WHAT MAKES A SPECIALTY SPECIAL?
A few years ago, we asked our club members "What Makes A Specialty Special?" Here are two of the many wonderful responses that we received.
Rachel Venier, Orchard Hill Cavaliers:
The Bay Area Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club gives us a forum to gather every month to educate ourselves about our dogs' genetic health, learn how we can improve the care we give the dogs we presently own and improve the health of future generations. Along the way, we find plenty of time to enjoy our dogs (Fun Day). The October specialty is the culmination of all the work and study we do in the club throughout the year. The specialty is when we showcase our breeding stock and performance Cavaliers to Cavalier breeders and fanciers from around the country. Unlike an all-breed dog show, in addition to the regular conformation classes, the specialty offers puppy and veteran sweepstakes, and obedience and junior handling classes* open only to Cavaliers. This all-day focus on the breed allows us to improve our "eye" for a correct Cavalier as we study dogs of all ages and observe breed experts evaluate them.
Sharing the same venue and occurring the day before the nationally renown Del Valle Dog Show, the Bay Area Cavalier Specialty has the unique opportunity to associate itself with this prestigious event, as well as the challenge of providing a specialty experience deserving of the association. The specialty drew over 100 entries last year, with people traveling from every region of the country and Canada to show their Cavaliers, see our Bay Area dogs, and enjoy the Bay Area club's hospitality. This year, our specialty committee is going all-out to provide a memorable specialty experience, from the welcome bags at the hotel to the trophies to the banquet and auction after the show.*
So what sets a specialty apart from a regular dog show is that a specialty is a celebration of a specific breed, both in the ring and outside it. What sets the BACKCSC specialty apart from other Cavalier specialties-for me-is the club that hosts it in its idyllic venue. As an "import" to California, I am constantly impressed with the camaraderie of the Northern California Cavalier people, and with the goodwill they extend toward their fellow competitors. They make the specialty a true celebration of the dogs. The Bay Area club does not forget a detail in its hospitality, setting out coffee and cookies all day and decorating the ring to fit the occasion. The weather is always sunny and the fairgrounds provide an ideal dog show setting. Add to that plenty of vendors and food, and multiple other breed specialties going on at the same time if you have time to walk away from the Cavalier ring. These aspects of the specialty are what set it apart in my mind, from any other dog show I've attended. It's a great experience every year, and true point of pride for our club.
*This was written several years ago... however, the specialty committee is going all-out as usual!
Joanne Nash, Rambler Cavaliers and Dals:
What makes a Specialty “special”? It’s an EVENT, a gathering of fanciers of a breed. A specialty is like a meeting of the clan, an event where those with a common interest can indulge in a shared obsession and enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Usually specialty point wins are majors, and so are the all-breed shows that may be the same week-end – a plus to begin with. These wins are prestigious, because of the quality and quantity of the competition. Clubs try to choose a judge who is well-respected in the breed, whether a breeder judge or all-rounder, and extra classes, such as Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes, are offered, where money prizes actually are awarded. Specialties often have fancier prize ribbons (rosettes), and trophies are usually awarded for wins.
Besides the show itself, there may be a special program, such as a speaker on a breed-related topic, and a post-Specialty dinner with a silent and/or live auction of breed-related items. Clubs often provide welcome bags and try to make the Specialty a special, enjoyable event for all that attend.
The best, most important part of the specialty is the dogs, beautiful specimens of their breed. The show attracts exhibitors and dogs from other areas, veteran dogs get to show again, often well-known dogs are in attendance, potential stud dogs or a kennel one admires may be seen – and, sometimes, a dog is entered that simply takes one’s breath away....
*In the past, the BACKCSC held an independent specialty, and held all of the classes that Rachel mentions. This year, we are a designated specialty. Our show will take place during the first day of the Del Valle Kennel Club's all breed show. We are not able to hold our own obedience and junior handling classes, but they will be offered by Del Valle.
Want to know more about dog shows?
Click here for the AKC Guide to Dog Shows