Letter to the Editor Dog World.

3rd August 2011

Wasted Years

Jean Lannings letter and Dog Worlds comment article July 22nd highlights so many of the problems of the present day show scene. While the judge’s development programme may have been running for a decade, many breed clubs have been holding seminars for a lot longer period. Quite who, in their right mind, would conceive that by attending these a new breed of superior judges would emerge, beggar’s belief. It also appears extremely doubtful, that consideration for the present system was ever thought through properly.

Occasionally, a few who have attended the development program, and breed organized seminars have decided that this is not the breed for them, and this decision should be applauded. A few have obtained good pass marks but have continued to seek extra mentoring, again this should be applauded. Sadly it seems that so many, once the individual breed program has ended, completely cast aside the teachings that have been presented. They look upon the day as just another breed collected. The time is long passed for judges, or prospective ones, to question their motives for venturing on a judging career. Let us ask ourselves, are we in it for the breeds, or self glorification?

When one all-rounder draws an entry of seventy odd and another one giving C.C.’s in the same breed for the first time draws an entry in the thirties, then surely it is a clear indication that something is wrong with the system. In financial terms it is a loss, to the society, of around £1000 and to make matters worse it does not look a one off incident. This societies past entry record, also shows that over the past three years this is the second time the breed has dropped to the thirty levels. Most certainly, in my business, I would have made a thorough investigation. After all, at the end of the day these losses have to be picked up by someone and without question that’s the exhibitor The results should have been analysed, and enquiries should have been made to ascertain why this occurred. Maybe heads should have rolled and maybe certain invitations should dry up for those judges responsible for drawing such low entries. This could be seen as a prime example of what is so wrong with today’s show scene. The constant pushing forward of certain judges who are, putting it quite simply, not fit for the purpose. !

Because one has the necessary time, finance and academic qualifications to attend these events, it doesn’t necessarily follow that an array of talent will automatically be produced.

In fact it does seem that quite the opposite has occurred. Consideration should have been given to education around the breed show ring. In past years, watching a days judging of different breeds, was the main way one had of developing an eye for them and that’s what it’s all about. Today we have the internet, and this should be used far more by some breed clubs for furthering education. Reserve C.C’s winners classes could be introduced at all General Ch Shows, these along with the Stakes classes, if used wisely, could provide a starting ground for those who have been successful over many years. The dog show world does have an enormous amount of untapped talent, and its time Kennel Club woke up to this.

When I first came into dogs, in the early fifties, allrounders were looked up to, and likewise the vast majority of breed judges also. Sadly the last twenty years has seen a never ending decline in the respect for both breed and all-rounder judges. It is a proven fact that by the discussions around the rings, benches, caravan parks and e-mails, that so many of the new generation of judges are being manipulated and sadly, also laughed at.

To be extremely successful in business I learnt one lesson very early in life, that to remain competitive and be successful one must always fully understand market conditions. Be prepared to move on, or, far more importantly, know when something in your marketing is not working to the present day conditions. It is no crime to change ones business strategy, do U turns, or listen and understand the needs of ones clients.

The show scene, if it is ever going to recover should be seen as a level playing field for all. Free, from what many see as being controlled by a highly privileged minority. Show society committees must ensure, in the interest of their future prosperity, that the favouritism being shown to a certain few exhibitors at the present time, should never be allowed to occur in the future. Committees must understand that the judges car park is used solely for that purpose. It is now well noticed that a privileged few exhibitors are obtaining judging passes. Certainly this does not leave a great impression of fair play, that when, after winning a group, the exhibitor then pulls the loaded trolley to their vehicle in the judge’s car park.

With judging standards and entries falling it seems a great pity that the recent kennel Club AGM wasted so much time on the trivial matter of coat testing. There must be a 101 more important proposals that could have been put foreward to help reverse the present trend. Like, maybe the time has come, for discussion on the effect, presence and future of sponsorships at shows. Maybe a drugs testing procedure should be looked into, after all it does seem to have crept into every other sport and walk of life. Maybe the time is long passed that when one reaches a judging level, of say group judge, they no longer exhibit.

Maybe it time to look into the considerable amount of power that that some hold on different committees both within and outside the Kennel Club, and on many occasions it could well be argued that this could cause a conflict of interests.

Maybe one proposal could have been placed on the agenda that would have covered all, that is, that the kennel Club set up an independent enquiry that would make recommendations for the future of shows, and show societies.

There is a great deal of dissent amongst the show going fraternity, as is being shown in the drastic and never ending fall of entries. The time has come for the K.C., show societies and judges to look to their laurels, otherwise, in a few years time the great dog shows that we have been so renowned for in this country, will be a thing of the past.

Like Jean Lanning, I also hope, under a new Kennel Club Chairman that new directions will be looked into, along with a listening ear, not just to the privileged few, but the vast majority of ordinary folk, without whom the dog shows would not be possible.


Peter Clifton.