Dogs go global
It was not so very long ago that each country tended to look at its own dogs in isolation and Britain, despite the few brave souls who imported and exported dogs, was no exception. We in the UK watched enviously as we saw the development of dog showing throughout Europe while we were
confined by our restrictive Quarantine laws but since they were gradually lifted in the 1990s we have been able to participate and we have been able to take part in an explosion of activity which has seen the world of dogs becoming truly global.
In the vanguard has been Eukanuba, the worldwide premium dog food company, who quickly realised that this was an immense opportunity and announced the launch of the Eukanuba World Challenge three years ago. Working in co-operation with the FCI, the AKC and national Kennel Clubs from around the world, they have created an exciting competition for breeders, owners, handlers and their dogs which had given new impetus to the increasingly international canine community. This extraordinary worldwide initiative provides not just a great and unique competition but signposts the way forward for increasing cooperation between both individual breeders and exhibitors and Kennel Clubs which, given the pressure all are under from the extremists is becoming essential.
The national Kennel Clubs from each participating country are responsible for the selection process and this is not usually the Best in Show at the country’s main show for these days this is often a dog from another country (which, of course further establishes the global credentials of the world of dogs today). Crufts is therefore not a suitable show and is, in any case, at the wrong time for the year as the finals are held in California in December. So in some cases (as in the UK in 2007 and 2008), an independent selection is made of the country’s ‘top dog’ according to published rules.
However, greatly to the benefit of UK exhibitors, Eukanuba have this year taken on the mantle of the Champions Stakes competition with the assistance and participation of Britain’s Championship shows. It is the winner of this prestigious event, to be held at the end of October, who is invited to the grand final .
With all expenses paid and immense cash prizes the competition has attracted enormous interest from the countries participating (fifty-two in 2008). In just three short years Eukanuba's great competition has gone from strength to strength. Long may it continue to demonstrate that is really is a small dog world.
Since the start of the competition, various adjustments have been made along the way and for 2009 another development sees ALL of the top winning dogs going into the same draw for the finals. This differs from 2008 when there were categories for Asia, Europe and the USA. So the draw for the 2009 finals will be made at the European show in Dublin in May this year.
What of the future? Could the venue of the Eukanuba World Challenge begin to tour the world, as does the Olympics and the World Cup? How fantastic it could be if kennel clubs bid for the right to hold it. That would give the anti-pedigree lobby something to think about.