The Canadian Kennel Club’s staff volunteers and member-ambassadors kept busy over Easter weekend, tending a booth at the well-attended Spring Canadian Pet Expo. Situated near the end of “Breeder’s Row,” the easily identifiable signature blue-and-white CKC booth proved to be a popular stop for passers-by — probably thanks to volunteers’ dogs “Maggie” the jovial Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, “Zorra” the comical Chinese Crested, and “Munsel” the poised Do Khyi (Tibetan Mastiff) puppy. Other member-ambassadors also generously volunteered their time and expertise, including a couple of extraordinarily well-trained Black Russian Terriers, whose antics amidst the teeming show hall attracted a large crowd of spectators. The dogs’ owners and CKC staff knowledgeably answered numerous and varied questions from what seemed like an endless stream of curious visitors.
Having a young, diverse, engaging, and relatable group of purebred dog owners at the booth appealed to many attendees. There was a real keenness to learn more about the organization, and the raison d’être of purebred dogs and breeders. Volunteers, staff, and ambassadors all did an impeccable job highlighting the many positive aspects of purebred dogs and responsible breeders; the rich heritage of breeds, predictability of important characteristics, and a support system for life were explained. This was coupled with a strong emphasis on responsible dog ownership, with books and pamphlets being widely distributed in the hope of cultivating educated dog owners. The message being conveyed was clear, concise, and consistent:
- Take time to educate yourself before making any decisions
- Seek a reputable breeder to build a relationship with
- Be a responsible owner for the lifetime of your canine companion
In line with the goal of promoting responsible dog ownership, The Canadian Kennel Club’s Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) test was offered and proved, as always, to be exceptionally popular. The CGN programme identifies and rewards responsible, caring owners and their dogs. The purpose of the programme is to ensure that the dog remains a valued member of society, counted on to be well mannered at home, in public, and in the presence of other dogs. As such, handlers are evaluated on their relationship with their dog and ability to maintain control, while dogs are evaluated on their ability to perform basic exercises, as well as demonstration of good manners in every day situations. Evaluators June Ward and Naomi Kane happily report that a record number of dogs took the test and passed with flying colours.
Much to the surprise of everyone present, some not-so-common breeds stopped by the CKC booth, notably a couple of beautiful Dogo Argentinos, a few handsome Central Asian Shepherds, and even one or two awe-inspiring Caucasian Shepherds! Though most had been imported from overseas, some were born in Canada, and their owners were eager to learn more about the process of new breed recognition. We look forward to watching these breeds grow in this country under the stewardship of a caring breed community and eventually gaining full Canadian Kennel Club recognition. In the meanwhile, their owners were informed about the option of applying for a Canine Companion Number (CCN), allowing them to partake in some of the varied performance events offered by the CKC.
All in all, it was a successful weekend, reinforcing the need for The Canadian Kennel Club to spread awareness about the purebred dog and responsible breeders with the aim of cultivating educated owners with happy, healthy four-legged friends. Public outreach remains of critical importance in achieving this, and the Canadian Pet Expo was an excellent venue to reach large numbers of the dog-loving public. Our sincere thanks to the member-breeders and breed clubs who tirelessly worked at their own booths, volunteers and member ambassadors who helped at the CKC booth, and last but definitely not least, the dogs who inspire us to move forward.