As we wave goodbye to summer, and the fall weather begins to loom around us, one of the region’s signature annual events comes into focus—the dog show.
Launched in 1879 and staged continuously since 1933, it has evolved into one of the most prominent and prestigious in America and the world. Organized by the non-profit Kennel Club of Philadelphia, this year’s National Dog Show weekend is set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19–20, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. But it comes into focus now because it has spawned a whole series of canine-centered events dubbed by the KCP as National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia.
Two things make Philadelphia’s show special. One is the Thanksgiving Day broadcast of the Saturday show on NBC following the Macy’s Parade. Now 15 years in, the two-hour special generates a total audience of 25 million people during that convenient time slot following the famed Macy’s Parade and before NFL football takes over the rest of the day.
For the breeders, owners, handlers and the public who come to spectate, it is special because Philadelphia is benched. Of the 3,500 or so dog shows in the U.S., only New York City (Westminster), Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia arrange for all of the dogs to locate on a bench in specific locations all day long so that the public can visit the dogs, talk to their people, learn about breed characteristics and marvel at the wonders of the species.
Herewith, National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia:
- To get you in the mood, the KCP now has The National Dog Show Charity Walk to kick off the month on Sunday, Oct. 16, at Wilson Farm Park in Wayne. The family-friendly event will be filled with fun games, prizes, agility and service dog demos, and a special performance by GymOlympic Academy of Exton, which will start the day with a group of teenage gymnasts walking on their hands with the dogs leashed to their ankles. Benefitting charities are Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, New Leash on Life USA, PACT for Animals, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, Morris Animal Refuge, Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue and Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation. It’s $20 per individual, $35 per family, all dogs are free and all monies go to the charities. Just show up or register in advance at crowdrise.come/NDSCharityWalk.
- The National Dog Show Press Preview follows on Thursday, Nov. 10. Hosted by Petplan Inc., at the pet insurance company’s offices in Newtown Square, the event isn’t open to the public but will raise up to $5,000 for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House through Petplan donations for every media member or celebrity who goes down the slide in its corporate, kid-friendly playroom. (PA Meetings + Events Editor, Nancy DePalma, is planning to do this!)
- Then, the dog show goes artsy with the children’s theater musical The Perfect Dog playing for the first time at Norristown’s Centre Theatre on DeKalb Pike (Route 202). The Friday night performance is set for Nov. 11 at 7 p.m., and the Saturday matinee is at 3 p.m. the following day. Produced and promoted by B Sharp Productions of King of Prussia, the play is adapted from John O’Hurley’s children’s book of the same name. O’Hurley is the Seinfeld ensemble cast member (Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman) who hosts The National Dog Show Presented by Purina broadcast on NBC and was inspired to write the book by his toddler son’s question: Is there a perfect dog? Tickets ($10) are available at BSharpProd.com.
- The National Dog Show Gala, the fourth annual charity affair, takes the spotlight on Friday night, Nov. 18, in the Grand Ballroom at Valley Forge Casino Resort. The gala raises money for PRMH, PAWS and PVF. Guests will be treated to a cocktail hour, sit-down dinner, program and a themed adaptation of O’Hurley’s one-man show, A Man With Standards. Tickets, priced at $200, can be purchased at crowdrise.com/TheNationalDogShowGala. O’Hurley’s National Dog Show Presented by Purina on-air partners, David Frei and Mary Carillo, will also be in attendance, along with the National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team.
- Then, it’s the century-old tradition of the KCP’s National Dog Show on the weekend of Nov. 19–20. The show provides what may be the best entertainment value in the Delaware Valley with tickets priced at $16 for adults, $7 for kids 4–12 and three-and-under are free. Temple University conducted a survey for the KCP in 2014 and determined that the average family spends three-and-a-half hours at the show. Do the math and the adult ticket costs $4.57 per hour and the kids at $2 per hour. More info and tickets are available at NationalDogShow.com.
Marina Del Conte is a senior at West Chester University and is looking to pursue a career in public relations and marketing upon graduating. She is a dog lover and hopes to have the chance to work closely with animals in the future. In the meantime, she’ll be with 2,000 dogs at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show Nov. 19–20 in Oaks, Pa.