How to help our dog family out amid the COVID-19 pandemic
2020 has been like no year we have seen before. This pandemic has given us such enormous amounts of trouble and changed so much- COVID-19 has taken so much of what we took for granted included our beloved dog sports. Gathering with our human “dog friends” is returning slowly, however this pandemic has left many in the fancy without the steady income, or social interaction with their “dog friends” that they were once used to. While many have posted online that they are happy to help out any friends in need, there is so much we can do to look out for one another. Here are some ideas on how to support the hard-working, talented dog lovers in our community.
With shows and trials on hold, it’s a great time to learn a new sport or learn from the best in your dog sport of choice. There are classes in all disciplines being taught throughout the country as we are now in Stage 3. Most have limited class sizes and masks should be worn when social distancing isn’t possible.
I enrolled two of my dogs in obedience classes and we had so much fun that after they passed the first course, we signed up for the next level! Time spent one on one with your dog is special and these classes gave us the opportunity to do just that. And with an hour long class costing roughly the same as two minutes in the conformation ring – it’s a deal!
We’ve also been taking conformation handling classes to brush up on our skills in the ring. Our instructor won the Garden back in 2015 so we really are learning from the best. I go with my partner and a good friend. Although nothing beats the real thing, it feels pretty close to a mini dog show! Maybe next week I will wear a suit…
If you aren’t able to attend a class due to regional social distancing requirements or health reasons, there are plenty of online classes to take. I’m enrolled in a dog show academy lead by one of Canada’s most famous handlers. She took 3 dogs to Top Dog in Canada so she really knows what she’s talking about! I love the flexible learning schedule (I can watch wherever and whenever I want) and that I can go back to review lessons as needed. The academy also has a very interactive presence on social media which I love.
So many of our talented friends in the dog world make extraordinary products. From homemade treats to show leashes, stylish collars to metal art. Why not reach out to a friend on Facebook to find out how you can order directly through them and support a small business? Most products made by your friends in the fancy also make great gifts so plan ahead and order early.
Tons of professional handlers and groomers are offering seminars online. From Poodle trimming to Terrier hand stripping, trick training to advance show techniques Canada’s most talented dog folks are online and willing to share their knowledge for a very reasonable fee.
So many of my handler friends don’t just groom show dogs to perfection, they also keep family pets looking their best. Even if you groom your own dogs, support a friend’s business by following their pages and sharing their posts on social media, giving them great online reviews and buying gift cards for your friends and family members who own dogs.
No matter what changes we are going through, word of mouth remains an awesome marketing technique. My friend is a wonderful Terrier groomer so I asked her for a pile of her business cards. Prior to COVID-19, I used to hand out business cards whenever I saw a Terrier on my walks. Now I tell them where to take their dog from across the street (luckily I have a loud voice and her business’s name is easy to remember).
Podcasts are a fantastic way to gain knowledge from the greats in the dog world. Dog podcasts are so incredibly informative. I listen to dog podcasts at the gym and know so many people to who listen to them on the road. Support dog podcasts by sharing their social media posts and by donating when you can.
2020 has been hard on all of us. More than ever we need to stick together and support one another. Helping out your dog family financially through purchasing their products is a great way to give them income while also helping yourself gain new skills and acquire new products.
There are also ways you can bring some joy to others amid this pandemic and the anxiety it causes. Reach out over the phone, text, email or via social media. Check in. Invite your friends for a socially distanced walk or for a backyard beverage. Whatever you are comfortable with. Engage with your friends by sending them YouTube clips of great dog show moments and ask them what they thought of the entry or the Judge’s decisions. Send puppy pictures and ask them to pick their favourite. Decide that you’ll go on a trip to a new show as soon as the world opens back up and start making plans.
With a bit of effort, we can make our dog friends feel a bit better this year. Take care of one another as the dog world is famous for and don’t be surprised if I tear up when I see you at the next dog show. From a distance of six feet, of course.