Dogs In Review Magazine October 2016 - Page 17

BETWEEN THE LINES Geography Is Destiny BO BENGTSON 14 I would no doubt drive others to distraction — a few might magine a small country that’s about the size of Mississippi even begin to miss the inspiring example of professional but has almost as many registered purebred dogs as the handlers, who hardly exist in most breeds at British shows. entire United States. Got that? Then imagine that in this That you see pretty much the same people and dogs at every country there are only about 30 all-breed shows where you can show might make things feel more predictable than in the US, win championship points each year, but the shorter distances where you just drive a little further if you want to encounter mean that almost everyone can go to all of the shows if they a totally new group of fanciers. (That is counteracted these want to. The smallest of these shows are more than twice as days in the UK by fairly frequent visits of dogs and exhibitors big as an average AKC all-breed show, and the biggest has more from the European continent, however.) And there’s frankly than 20,000 dogs. (That’s compared with more than 1,400 annothing that can compare to our best national specialties for nual AKC all-breed shows, most of which have anything from the simple reason that you can’t create that kind of excitea couple of hundred dogs to a couple of thousand.) ment when there’s always another show with a huge entry Unimaginable? I can see how the mind boggles trying to and basically the same participants next week. visualize such a scenario, but the fact is that it pretty closely Some American dog show fanciers might find it frustratmirrors the real-life situation in Great Britain. Some of the ing that there are “only” a limited number of championship figures are admittedly uncertain: The Kennel Club in the shows to choose from and really noUK registered about 220,000 dogs last where to “get away from the competiyear, while AKC has not released any figures for years after a drastic dropThe natural conditions tion.” There are of course specialties and Group shows in addition to the alloff that may quite possibly mean that for a thriving dog breed events, but even the most heavAKC now registers fewer dogs than sport aren’t nearly ily campaigned British dogs probably they do in Great Britain. Who knows? I don’t compete more than 50 times in a understand that this year the drain has as favorable in the year — about half or a third as often as stopped, but as long as AKC persists US as they are in our top US dogs. You don’t have to stay in not making the figures public, your Great Britain. home and be bored for lack of shows, guess is as good as mine. though: In addition to the championWhat is certain is that there are just a ship shows, there are more than 500 few shows where you can compete for “open” shows per year. They don’t offer any opportunity to championship points, that these shows are much bigger than make up champions but still attract anything from just a hunours, and that everything takes place within a much smaller dred to a couple of thousand dogs each. Would an American area than here. In most cases, we in the US have to drive long exhibitor go to a show “just for fun,” without the chance of distances to small shows with little or no competition at the winning “points” or CCs? I wonder… breed level to be judged by an all-rounder with little or no perI’m mentioning all this for the simple reason that, as they sonal experience in our breed. In the UK there are well over 100 say, “geography is destiny.” When you have a moderately dogs of my breed at most of the big shows, sometimes 200 or sized and densely populated country with a deep and longeven 300 (Crufts had almost 400). And most of the judges are established fondness for dogs, that country will eventually breed specialists; if we have one breeder-judge for every 20 allbecome very strong in dogs. The natural advantages are one rounders, the figures are pretty much reversed in Great Britain. reason that Great Britain has been in the forefront of pureNot everything would please American exhibitors, of bred dogs so long. That the US often matched, and sometimes course. Would most of us be able to accept the high obstasurpassed, the lead that Great Britain traditionally has had in cles to make up — never “finish”! — a champion over there? producing the world’s top purebred dogs is a testament to the There is no champion class, so to win a Challenge Certificate talent of the best American breeders. It’s just as well to accept, (three of which make a dog a champion), an up-and-coming however, that the natural conditions for a thriving dog sport youngster must defeat the established champions. Famous aren’t nearly as favorable in the US as they are in Great Britain. dogs can go on to collect dozens of CCs (I believe the all-time record is more than 100), meanwhile preventing all others of I had ample opportunities to experience all this during the same breed and sex from becoming champions. a trip to England this summer. Read more about my trip The more casual attitude toward handling and presentato Stafford to judge at the Houndshow 2016 on page 56. tion might be a relief for many American exhibitors but