PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY ANN SHULER
In early February, on a chilly, wind-whipped weekend, some 500 dogs filled the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds. From puppies to adult, pure-bred canines, alongside 40 breed-information booths and other vendors and exhibitors, the Lehigh Valley Kennel Club (LVKC) showcased their 2017 Canine Learning Experience (CLE).
For the expert breeders and American Kennel Club (AKC) participants as well as amateur dog appreciators and those simply looking to learn about and see firsthand a favorite breed, the CLE provided something for everyone and their dog.
“Various people come for various reasons,” explains Janie Hecker of the LVKC. “You’ll have people coming for the match show because they have a puppy. You’ll also have people, like I was a few years ago, because of all the different breeds there, looking to get a dog.”
Dominic DiBalsi, AKC delegate for the LVKC and 2017/18-CLE Chairperson, adds, “The general public and anyone who wants to know about these dogs will find people showing their expertise in specific breeds. …There’s something for everyone.”
On that Saturday, February 4, attendees and participants were treated to the LVKC’s AKC-sanctioned 40th Annual All Breed Match Show, the Puppy Sweepstakes (a show just for puppies) and, of course, the breeder booths and vendors.
The following day offered an impressive variety of center-stage seminars, which included, among others, Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, a holistic veterinarian and canine acupuncturist; Puppy Kindergarten; Parade of Breeds; and the winners of LVKC’s storytelling contest with finalists, grades six through 10, reading their tales. There was also Tails of Valor Paws of Honor, a program about “non-medical therapies with service canines to veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and physical disabilities;” Ronni Yaskin, a certified canine massage therapist; and Dr. Donna Gigliotti DC, a veterinary chiropractor. An AKC-regulation obedience and rally trial also took place.
“The obedience and rally trials are AKC-sanctioned, so people can get points on their dog and ribbon,” Hecker details. “With the obedience, the dog goes through various sits and stays, walks, runs, turnarounds. It’s a course they must complete, and there are points depending on how well they do the course. The rally is also a course but different in that it’s more regimented. They both lead to ribbons and points toward a title.”
While the temperatures and the windchill were typical of February in the Lehigh Valley that weekend, the previous year brought a cancelation of the CLE due to the misfortune of being scheduled the weekend when three feet of snow fell upon the East Coast.
Not just compared to last year’s snow-out, but also previous years, the LVKC has seen an uptick in attendance.
“Our programs aren’t just geared to the general public and the pet owner, but also to the people in the dog shows and breeders,” explains DiBalsi. “There are some pretty good speakers who people would love to see as well.”
The LVKC is looking forward to growing the CLE in 2018.
“Next year, we would like to keep with the same theme, and add more, different programs,” DiBalsi says.
The LVKC was founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1928. With more than 60 current members and 11 board members, the LVKC’s vision statement is “to promote responsible ownership and enjoyment of pure-bred dogs through education, training and AKC-sanctioned events.”
In addition to the CLE, the LVKC’s main points shows take place the second week of September and the third week of December.
“We’ve been putting on the September and December shows since the club’s existence,” says DiBalsi.
For more information about the LVKC as well as updates on the upcoming September and December shows and next year’s CLE, visit lvlc.org.