flat-Coated Retriever
    D Orth/J Gladson

    Rally, Highest Triple Score in ADVB/EXCB/MASTER
    Old Lyme’s Canadian Yukon Timberwolf UD BN GN GO RM2 RAE2 JH DS CGCA CGCU TKA
    Golden Retriever
    N Herzner/L Crawford

    Rally, Highest Combined Score in ADVB/EXCB
    RACH Canobie Lake Miss Tilly CDX BN RM3 RAE5 FDC ACT1 CGC
    Australian Shepherd
    L Zagnit

    The public was welcomed at this event and we were pleased to meet so many who came to check out the breeds, make contacts in the sport, and learn more about our club.

    Many other dog clubs also participated in the weekend through specialties and supported entries. The Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club held an all-day specialty conformation event with obedience and rally trials that attracted over 100 Golden Retrievers on Friday. The Irish Water Spaniel Club of America had a Specialty on Saturday. If your club would like to have a Specialty at one of our future shows, please contact our event coordinator Richard Jackson.

    Clubs with supported entries were: American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, Capital City Cocker Club, Capital Region Flat-Coated Retriever Club, English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Flat Coated Retriever Society of America, Irish Setter Club of Greater Richmond, Irish Water Spaniel Club of America, Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, Lower Susquehanna Irish Setter Club, Maryland Brittany Club, Mid-Atlantic Field Spaniel Club of America, National Capital English Setter Club, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club – USA, Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club, Susquehanna Valley English Springer Spaniel Club, Sussex Spaniel Club of America, and Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America.

    On-site veterinary care was available from Seibel Veterinary Services. Their mobile clinic van was parked near the Main Hall throughout the weekend.

    Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services provided on-site emergency medical coverage for humans.

    This year’s vendors included the following, located in the Main Hall: Firefox Leather, Horse Brooch, Kathy Edwards Paper Mache Dog Sculptures, Madison & Maude, The Sharp Edge, and White Dog Bone.

    Please contact our Event Coordinator, Richard Jackson, with any questions or comments or if you would like to be involved in future Spring Events. And, you can learn more about MSDA and stay informed of our activities by signing up for our e-mail list.