The Mid-Continent Kennel Club of Tulsa will welcome thousands of dogs and their owners to the SageNet Center at Expo Square for its annual all-breed dog show this weekend, April 30 and May 1.
The show, presented in partnership with Southern Agriculture and Diamond Pet Foods, will feature nearly 2,700 dog entries and several types of competitions, including obedience trials and dock diving.
“It’s like-minded people getting together and doing the things they love to do with their dogs,” said Stephanie Garrett, president of the MCKC.
This dog show is different from the shows the MCKC has hosted in the past for several reasons, Garrett said. This dog show will have a celebratory feel because the MCKC is celebrating its 101st anniversary.
Founded in 1921 by local dog enthusiasts, the MCKC has continued to grow and thrive ever since, reaching a membership of 80 current members who are veterinarians, dog trainers, breeders, aficionados and more. The group isn’t just about appreciating dogs, however; It’s about caring for and being a steward of all dog breeds.
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“Our mission is to promote responsible dog ownership and purposefully bred dogs,” Garrett said.
The MCKC intended on celebrating its 100th anniversary last year, but due to COVID-19, the group was unable to do so. That’s why this year’s celebration is even more meaningful, Garrett said.
This year’s competition is also different because it’s highlighting the work of the MCKC, Southern Agriculture and Diamond Pet Foods does with Meals on Wheels of Tulsa Metro’s PAWS Program. The program is designed to provide monthly portions of pet food to Meals on Wheels’ homebound clients.
Over the past three years, Diamond Pet Foods has shipped 5 tons of pet food per month to Southern Agriculture, where it is picked up by MCKC and Meals on Wheels volunteers to be delivered to hundreds of clients and their furry companions in need. The MCKC even received the Governor’s Commendation in 2021 for volunteer work during the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, so many of our events had to be canceled, so we were sitting around trying to decide how we could still be involved in our community,” Garrett said. “When we first got involved with Meals on Wheels, they had 80 clients — now, they have over 500. Our relationship with them has continued to grow, and we’re going to keep it in place.”
Two events at the dog show — the Show N’ Go and Sanctioned B Match — will directly benefit the PAWS Program. Booths from Meals on Wheels, Southern Agriculture and Diamond Pet Foods will also be open for spectators to learn more and donate.
“Our goal is not just to support (Meals on Wheels) with our volunteering, but to raise community awareness of what they do within the greater Tulsa are,” Garrett said.
The competition will draw participants from all over the country, said Anna Vaughn, vice president of the MCKC. The dogs — broken up into groups such as herding, hound, toy, terrier and more — will compete in a variety of competitions, such as all-breed shows, national owner-handled series and best bred-by exhibitor competitions.
For obedience trials, where a dog might be asked to walk on and off of a leash, and rally trials, where a dog will be commanded to “sit” and “stay,” the relationship between dog and handler is paramount, Vaughn said.
“It’s really a team sport between the handler and the dog,” Vaughn said. “It’s essential that the dog demonstrates a willingness and enjoyment of working with the handler — that’s what the judges are looking for.”
It’s almost impossible to predict which dogs will walk away with the Best in Show title, Garrett said.
“You’ll have the No. 1 dog in their breed or group — or even the No. 1 dog in the country, period — come to compete, and they won’t win,” Garrett said. “It just depends on that day and how well the dog performs.”
A different breed cinches the title almost every year, Vaughn said. In 2017, it was a Bichon Frise; in 2018, a boxer, and in 2019, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
The dog show will feature light-hearted contests, as well. Participants (and spectators) can enter their dogs into the dock-diving competition, where dogs will climb onto a platform above a pool, run and jump into the water to grab a toy. Then, the distance the dog jumps will be measured.
“It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the American Kennel Club,” Garrett said. “It’s just hysterically fun to watch these dogs jump.”
Competitions aren’t the only thing the dog show will offer. Veterinarians will be on site to perform a variety of tests on any dogs whose owners are interested.
“One of our goals as purposefully bred-dog owners is to always improve the breed and make sure it remains healthy,” Garrett said. “We’ll be doing genetic testing so you can know there are no problems with a dog’s eyes, heart, hips or anything else before you decide to breed your dog. You’ll get a certificate from our doctors if your dog passes.”
Having knowledge about your dog’s internal health is crucial, Vaughn said.
“People think we’re crazy for how much we invest in our dogs, but we want to make sure they remain healthy and happy and that any future litters are improving the breed,” Vaugh said.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with dog shows or are not yet a dog owner, you should consider visiting the dog show, Garrett said.
“Dog shows are the perfect opportunity to learn more about different breeds, especially if you’re thinking about getting a dog,” Garrett said. “People can come out and actually see the dogs, talk to the people who own them and learn which kind is the best for their specific needs and lifestyles.”
Several vendors, including Far-More Shade, Three Dog Bakery and more will be at the dog show selling a variety of pet-related goods. The concessions will be open, as well.
For more information, visit tulsakennelclub.com.