Duck herding … it’s a thing. That’s one of the surprises at The Michigan Winter Dog Classic 2020 in Novi, Michigan. This four-day annual dog show attracts 160 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, along with the local Oakland County Kennel Club and the Livonia Kennel Club, to the Suburban Collection Showplace.
Spectators are welcome – along with their dogs – at $10 a person, which is why myself and my dog Victor ended up spending another weekend in Michigan. We made a similar pilgrimage last fall (check it out here).
Actually, we’ve been to Michigan a lot – it’s one of the most dog-friendly states we’ve been to based on the number of dog-friendly adventures we’ve had(check out our first here), doggie daycare available at the All-American Pet Resort, Dog Bowl annual festival in Frankenmuthand pet-friendly Mackinac Island, one of our favourite adventures to date.
Stands to reason, The Michigan Winter Dog Classic in Novi was on our road-trip list because many of the pups competing are gearing up for a run (or circle jog) at the annual Westminster Dog Show in New York City in February.
Dog shows, especially one with more than 7,000 dogs, are generally for the participants and they get priority access to rings and the grooming zone – which is fun to walk through and check out all the beautiful pooches primping and preening.
But, there’s additional fun for spectators at The Michigan Winter Dog Classic, especially on this snowy holiday weekend, January 16 to 19, 2020. Sign up to give your dog a go at the agility course; encourage them to take the Canine Good Citizen Test; and let them bark (as many did) at the Dock Diving competitors leaping into a giant pool of water. Dock Diving contestants preregister.
Of course, there were vendors: dog gear, toys, homemade treats, and many t-shirts, hoodies and jackets emblazoned with specific dog breeds.
What about duck herding?
Ok, that’s not open to any dog for good reason. Trained herding dogs demonstrate their skills by carefully moving a small group of ducks over obstacles including a slide into a pond and through a gate into a carrier. The dogs are calm and gentle, taking cues from the human giving commands. And the ducks are far less flustered than if my terrier had been after them.
Herding collies are fascinating – loved watching them at the annual sheep herding event in Kingston, Ontario (see here) last summer. Ducks allow them to do their thing in smaller spaces.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Michigan is a very dog-friendly state, like thanks to an appreciation for the great outdoors, which there is a lot of. Novi, however, isn’t specifically a dog-friendly destination unless you’re attending the annual Winter Classic Dog show.
We stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Farmington Hills, about five to ten-minute drive away from the Suburban Collection Showcase convention centre host to the dog show. All Red Roof Inns are pet-friendly and that was obvious dog-show weekend. The staff are excellent; however, the building is a bit run down. Rooms are carpeted (unlike many of the Red Roof Plus properties), and ours smelled like canine pee. Of course, that can set off your dog. Mine spent the night in a pee wrap, just in case. (affiliate link). I travel with them now.
I recommend checking out Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum at 31005 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Located behind a big-box strip mall of stores, this family arcade is open every day of the year (yes, even Christmas) from morning to evening (11 pm on weekends).
Half modern midway games dispensing tickets and half storage unit filled floor to ceiling with memorabilia and collectibles from circuses, sideshows and boardwalks of days gone by, Marvin’s is truly marvelous. You can’t bring the dog in to load coins in the pinball machines or antique Zelda fortune teller, but you can see a replica RCA dog on the wall.
Outside the doors you can shop at Hunter’s Square Plaza: Bed, Bath and Beyond; Marshalls and Off Saks all had no issue with me bringing my dog inside the stores.