Matt and Gina Studer looked forward to meeting neighbors in their new subdivision as spring arrived in 2020.
The couple, their three children and the family’s first dog, a golden retrievernamed Chewie, moved into their new house in Hilliard’s River Landings subdivision in late 2019.
However, the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 made meeting new people a challenge.
But the family’s golden retriever helped them make the best of a challenging time.
“Chewie helped us meet new people and make friends here. Everyone who saw us walking him would say ‘hi’ and ask to pet him,” said Matt Studer, who entered Chewie in the first River Landings' dog show June 26.
Organized by River Landings resident Kim Emch, the event had about 30 dog owners parading their pets on Cutwater Lane before about 75 spectators, who lined up lawn chairs on the sidewalk to observe the show.
Dog owners wrote their own name and that of their dog, as well as its breed, which Emch announced via a loudspeaker as each owner showed their dog.
Emch, who has lived in River Landings with her husband, Scott, for 18 years, said she had the idea for a dog show after seeing so many different kinds of dogs in the neighborhood.
Emch advertised the show on the subdivision’s Facebook account. No pre-registration was required and the show was not judged.
“I just thought it would be a great way to bring our neighborhood together (and) an opportunity for dog lovers to get together and meet each other, too,” Emch said.
The Emch family has three dogs, a mini labradoodle, Raya, 1; a lab mix, Heidi, 12; and a mixed breed, Rupert, 4, who all were presented in the show.
Other participants included Ruth Dietrich, who showed her 6-year-old mini aussiedoodle, Choya, and a 12-year-old Welsh terrier, Frankie.
“It looked like something that would be a lot of fun and a great way to meet other dogs,” Dietrich said.
Lindsey Tackett said she, too, marked the date on her calendar when she learned about the event on social media.
“I was excited to do it,” said Tackett, whose three children, Eva, Nora and Luke, walked a pair of cavalier King Charles spaniels, 3-year-old Beau and 10-month-old Finn.
Spectators at the show included Holly Cavallaro.
“We live in a neighborhood with a lot of great dogs. I think (this show) is a great way to meet the dogs and their owners,” Cavallaro said.
Emch said it appears the show might evolve into an annual event, something she hopes not only serves as a dog show, but an opportunity for camaraderie and togetherness in a world that has grown polar.
“The neighborhood asked to do it again and add a potluck,” Emch said.
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Walk this Way: River Landings neighbors showcase four-legged friends