What Exactly Happens at a Springer National Specialty?

A couple of weeks ago, the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association held their National Specialty event at Purina Farms just west of St. Louis, Missouri.  If you’re like I was a few years ago, you might be asking yourself, what’s this all about?  What goes on at these events?  Does this have anything at all to do with rescued English Springer Spaniels?  

I had to see for myself.  So, back in 2007 when I first heard about something called a National Specialty for Springer Spaniels, I decided to travel from Texas to Lexington, Kentucky to check it out.  I was absolutely astounded by what I found.  There were all kinds of events and  I met some amazing people who ultimately led me to volunteering for ESRA. 

The next National Specialty was to be held in Dallas the following year.  At that time, I lived in Dallas so I attended again and met local ESRA volunteers who were so fun and welcoming.  I’ve been volunteering with ESRA ever since and have attended two more National Specialty events where I accompanied my rescued Springers Linus and Lila in the Parade of Rescues.

What can you expect if you decide to attend a National Specialty for Springers?  There are a number of competition events during the week, including Conformation (like you see on tv), Scent, Obedience, Agility and Rally trials.


In addition to the competition events, there is the Parade of Rescues where rescued Springer Spaniels take a lap around the show ring with their owners while the audience listens to the story of their rescue.  There is never a dry eye in the house during this event and it is a personal favorite of mine.  It is truly a feeling of joy to walk your best buddy around that ring while everyone applauds and cheers.


These rescued Springers are each so special and have amazing stories.  It’s just a very emotional and beautiful experience to participate in or observe.

The National Specialty is a great place to learn more about Springer Spaniels and what kinds of activities they can participate in.  We had an adopter drive up from Arkansas this year for that very reason.  In addition, two ESRA Springers passed all ten of the requirements to earn their Canine Good Citizen Certificates.  The Canine Good Citizen Program is an AKC (American Kennel Club) two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.

You can’t have a party without some good food, so naturally ESRA volunteers find time to gather for dinner and camaraderie.  There is also a silent auction full of beautiful specialty items for all budgets.  Perhaps the best part of attending one of these Specialties is the special friendships that are formed and enhanced during this week of Springer togetherness.  ESRA also has a fabulous booth manned by many volunteers and their ESRA representatives.

So, if this article has intrigued you at all, the next English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association National Specialty will be Saturday, October 5, 2019 through Saturday, October 12, 2019 in San Diego, California.  I know it’s on my list to attend for some of the events.  It’s not necessary to be there the whole week unless you’re participating in some of the competition events.  Most of the rescue events take place over the weekend.  There is also a website that will keep you up to date on all of the latest information.  We hope to see you there for more Springer fun!