Want to Make Sure Your Dog isn’t From a Puppy Mill?

Geoff and Sequel at the Cow Palace Show in 2011Saturday and Sunday the Golden Gate Kennel Club holds its annual dog show at the San Francisco Cow Palace.  Come on down to find a responsible breeder for a healthy dog, or simply gawk at the variety of canines… there will be over 1,000 to stare at!

This show is special.  At most dog shows the exhibitors show up just before their dog is judged.  They do last-minute fluffing, go into the ring, get their ribbons, and go home.

At the Cow Palace the dogs have to be on a bench by 10 am and they cannot go home until 4:30.  The only time the dog (and owner) aren’t on the bench is when they are in the ring to be judged.

The time on the bench is the perfect moment for you to talk to the owners and learn more about the breed.  Owners are always happy to chat about their show girl or boy, and they know the special characteristics of their breed.

Some… but not all, of the exhibitors are also breeders.  So, if you’re considering a pure-bred dog, you can meet the person responsible for a litter.  You can find about the parent’s health and temperament.  Here are some hints at worked for us when we were looking for a breeder of long hair miniature dachshunds:

  • The breeder should ask you more questions about your fitness to parent than you ask about the dog.
  • The breeder probably should tell you that they have no puppies now but may have some in the future… even if they have 8-week-old puppies all over their home.  Saying “Not now, but…” takes the pressure off and it’s a great segue to a conversation about your lifestyle and ability to take care of a dog.
  • If a breeder has puppy picture books and grabs you as you go by the bench, smile at them, but do not stop. 

If you know what breed you’re interested in, the show is a good place to meet breeders and to get an introduction to the local owners.  If you’re shopping for the best breed for your apartment, family, or elderly relative, the Cow Palace show lets you do your breed comparisons by walking from row to row.

If you’re interested in seeing dogs judged (a la Westminster) you can also visit the rings in the center of the building where judging starts at 8:30 and Best in Show comes about 4 (I think).  You can look up the ring time for a breed you’re interested in online.

We have loved our time on the bench at the Cow Palace shows.  We’ve met little old German women coming by on walkers who teared up when they saw Sequel and remembered a dachshund from their youth.  We’ve been assaulted by exuberant five-year-olds pointing at her shouting, “What kind of dog is THAT?”  We’ve heard many stories of dogs gone by who enriched the lives of the people who stopped by our spot on the bench.

Come on down… and stop by the dachshund area in the South Hall (out back).

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