Detroit Kennel Club story by Cleo Parker

The Detroit Kennel Club benched show

Detroit Kennel Club Best of Breed/Variety plate

Up through 2013, the Detroit Kennel Club dog show was held in downtown Detroit at the Cobo Hall convention center. It was one of the last benched shows in the US. This article is an homage to the DKC show as it used to be, in all its glory from the days when nearly 3000 dogs competed and the aisles were teeming with spectators.

As entries declined at this and all AKC conformation shows, the downtown site became too expensive to be viable. After taking a year off in 2014, the show moved to a suburban location with less formal benching, and then dropped benching altogether. Let this article take you back to a time when the dog show world was a different place than it is today.

Now, the Detroit Kennel Club Story

I love our local(Detroit KC) benched show even though it’s a royal pain in many ways… The showing part is similar to the unbenched shows, here’s what else happens (at least from my perspective):

  1. The day before you pack all your belongings into large bags that you can either carry or fit in a dog crate. You will bring a cooler with a day’s supply of drinks & food, reading material, money for all the goody booths that only come into the area once a year, your kennel photo book, your dog business cards, the handouts with basic breed information, the change of clothes, a sheet to cover your dog if he/she is a barker, plus all the regular stuff you bring to a dog show. Make sure those entry confirmations are packed, you won’t get in or out without them. Confirm travel arrangements with your friends – you’d be foolish to try & unload alone, because they will NOT let you park in the unloading zone.
  2. You get there at 6 AM regardless of when you show because otherwise the unloading attendant is really cranky and it’ll take at least two hours to get up the ramp to unload and then go find a parking spot. (and my breed only requires about 15 minutes worth of show grooming) If it’s not snowing & you get there at 6 AM, you can get a parking spot close enough to just pull all your stuff in on a dolly. After 9 AM, it’s REALLY slow.
  3. You get your hand stamped at the gate & find your benching. You put your dog’s crate on the bench, stick all your belongs on top/around/undemeath the assigned space. Find a spot for your grooming table NOW before everyone else gets there. Grab some of the hall’s chairs for visitors. Locate the bathrooms, locate your ring. At Detroit they now use the benching style where the handlers have one section and the breed exhibitors have another which makes things easier for everyone, because the handlers aren’t hogging all the grooming space and their dogs aren’t sitting unattended on the bench.
  4. You settle in & get comfy. Have some coffee & those muffins you packed. This will be your only rest period of the day. Take your dog to exercise, groom him. Change clothes & go to the bathroom early – the bathrooms will be PACKED later.
  5. If you’re lucky, you’ll show early (before I I AM) and get back to the bench before the crowds arrive. If you get a late show time, allow 30 minutes to get to the ring. The people will be everywhere & they will all want to stop you & ask questions. (I saw someone with a Mastiff stuck for an hour!) There will be a zillion people, especially if the weather’s nice. You will meet nice people interested & appropriate for your breed. You will see your old friends who haven’t owned the breed in 10 years and their new spouses who can’t believe they ever did. You will meet people you don’t remember who remember when you showed in Jr. Showmanship. You might meet people you’ve corresponded with via the Internet. You will meet idiots who should not own a dog who either want to buy one from you or breed to your stud dog. You will meet people who think your dog is funny looking & ask really dumb questions about them.
  6. Remember to weigh your dog before coming to the show, as you will be asked this question frequently.
  7. Ask your fellow exhibitors to keep an eye on your dog while you shop &/or see the special attractions. If you shop early, you can get the good stuff before they do.
  8. If you win the breed, get in line for the bathroom an hour before you are supposed to show in group. Touch up your dogs’ grooming & head for the ring. If you are in the first group, the ring will be running late and you will have to wait before entering the ring. Concentrate on keeping your winner fresh while you try to remain polite to the crowd of spectators that is asking you the same questions you’ve been answering for the past 5 hours on the bench.
  9. About an hour before they let you out, pack up as much as possible. 1/2 hour before the doors open, get in line. If you got there early & got that good parking spot, pull your stuff out and you’ll be home soon.
  10. If you didn’t get that great parking spot or have too much to haul, it will take at least an hour to get your car into the unloading zone (unless you sent someone out long ago to get the car). The unloading guy will be REALLY cranky, and it will take a while to get the stuff loaded & your vehicle out. Don’t hit the people pushing their stuff down the ramp!
  11. When you get home, unload the bare essentials, take a hot shower & collapse!

    NOTE: The situation has improved over the years, grooming space is now right in front of the bench and there are two days of shows, so you can do the hauling IN one day and the hauling OUT the next, although you will be even more tired by the end of Day Two!

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Updated April 5, 2019