My all-breed dog club recently held its all breed shows in Birch Run, Michigan. I am our Education Chair, and my duties include staffing an education table at our shows. The AKC Public Education department is my usual conduit to AKC materials for the table, and they will send clubs a box of materials appropriate for their show size. These include trifold brochures, 1- pagers, and booklets about AKC events and programs. I also bring a laptop computer that I leave “tuned” to AKC.tv and photos from past shows, AKC Family Dog magazines, and some materials from other sources. We also offer Dog Show Tours on request.
Something Was Missing
Our club offered Scent Work trials for the first time this year. I was expecting to find brochures about AKC Scent Work in my box, but I did not. I contacted Public Education and was surprised to find they did not have one, and they referred me to the Scent Work section of the AKC website, which has a lot of information geared toward potential competitors rather than the dog-interested public. I then reached out to the Friends Who Like AKC Scent Work Facebook Group to see if other clubs had created something. I discovered that the AKC actually did have a trifold brochure about Scent Work , so I ordered some for our show.
AKC Has Even More Cool Stuff
A week later, I got an email from Dennis Sprung, CEO of AKC announcing several programs, including AKC Fit Dog that encourages dog/owner fitness, AKC BARK program around children reading to kids, and an invitational agility event held in conjunction with a horse event. The first two events are clearly things that would have been great to share at our show, yet this was the first I’d heard of them. I’ll accept some blame for not being on top of everything AKC does, but think they could have been more pro-active in communicating these programs to clubs.
Digging for Gold at AKC
I decided to create my own list of AKC resources, searching their site and spanning departments to find out all the cool stuff they have available. I will admit that the education table at a dog show may not be the most effective way to reach the general public, but it is one way to do it. Dog show education tables are a way to reach some fanciers, and I am sure that a lot of them (like me!) are not aware of many of the public facing initiatives AKC has. This blog post will be a first pass at identifying the places to find information, I will update and post more as I find them.
- The Education Department provides brochures and flyers for shows, but also much more. There are resources and programs targeted at the public, and multiple educational resources for dog clubs, dog breeders, and dog judges.
- AKC.TV is 24/7 content from the AKC and includes talk shows, breed profiles, and live dog event coverage. I keep my laptop tuned to this “channel” unless someone asks for help finding something else.
- The Family Dog Program is an umbrella for a number of initiatives that certify dogs as being good community members and adapted to a number of different situations. Not just for CGCs anymore, this includes the very popular Trick Dog evaluations and the new Fit Dog designation.
- The Club Relations Department doesn’t have many public-facing materials, but they do have helpful information about forming and managing clubs as well as tactics for attracting new members.
- Club Development is even more of a club insider department, sharing suggestions to help clubs evolve and thrive in our changing society.
- The Sports and Events webpage leads to a dizzying array of different AKC sanctioned sports. These sports have widely varying level of barriers to entry and some are restricted to certain breeds. I’m going to pick out a few of the easier ones and contact their departments to see if they have sport specific brochures for our next event.
- As vast as AKC and its website are, they don’t sanction every activity people can do with their dogs. The Title Recognition Program exists so that people who title their dogs in some non-AKC sports or events can have those titles added to their dogs official AKC record for a fee.
As I mentioned, I’m going to be digging through the AKC website to find more ideas for good public-facing information during the coming year. I now know I may have to reach out to individual departments, like Scent Work to get specialized information, but I know it’s out there. I also know that there are other organizations like Canada’s For the Love of Purebred Dogs that have great information to share with the public. I don’t think I’ll get quite so deep in the weeds to include brochures on Shed Hunting Dogs, but you never know . . .