At first I was happy that the Summer Corgi Con, a gathering of nearly 1,000 of the stubby-legged Welsh herding dogs, was taking place on Ocean Beach in San Francisco instead of just another convention center. I spend too much time in hotel conference rooms and meeting halls, so it was going to be nice to be outside for a change. The problem was that the 100-degree heat in inland California gave half the people in the state the same idea.
Traffic was at a dead crawl on the Great Highway, a stretch of sandy road on the San Francisco coast where turnoffs are few and far between. On a normal day with normal traffic it takes me less than 20 minutes to drive the seven miles between my house and the spot downhill from the famed Cliff House where Corgi Con was being held. On the day of the con, I’d been stuck in this bowling lane gutter of a road for 90 minutes and I still hadn’t closed in on the con site yet.
Road rage was starting to set in, but then I spotted corgis off to the side of the road on the paved pedestrian trail. They were straining at their leashes, their little legs pumping furiously to get to the beach to meet other corgis, cut corgi deals and do whatever dogs do at their own conventions. I also saw other corgis sticking their adorably oversized heads out of backseat windows, their tongues wagging in the sea breeze. The corgis didn’t care that their cars weren’t moving, so why should I?
By the time I’d finally parked the car and trudged through the sand, I found I’d missed the corgi costume contest, but I could still spot the participants milling about in the crowd.
While a lot of the conventions I’ve covered include people dressing like animals (Furries, Bronies), Corgi Con has animals dressing like people. There were business pooches in hats and ties, and casual corgis in Hawaiian shirts and summer dresses. The general consensus among human convention-goers was that the dog dressed as Wonder Woman won the contest, paws down. When I saw her in the crowd, the canine Amazon princess was very popular both with people attempting to take selfies with her and other dogs beckoning her with friendly arfs to roll around in the sand with them.
Somewhere on that beach, corgis were leaping over hurdles and crawling through tunnels for something called the “Corgi Ninja Warrior,” but the beach had become too packed with two-legged beach-goers to really move around. The road rage was starting to come back, but then I’d spot corgis splashing in the waves or digging in the sand. There were corgis with shark fins on their backs, another in a lobster costume, and still others wearing oversized sunglasses.
And while it may have taken a while to get there, Corgi Con certainly delivered the cute explosion I needed.
Every month in “Shattering Conventions,” author Bob Calhoun crashes a new tradeshow, convention or conference looking for a way to fit in—even when he doesn't always belong. Calhoun is the author of "Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor." You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.