Attending my first dog show since the COVID-19 lockdown
Like every other dog show enthusiast in southwestern Ontario, I had an alarm on my phone that alerted me to when entries were going to open for the Elgin County Kennel Club dog show. I was thrilled to receive the confirmation email letting me know that two of my dogs were entered. The excitement of showing again along with all my “dog friends” (who are human) really gave me something to look forward to amid the pandemic and honestly, that was worth the cost of the entry fees.
As the dates grew nearer, I started to wonder how this outdoor event would take place safely during this pandemic. When I got the judging schedule sent to me, the rules were clearly explained. Along with a waiver that need to be printed, filled and signed by all entering the grounds, the rules were clearly defined and entrants were told that if they could not comply with the rules they should simply not attend.
These rules included:
-The waiver had to be signed, by Club Members, Judges, Ring Stewards, Exhibitors, Owners, Handlers, Breeders, Assistants, Volunteers, Vendors, Family Members and Friends. This was for both safety at the show and in the case contact tracing was necessary – the club would have all necessary contact information.
- Masks had to be worn correctly over mouth and nose. This was mandatory for Exhibitors, Judges, Stewards in the rings during judging. Masks had to be worn under the tents in the vendor area, while in the washrooms, in any other location where 2 meters apart could not be maintained.
-Each ring had a clearly defined entrance and exit, as well as social distancing markers.
-Social distancing of 2 meters apart was mandatory in the rings, under the tents, adjacent ring areas, at the Show Secretary’s table and at the Photographer’s booth.
-Exhibitors could pick up their placement ribbons themselves as they exit the ring.
-There was no recycling of ribbons. If you didn’t want your ribbon, you simply didn’t take it on your way out of the ring.
- Exhibitors were asked to return to their set up after they had exhibited their dog.
- Attendees had to bring their own chairs as no seating was provided.
- Exhibitors were encouraged to bring their own pop-up shade tents which helped maintain social distancing.
-Hand washing was encouraged greatly as was staying in your own bubble.
To say that I was impressed by not only the order in which this show was run, but also by the manner in which every human who attended the show complied with the rules would be an understatement. The event was not open to the public and that was clearly stated in front of the Dorchester Fairgrounds.
Friendly gatekeepers ensured that everyone entering had a signed waiver and a wrist band before going into the show. I did not see anyone without a mask on at any point, anywhere on the fairgrounds. Friends that I hadn’t seen in half a year whom I would normally hug greeted me from 2 meters with kind words and a wave. Hand sanitizer was available at multiple spots in and around the rings and even the washroom stalls were separated to insure proper social distancing.
I don’t like the term “new normal” because none of what we’ve experienced so far in 2020 is normal. I will however say that, for the time being, if shows can go on with proper planning and rule following, my world feels a bit more normal.
Thank you to the Elgin County Kennel Club for an incredible show and putting forth an incredible example of how a show can go on during COVID-19.