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The future of dogdom

Timing is of the essence

suggests Roy Jones

Over the past few months many people have expressed their views on the decline of Open Shows, whether it is the cost of entries, the venues’ amenities, non-breed judges etc, etc. But I feel a large part of the problem is timings.

If you go to a football match you know the exact kick off time, you go to the theatre and you know what time the curtain raises, the cinema - the time the film starts and also at what time the event is going to finish. This lets you make travel arrangements, what time to leave and what time you will be home, so days out can be planned.

Championship shows tell you what time most breeds are due to start and also publish the entry for each breed, from this you can work out what time you need to arrive and how long you are likely to be there.

Some Open Shows publish a proposed order of judging in the schedule; some shows only state the first breeds in each ring, so the only way to try and find the time your breed is to be judged is to ring the secretary a few days before the show to get entry numbers etc. to work out what time to arrive, but I find you are lucky if you can get past answerphones and if the secretary will even give you the information you require.

I truly feel that all Open Shows should state, and publish in the schedule, the exact time each breed is going to be judged and also what time groups and the best in show will begin, not an estimate but the actual time.

I can already hear secretaries saying this would be completely impossible as entry numbers are not known when the schedule is printed, but why?. All societies should know from experience of each breed and from each judge what entry is expected for their show.

From this information the society could then work out for each breed the maximum number of dogs that breed would be allocated and a standard time be agreed on how long it should take to judge any given number of dogs, say two minutes per dog, taking into account second entries, class changeovers, absentees and Best of Breed; so let’s say Golden Retrievers are permitted 60 dogs so two hours would be allocated for this breed, so if judging begins at 10.00 hours it will be finished by NO later that 12:00 hours, to allow this to work any entries over the 60 dogs would then have to be returned to exhibitors on a first come, first accepted basis.

This system would then be applied to each breed in that show, so all judging times could be worked out and would be stated in the schedule, also allocated entries for each breed could be included, which hopefully would create interest.

I feel Groups followed by Puppy Groups should start no later than 14:00 hours so giving a Best in Show time of 15:00 hours, these times should be standard for all Open Shows. All variety and stakes classes to be judged by the BIS judge after he/she has judged BIS and Best Puppy in show. A.V.N.S.C. classes where no limit on entries should be set, to be the only breed classes the BIS judge could also judge, so stopping certain judges accumulating breed classes of which they show no interest in, apart from the awarding of CCs.

A system along these lines would bring many benefits to the exhibitor, judges and the society running the show.

Firstly, the exhibitor would know exactly what time their breed judging would start and finish and the times of Groups and Best in Show before entering the show; this would allow travel time and distance to be taken into account, so a day out could be planned with a lot less wasted time and endless waiting about. Secondly, using this system would make societies far more professional in their show management, and give exhibitors breed judges for all breed classes to try to attract the full number of allocated dogs and not lump minor breeds to other non-breed judges. It would set a time standard on judges right from the start of their careers, so slow indecisive judges would soon fall by the wayside as societies would not offer them appointments.

For judges, having a maximum allocated number of dogs would give them an idea what the society expects the entry to be, before accepting the appointment. How many people have travelled 100s of miles for an entry of five dogs with three absentees as there was a breed club show on the same day. It would also make societies work a lot harder to attract entries for all breeds and not expect some of the large breeds to carry the smaller breeds. Also, as said previously, more breed judges should receive more appointments with far better entries.

For societies better use of venues would be an advantage, as they would know the maximum number of dogs expected when planning a show, so smaller cheaper venues could be used, also with stated judging time the morning crush would be relieved.

The Kennel Club could even increase the number of dogs that could use a venue as fixed staggered start times would reduce the number of dogs at a venue at any one time, as many exhibitors sadly nowadays only have an interest in their own breed.

On the downside for societies, having a maximum number of dogs for each breed would cap any expected profits for that show, but making the choice of judges far more important so the required entry was achieved.

The returning of entries of over subscribed breeds may hurt societies at the start, but in the end, when societies get their figures, timing and judges correct, it could actually stimulate exhibitor demand for open shows.

Show societies have to face the fact that modern exhibitors do not want to wait around all day at open shows, they want to know accurate starting times for breed judging, groups and Best in Show.

If all other sporting and leisure events can offer this, surely all breed open shows must find a way to do so?