Here's the latest from our dog show insider:
It's only a hobby we all say, but we travel hundreds of miles a year, spend a fortune in time and money preparing and showing our dogs. So how far will we go?
Some just enjoy a day talking with friends, no stress and a day out with dogs but to some it's about winning at all costs.
We all know the stories about bad judging or displays of bad sportsmanship and a lot of us have experienced some nasty maneuvers in the show ring.
Dogs are transported, groomed, exercised and promoted via heavy advertising.
Some brave souls even camp in all weathers at various show sites around the country no matter the weather using up all their holidays and driving for hours.
So is this a rewarding hobby any more?
I heard on the grapevine of one breeder who recently allegedly camped on a showground with puppies under one week old and another bitch who whelped on site.
Apparently the resulting puppy losses were large.
All I can say is that is going a step too far. I hope those 'in the know' are making strong protestations to the KC!
The show scene has changed dramatically over the years and it must be very off putting to the new exhibitor. Gone is the friendly atmosphere at a lot of shows. Competition and winning is the name of the game, learning about the breed from the older generation is to some extent a thing of the past as is respect for the judges. Fast track now seems to mean scratching the right backs.
Our hobby is changing and not all for the better lets all work to change it back!
Reading the latest growl from the Growler I am moved to say that I think that the show world hasn't really changed that much in the last 30 years, that what has probably changed is the Growler's perspective.
The more angles you see of the show world structure, the more you see how all the pieces fit together. Successful dog showing at the highest level is a very people-orientated game and those that play it best see it for what it is and enjoy the challenge of mind games. It's a game of strategy and influence.
The problem is that the dog plays quite a minor part in this 'game' and as above with the pups dying on site, nothing can get in the way of attending some shows.
I've known an otherwise lovely person who missed their own daughter's wedding because it clashed with a favourable judge at a championship show! Someone who lost their job by pulling too many sickies to attend midweek shows. And worse, I remember the call I got from the husband divorcing the wife who had bumped off their dog because it hadn't won enough - claiming the money back on the insurance so she could buy a new one. It was when she did this twice with two different insurers that he realised the death's weren't tragic accidents.
The people who forget or simply don't care how special dogs are is why we need a strong logical Kennel Club prepared to protect the dog's best interests in what can become and unhealthily addictive hobby. To stop dogs being viewed as lottery tickets. If dog showing has a point it is for the healthiest most functional dogs to win and mind games really shouldn't be allowed to have a place.
When you first start you think everyone has a chance to win and sometimes a novice does break through who isn't playing the larger game, and there are lots of lovely people at breed level who do love their dogs blissfully unaware. But if you want to become an international judge and win groups and best In shows, chances are you're playing the game on another level, not visible to those paying their entry fees, taking their chance in the ring and going home at the end of the day rather than hanging around in the show hotel etc and networking.