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(Updated 3/7/01)

Showstoppers

by John Beacock

Two things have dominated the papers recently; the repatriation to Britain, of a train robber and a general election. The story of Ronnie Biggs who was part of a gang that helped themselves to money that belonged to someone else, chimes rather well with another gang who are trying to do something similar - legally!
Over the weeks that these stories are digested (or indigested) look set to wring the very withers of us all. Escape is doubtful, even for us doggy folk who share many parallels with today’s headlines - even a remarkable escape from Brazil by a dog called Fleas.

German Formula 1 motor racing star - Michael Schumacher - is no stranger to Sao Paulo; Brazil’s racing circuit. He arrives every year, complete with his motor home and to cater for his every whim, the entire Ferrari team. Thousands of adoring fans turn up too to cheer him on his way. Two or three years ago, one fan was already there - a small dog - who, like so many others in South America, was homeless and looking for his next meal. This one however, got really lucky and attached himself to the speed king; following him everywhere. When it came time to pack up and leave, ‘Fleas’ would not take the hint and drift off into the sunset. Michael too had become quite fond of him and could not bear to his new friend go, so he decided that adoption was the only course.

After a dip into the tub to remove all unwanted ‘passengers’ and a course of injections, he was given an air ticket to the Schumacher home in Europe, where he remains today; the family pet. A story with a happy ending and one that shows a man who once run our own Damon Hill off the track in Australia has a soft spot for a little dog who won his heart.

If good can come from the dusty streets of a far-off land then can we see anything good in an election? If the answer is obvious, then I, for one, cannot see it. When Prime Minister Mr Callaghan faced an election he referred to one party as ‘turkeys voting for an early Christmas’; we know what he means and we know that life, for us, is unlikely to change whoever wins.

Change

In dogdom however, things do change at elections; committees are rearranged and the Kennel Club spends many hours voting on our future. One thing however rarely changes. The list of the ‘elite’ societies that have championship status; a sort of Premiership League that enjoys their own spot in the calendar every year. While this may be good for the show concerned, I often wonder if any of our ‘First Division’ societies would ever like a shot at changing from Open to Championship events.

From where I stand, it looks very much like a closed shop where ejection of a club is so rare that few ever consider it; I believe the last to be ‘relegated’ was Leicester in 1993. Furthermore, to my knowledge, no club has been admitted to take its place. Doubtless the Kennel Club has got the situation firmly under control and I may be wrong in my assumption that some clubs would like promotion but instead feel ‘frozen out’. And what if this is true? How can they penetrate the apparent permafrost that lies below the very foundations of Clarges Street?

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I think that our current shows do a fantastic job. They are run by dedicated and hard working committees who are always on the look out for that little touch to make their show the best. I do recall once a secretary telling me that a championship show entry was actually addressed, and delivered, to the showground! The entry was within the time limit but, with many weeks to go before the show itself, the field was empty. This did not deter the intrepid postman who simply attached the envelope to the gate before pushing his bicycle on to the next stop. Two weeks later, after gales, driving rain and sleet the crumpled envelope was spotted by someone who peered inside and managed to contact the secretary who promptly processed the entry and the dog was duly entered! Such is the trouble that is taken and we know too that our shows are often the benchmark for others around the world; but what can be wrong in a procedure that allows a door to be opened for others who might like to have a go themselves?