Saturday afternoon found me at the Great Allentown Fair watching a dog show. Amidst the food stations trying their hardest to sell you their “fresh” lemonade or a variety of fried and sugary foods, you find a small sectioned off area with seating for a couple hundred spectators. From a small white tent, I can hear dogs barking and whining, assured that we are in the right place, my friends, and I take our seats on the collection of white folding chairs lazily scattered across the lawn. We’ve missed the start of the show and don’t intend to stay until the end, I know that the only reason I’m there is to see some cute dogs do some tricks. My expectations aren’t that high.
A middle-aged woman stands at the center of the ring speaking into a microphone headset and getting the crowd hyped up for the next dog to be presented. After some delay, the dog runs out, to mine and the crowd’s great excitement. We now notice that the trainer is holding a stack of frisbees in her hand which she proceeds to throw one by one in succession, progressively faster until it seems like the dog is struggling a little bit to catch some of them. The dog is barking and jumping around the field and you get the feeling that he is really enjoying himself, which makes you feel better watching the show. There is a little girl in front of us who is entranced by the dog and looking around you can see that everyone is having a good time. We’re not too far from the other animals and yet you can’t really smell them at all here (unlike other areas of the Fair where you feel smothered by the smell of goats, cows, and whatnot). People are sitting eating their kettle corn and holding onto the array of cheap (yet greatly coveted) toys won at the various games around the corner.
This section of the fair seems somewhat calmer, most of the people are seated in the shade, the noises of vendors, rides, and games disappears and you can just sit and focus on the one dog with his frisbees and the trainer who is throwing them. For the most part, the trick doesn’t change, and neither does the audience’s reaction. With each new frisbee caught they applaud and cheer for the dog’s skill and the trainer’s discipline in teaching him his routine. I think that the dog looks a bit like a fox the way that he is jumping, I don’t remember what kind of dog the trainer said he was but I think he was a rescue. We watch the finale of the dog show: a final toss of the frisbees which the dog catches easily and then leaps into the trainer’s arms. The crowd stays captive as the next dog comes out but we’re tired and feel like we’ve seen enough for the day, we collect our things and walk home.