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Issue: 25/01/2019

How depressing!

I was very saddened to read all three of the letters printed in your issue of January, 18th.
Your first correspondent advocates introducing another K.C. rule to prevent committee members from exhibiting under each other. This "would be fair", she suggests, given that committee members are the ones who elect the judges in many cases.
The second writer bemoans those Ch. Show societies which do not keep at least one ring available so that numerically smaller entries can be judged quicker and exhibitors do not have to wait about all day.
The third letter-writer considers that the "current system is a joke" with the winners frequently and accurately predicted in advance of the judging. A Champions class is needed so that "they can potentially move over and let others have a chance".
Oh dear! How depressing! Why on earth are we all still involved in a pastime which appears to be so flawed, so inconsiderately organised, so unfair and, by implication, so inherently dishonest and maybe even corrupt?
Your first writer seems to be inferring that at least a number of judges enter the ring with an innate bias towards committee members with whom they serve. Personally, there are times when I wish that winning was that easy! I shall resist the temptation to go in to detail about the committee processes and compromises which result in a final list of possible names emerging as potential judges. I shall further refrain from banging on about the many clubs who then present this list to their members in a ballot. Instead, I would ask for clear, tangible, demonstrable proof, as opposed to subjective ringside conjecture, surmise and supposition that awards are made to fellow committee members purely because of their position.
I would ask the second contributor to tell me which Ch society committee she serves on and to share with the rest of us how that society manages to allocate extra rings to "minority" breeds while still ensuring that the show proceeds in good time. Not to mention the juggling act of all CC breeds being judged first as required by the KC and not having judges who are officiating in two or even more breeds (a financial imperative for many societies) hurtling all over the showground to another ring. Oh.and leaving some emergency slack to move a CC breed scheduled second because the first breed has an unpredictably slow judge who refuses to be hurried.
I feel some sympathy for your third writer. Only some! After just three years showing what appears to have been only two dogs in two separate Groups, he or she is now able to assert that "the same dogs and bitches win everything all the time" and the current top winner is "guaranteed to win at every show" "Guaranteed"?? Must be a good 'un, indeed!
It can be very hard in the early stages of showing to find yourself in a breed with several established and experienced breeders who have learned their trade over many years and who nearly always feature in the cards. Harder still to encounter a high flyer on form and with an owner chasing records. It happens. Don't give up! You would not be the first exhibitor who had a lean time of it to start with but who learned, looked closely at the winners and even more closely at their own pride and joy, improved and ended up with a top dog themselves.
I may have led a charmed life in almost sixty years in dogs (and/or be astonishingly nave!) but I have virtually NEVER seen predictions, even those which are understandable, intelligent guesses based on a judge's previous preferences or a dog currently at its peak, actually come to pass on the day. 
Often, the one tipped for the top has not even been entered. I have seen a fair few judges whose knowledge may not have been sufficient to the task. Judges who appear confused by large classes, judges who give the impression they are playing safe and share the awards around and once, a vindictive judge who pulled the same exhibitor out first in every class and then pointedly moved her steadily down the line.
Do I have real, hard evidence of dishonest judges who always give it to their pals or fellow committee members regardless, or judges who hand CCs to mates or influential exhibitors in anticipation of the favour being reciprocated or a judging invitation being offered? Can't think that I have.
Let's stop sniping at our sport and providing grist for our detractors' mills. Let's stop poisoning newcomers' minds. Judging dogs is largely a subjective business practised by individuals with differing priorities and their own personal interpretations of the breed standard. Let's not assume that it is inherently crooked and that the only honest and fair judges (I can only presume!), are the ones who hand US the red rosettes. To do otherwise will see us all the ultimate losers.
Yours etc 
Ian Millar

Facing up to the faces

Your 'Uncomfortable Choices' opinion on 7th Dec exposes, in my opinion,  a deep fault line in the Championship Show circus that many share but dare not speak up about for fear of retribution. Or in the words of the classic song,  is it right for my beloved "Albert" to keep getting eaten by the Lions?"
Within my  breed, and I am sure it is not the only one, knowing who is the judge is most entrants' first consideration and the main reason for low entries (you know who is likely to win without turning up). It is certainly the biggest talking point at ringside.
There are some surprises but the number of times you see one affix judge rewarding another affix  judge with a reciprocal near sweep the board is pretty easy to spot, if one is prepared to look!
Sadly, it is for that reason that we shall not be entering our dog called Albert at Crufts. 
Also, there really ought to be a different and separate 'Champions' (premier league) class for multiple champions of say five CC's. There the 'faces' can battle it out on equal terms.  Why a 25+ champion still needs more just stops others from entering.
The Kennel Club and show organisers (mainly judges protecting the status quo) need a dose of reality on this malaise that could be the death knell of the Championship Show.
Yours etc
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