Volunteer at the Chiswick House Dog Show, 22 September 2024

Image: Chiswick House Dog Show

Calling all dog loving volunteers!

By Caroline Starkey

The recent opening of the dogs’ playground has drawn visitors’ attention to our wonderful dog-friendly Chiswick House Grounds and we thought it time to share more about our annual Chiswick House Dog Show, and the volunteering involved. It is our 20th Show this year and as the show has gone from strength to strength over the last 20 years, so have the volunteers!

Images: ‘Dogter Who’ and Dalmations

Held at the end of September, our Dog Show is one of the major community events in West London, and attracts thousands of visitors (with and without dogs) every year. Held on the Chiswick House cricket pitch, it’s the largest free dog show in London, raising money specifically for Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, focussing on ‘dog-related’ activities in the grounds such as the recycling of dog waste, shrub and tree maintenance (dogs love trees!), and other garden projects.

READ ALSO: Chiswick House Dog Show celebrates 20 years


The show is organised run entirely by a committee of local dog-owners, but it couldn’t take place on the day without the support of a large pack of volunteers ready and willing to turn their hands to just about anything!

Image: Jan Preece, aka ‘Top Dog’ at the dog show

At 7am on the day of the show, as dawn breaks, 35 volunteers start setting up the show, directing 72 commercial, catering and charity stall vehicles on and off the cricket pitch; erecting gazebos, flags and signs; then moving tables, chairs and boxes from the cricket pavilion to their show pitches.

Before the show starts at10.30 am, more volunteers of all ages organise and set up the Registration, Information and Volunteers’ Desks, the ‘Green Room,’ Dog-Bola Stall and the Dog Show Bar. It’s volunteers who staff these during the show, and yet more who dismantle them afterwards and return the ground to its pre-show state by 7pm.

Image: Volunteers helping out

The three competition rings are manned by volunteer Judges, Marshals, Ring Stewards and Runners with volunteer PhoDOGraphers to take the official pictures. Whilst the Show Stewards – true Dogs-Bodies – not only help visitors, hand out show guides, and keep the dogs watered, they also restock the toilet rolls and keep the recycling and refuse under control.

The all-important ‘Charity Bucket Rattlers,’ tempting leftover small change from your pockets are, of course, also volunteers. We try not to be ageist! However, only over-25’s can set up or help on the Bar for licensing reasons, and we have some roles exclusively for children, aged nine or over.

Image: Volunteers helping out

Like our adult volunteers, many become regulars and then recruit their parents, friends and neighbours. One of our regular ‘Volunteers of the Year’ started at the age of eight and, now nearly 18, is coming back from college to help again this year.

Caroline Starkey is the Chiswick House Dog Show Volunteer Coordinator / Chief Dogsbody

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar