Children attending Canine Meet the Breeds (top) engage a Labrador retriever. Bred as fishing and hunting dogs, Labs are known to be even-tempered, intelligent, and agile. Below, Williams representatives (from left) Dave Fendt, Tammy Bonnice and Mike Atchie prepare to meet dogs and greet guests of the Meet the Breeds event that Williams sponsored.
Williams Companies, with offices in Towanda and Tunkhannock, switched gears at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year by sponsoring a unique event called Canine Meet the Breeds. After years of sponsoring the popular Celebrity Feed Scurry – a draft horse pulling contest – the pipeline company’s support this year went to the dogs. It proved to be a great move, as Meet the Breeds was a very family-focused event that drew hundreds of participants.
“Thanks to Williams, we were in the New Holland Arena, which gave us lots of room so we could spread out,” said Suzanne Benchoff, a state Dog Law Enforcement Bureau Advisory Board member who emceed the event. “There was plenty of space for the public, including families with strollers.”
Benchoff conducted the event with Kristen Donmoyer, the director for the Dog Law Bureau, which is part of the PA Department of Agriculture. When they last hosted a Meet the Breeds event in 2020, they were in a much smaller space that didn’t allow for much interaction. This year, they also had two days to exhibit canines in another large arena.
The impetus for the Meet the Breeds is to connect the public with purebred dog breeds and help them better understand the differences in their personalities, abilities, and specific needs. While Benchoff has nothing against people adopting dogs from shelters, she noted, “We do want to promote that there are breeds that were bred for specific functions.”
A number of people in attendance asked what dogs are best for families, and Benchoff is happy to say that many purebreds, including sporting dogs, are great for families. “Collies are very affectionate and good with young children,” she related. “And, surprisingly, beagles and boxers are good with kids too. Toy dogs may not be the best choice.”
Another consideration is where the dog will live and how much time the owner has to spend with the animal and to train it. In other words, different breeds may work better on a farm with plenty of space to run, and others may adapt well to apartments and city living.
Equally important for Benchoff and Donmoyer is the need to help educate the public on responsible ownership. “They really do need to get a dog license. It is a legal requirement in the state of PA,” Benchoff explained. “It helps you get reconnected when a dog gets off your property. Unless they have a dog license or a microchip, it’s really hard to reconnect them, especially in a rural area like the state of PA.”
“Williams has been a consistent sponsor of the PA Farm Show for years,” said Williams director of community and project outreach Mike Atchie. “Meet the Breeds represented an opportunity to support a new event, and I really enjoyed the chance to meet the dogs and learn more about them.”
“Working for Williams for 10 years, I have seen them support communities where our employees work and live, but I’m proud to say that we also support the dog-loving community,” Williams Tammy Bonnice remarked. “The ‘Meet the Breeds’ event was especially fun to see, not only kids, but everyone enjoying an event where they can learn about and even touch the puppies.”
PA Dog Law Enforcement Bureau Advisory Board member Suzanne Benchoff gives a hug to a Beauceron, a French breed of herding dog, at the PA Farm Show Complex. Benchoff emceed the Canine Meet the Breeds event there.
PA Sec. Of Agriculture Russell Redding makes friends with a Samoyed at the Canine Meet the Breeds event. Often used as sled dogs in northern climes, Samoyeds are also counted on for hunting and protection.
Youths relax with a Collie during the Meet the Breeds event at the PA Farm Show Complex. Originating from Scotland and Ireland, the herding dog is revered for its loyalty, strength and speed.
A docile Staffordshire Bull Terrier enjoys belly rubs from participants of the Meet the Breeds event. The medium-size terrier is also sometimes called a Stafford or Staffy by its fans.