Bo Bengtson At Large | 'Tis The Season To Be Jolly
’Tis the season to be jolly, the time of year when we count our blessings and look forward to what the new year will bring, so let’s be really positive and focus exclusively on the bright side of things this month for a change. We do have a lot to be grateful for...
* The recession isn’t over, not by a long shot, but the people who supposedly know about these things assure us it’s getting better. What’s more, it looks as if in many ways the dog sport has survived the economic meltdown much better than one might have expected. Sure, everything is a little “off,” but it’s clear that dogs — and dogs shows, and all the things that go with them — are too important to too many people to be sacrificed.
This has been a worldwide phenomenon: it’s clear that dog fanciers everywhere have similar priorities.
* We have a national kennel club that, when all is said and done, is involved in a truly amazing array of efforts to make this a better country for dogs and dog owners. We all love to complain about the AKC, and often there’s good reason for that, but the fact is that the AKC involvement in so many different aspects of the dog’s place in society today is a huge improvement from the past. I know there are people who miss the days when AKC was involved only in the competitive aspects of the sport of purebred dogs, but the fact is that if AKC didn’t act as “the dogs’ champion” — ALL dogs’ champion! — we would most likely be much worse off than we are.
Sure, there’s a lot to be done, primarily in convincing the public that AKC is where all puppies should be registered and by introducing serious health requirements for purebred dogs. However, while we look enviously at the more advanced programs organized by kennel clubs in other countries, we must remember that turning a huge, unwieldy ship like the AKC in any new direction takes much more time than doing the same in a smaller club... and AKC is still by far the largest kennel club in the world.
* There are much bigger dog shows in other countries than those we have in the U.S., but there can’t be much doubt that ours are in many respects the best: clean, professionally organized, run on a precise timetable, with judges who are on average (regardless of what anyone may say) at least as good as any others, and who usually follow a ring procedure that’s more consistent and comprehensible than most. And we do have, by general consensus, better handlers, more professional exhibitors, and fewer signs of bad sportsmanship at our shows than anywhere. The smile may be a little tight, the “Congratulations!” sometimes a little forced... but it’s there, and that’s important.
* We now have at least one established world-class dog show in addition to Westminster. As you can see in the sidebar, the AKC/Eukanuba show in Long Beach, Calif., this year attracted an entry of 3,920 dogs — a big figure by any standards and the biggest for many years in the U.S. Personally I would have expected even more dogs: many thought the entry fees were too high ($50 for class dogs, $75 for specials only), but that’s routine in Europe and doesn’t seem to affect their entries. Of course, the early closing time and the absence of a printed premium list probably didn’t help.
Still, when AKC invites us to such a party it’s hard not to respond. By the time you read this we’ll know how it all turned out.
Happy New Year! May your puppies prosper and all your ribbons be blue (or purple, or multi-colored...).
The American Kennel Club celebrates its 125th anniversary with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show in Long Beach, Calif., Dec. 12-13. For the first time at this show, the entry was open to all AKC registerable dogs, resulting in a total of 3,920 exhibits entered in the conformation judging (including 47 in the Miscellaneous classes). More than 130 of the 161 breeds participating have specialties or supported entries at the show. A total of $235,000 in prize money will be awarded, including special prizes for the best Bred-by-Exhibitor entries.
More than 50 percent of the entry consists of AKC champions (2,050 dogs); this does not include visiting dogs with foreign titles. In addition to being eligible to compete in the regular classes, invited top dogs from 41 countries are entered in the Eukanuba World Challenge.
The 91 conformation judges come from 26 U.S. states, Canada, U.K., Brazil, Puerto Rico, Spain, Germany, Portugal and South Africa.
Biggest breed entries, with number of AKC champions in parenthesis: Golden Retrievers 109 (28), French Bulldogs 80 (38), Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 66 (27), Australian Shepherds 65 (29), Rottweilers 63 (27), Labrador Retrievers 59 (19), Havanese 56 (29), Bulldogs 55 (18), Pomeranians 54 (25), Gordon Setters 53 (20), Basset Hounds 50 (31), Rhodesian Ridgebacks 50 (28), and Samoyeds 50 (36).
Other breeds with at least 20 AKC champions entered: Vizslas, Beagles, Longhaired Dachshunds, Wirehaired Dachshunds, Whippets, Bullmastiffs, Mastiffs, Portuguese Water Dogs, Border Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Chinese Cresteds and Boston Terriers.
The AKC/Eukanuba National Championship is held in conjunction with the AKC National Obedience Invitational and AKC Agility Invitational.
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