The photo is courtesy of Claire Kowalec.
Written by Sophie Lajnef
On February 3rd, 2019, Birmingham Youth Assistance hosted the 38th Annual Kids Dog Show at Berkshire Middle School.
Ann Nazareth Manning has been chairing this event for four years and has been responsible for many duties related to the preparation of the event.
“[I handle] All the advanced promotion, releases to the newspapers, publicity to all the schools, tracking registrations, selecting the events, arranging for judges, seeking sponsorship, getting prizes, planning for concessions. A little bit of everything,” Manning said.
Categories for this year’s show were Best Dog Costume, Best Looking, Most Obedient, Best Trick, Waggiest Tail, and Best in Show. In the contest, kids can earn medals and other prizes for their dogs.
“For each event, we’ve got medals for second and third place, and they’re fun, sparkly paw print medals that the little ones will like. There’s an organization called Fluff and Tuff that donates really good toys, [and] they each get to pick a dog toy,” Manning said. “Mark Palmer from Premier Pet Supply gives them gift cards to his store, and for the grand prize winner, there’s a big basket with a couple hundred dollars’ worth of everything that he also provides. Everyone coming in gets a goody bag with about a 25 dollar value with toys and treats. Earthborn Holistic gives a free bag of dog food to give to each contestant.”
As far as the cost goes, she said that the $15 enrollment price tag is affordable and is a great deal.
“It costs 15 dollars for each dog, and that’s an afternoon of fun, admission for the whole family, 25 dollars worth of free stuff,” Manning said.
This event is made possible by contributions from local business owners, and residents of Birmingham, with help from other non-profits.
“The judges are chosen to try and represent stakeholders in the area. We have an Oakland County commissioner, we have the mayor pro-tem of Birmingham, we have someone from a local dog training club, we’ve got Mike Palmer, the owner of Premier Pet Supply, and he also donated the goody bags and a lot of prizes. The show would not happen without him. He has been backing us incredibly for more than 20 years. He helps with the planning, he’s amazing, he really is,” Manning said. “Pam Roar, she’s from Southern Michigan Obedience Training Club, she has been helping for 25 years doing a dog obedience demonstration. Her organization also supports us financially even though they’re a non-profit themselves.”
The MC for the event is Principal Jason Clinkscale of Berkshire Middle School, who graciously allows Birmingham Youth Assistance to use the Berkshire gymnasium for the show.
“Our MC is Jason Clinkscale, who is the principal at Berkshire, and he has been doing this for eight years, so we have a lot of people, long-time supporters. Adrienne Young also is a judge and she is on the Board of Education. Even Ross Reemer, from Music and Motion, is our DJ, and I never knew there were so many songs about dogs; he finds them all. He does a great job,” Manning said.
Several additional sponsors, many of which are local businesses, help to make the event happen each year.
“Beverly Hills Veterinary Clinic is usually here volunteering, they couldn’t this year, but they support us financially. Mills Pharmacy, they are here for the first time this year. They have a veterinary program with their pharmaceuticals, and they work with vets to customize medications to dogs’ weights and special needs,” Manning said. “So we’re really tickled with all the generous sponsors that are helping us.”
The community effort put forth towards this unifying event is a reflection of the mission of the Birmingham Youth Assistance: to strengthen youth and families and to reduce the incidence of delinquency, abuse, and neglect through community involvement.
“We provide counseling to kids that are facing challenges in their lives, kids and families, and one thing I think is cool is we give second chances. If you have a kid who’s gotten into a little trouble with the law–vandalism, possession–the courts and police will often refer them to us, and we work with them through counseling and community service,” Manning said. “We also provide summer camp scholarships for kids who just have a rough time with their home life, if there’s been some abusive circumstances, if there’s drugs, just to let them get away and relax and have a little positive experience. So we probably send 35 or 40 kids to camp each year.”
BYA also leads education programs in schools, and encourages families from Birmingham and the surrounding areas to participate in family-friendly events.
“On the flip side, we not only deal with the challenges, but we try and build stronger families. We have this kids’ dog show, Breakfast with Santa, Touch a Truck coming up in May–it’s at Bingham Farms School, it’s where kids can get up close and personal with dump trucks, fire trucks, police cars and climb in them,” Manning said. “One of my favorites [is also] the Youth and Service Recognition. You hear a lot in the papers about bad kids, but you don’t hear enough about the good ones. So we have teachers, counselors, school administrators, pastors, a lot of community leaders recommending kids who go above and beyond for community service, and we recognize those [kids] in the ceremony every April.”
BYA offers a scholarship to the nominee whom they believe is the most outstanding. The organization also takes time to appreciate kids who have contributed to their local communities while struggling with physical health problems or disabilities.
“It’s amazing what kids will do… It’s a real honor to recognize them,” Manning said.
Additionally, all profits from the dog show will be put towards programs for local youth like these.
“Our intention is to break even–we’re not trying to make money. But when we do, it all goes into our camp scholarship program,” Manning said.
Sydney Cokroft and Lila McLoughlin are students at Derby Middle School who participated in the dog show. Both girls received a flyer at their school encouraging them to enter their pets, but Cokroft had also attended the dog show previously.
“I have been here before, but with my old dog, two years ago. I think there’s one missing event this year,” Cokroft said.
McLoughlin explained the events in which the girls entered their dogs.
“We entered in the Best Looking and Best Costume,” McLoughlin said.
Both Cokroft and McLoughlin would return to the event in the future and enter their dogs again.