Let’s Work Together: Collaborating with AKC Dog Clubs

This is a summary of the webinar  presented by AKC Club Development which talked about clubs collaborating, not only with other AKC clubs, but other types of dog and community events and attractions.

Guy Fisher, Manager of AKC Club Development was the lead presenter for this webinar.  Guy started off with some administrative best practices, and then gave examples of the types of events and collaborations that have been used successfully by clubs around the country.  He also shared some innovative ideas for funding, promoting and staffing these events.

Best Practices: Get It In Writing!

AKC memo

Guy started by sharing links to a number of documents (pdf) that clubs will find helpful in navigating their relationships with one another in a multi-club collaboration. AKC has rules about clubs’ priority rights to show locations and event dates, so there needs to be a written understanding of which clubs are doing what, when, and for how long so there’s no confusion.   A group of clubs collaborating is referred to as a cluster, and there are requirements for common event planning and paperwork submission for these events. Each club also has individual responsibility for its own event(s).

Moving Back Home with Multi-Events

Many clubs have moved out of their original territories when venues have changed hands, closed, or significantly increased rental fees. I was affected by this when my club, the Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County was forced to do this when our venue decided to violate our contract and give our reserved dates to a different sporting event.  Performance events occupy less space than an all breed conformation dog show. This means holding a performance only event may allow a club to move back into a smaller venue in their own territory, making it easier to engage with the population they were chartered to serve.

Michigan has at least four dog show weekends that include multiple AKC and non-AKC events, they are all held in large venues and include large all breed dog shows.  At one of these large show clusters, I noticed a flyer for a performance only event hosted by the St Clair Kennel Club.  This “Spring Fling” event which will launch in May, 2019 includes four rally and four obedience trials and a collaboration with the Barn Hunt licensed Scamper Detectives club, which is holding two barn hunt trials.  The event also includes several sanctioned matches and a number of dog sport demonstrations open to all.   They are using the same site as the kennel club uses for its all breed shows, which is in its assigned territory.

Guy emphasized that the AKC is supportive of multi-events. As long as clubs follow AKC guidelines regarding special attractions (pdf), they will do as much as they can to help clubs plan and execute a successful event.

Your Community Can Help

Guy fielded a number of  questions after the presentation.  He shared a number of suggestions, including several ways that clubs can reach out to their local community for help.  This absolutely makes the most sense when you can also hold your event in the area that bears your club’s name. Clubs can also reach out to the communities you’ve adopted because they have hosted your existing events. Some suggestions from the Q&A are listed below:

  • Encourage members to participate in the AKC Mentor program to encourage new people in the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce, they can help both with publicity and connecting your club with community organizations that can assist you
  • Offer family-friendly admission packages and promote them to local parents’ organizations as a family-friendly outings, have someone assigned to greet and guide families who attend the show
  • Personally contact local businesses to suggest ways they can support and promote your show.  Sell space on banners that can be hung around the show site. Approach other clubs about cross-promoting events.
  • The AKC Public Education department has a Girl Scout Patch program that can be marketed to local Girl Scouts, allows members to get badges for participating in a program at the show which encourages safe behavior around dogs as well as learning about dog shows.
  • If you need more manual labor than your club can provide, consider reaching out to your community to see if they can offer your event as an option for people required to perform community service.

Learning by Example

I’ve been looking for examples of multi-events and am reaching out to people  involved with them.  I you belong to a club are interested in hosting one such an event, AKC Club Development is a great  place to start.

The number of performance event options is growing, and hosting these events offers conformation clubs an opportunity to grow an event that can help fund other activities. Since these events are open to all dogs, regardless of background, they offer a common ground for dog lovers of many backgrounds to come together.  Performance can be a gateway to conformation and a way to get people exposed to purebred dog fanciers and conformation events like 4-6 month puppy and sanctioned matches that may be more accessible to newbies than a licensed all breed show.

If you are involved with an AKC dog club that is involved with a multi-sport event, I’d love to talk to you about it!

Cleo  Parker

Cleo has been showing Bull Terriers in AKC events and working with dogs and dog clubs since she was a teenager. Her professional career has been spent working in marketing insights and analytics in a variety of industries, including automotive, advertising, and pet specialty retail.

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