Looking Over the Land Down Under

From Editor's Note, Dogs in Review November, 2011

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Welcome to our International Issue, this year containing a hefty special section on Australia. Thanks to the many who supported this issue so enthusiastically with your ads, your articles and your responses to our questionnaires. The result is a hugely informative feature and an absolutely great read.

It would be difficult for any active exhibitor not to be aware of Australia’s enormous contributions to our sport, through its talented and knowledgeable breeders, handlers (though there are few “official” professional handlers Down Under) and judges. As Editor-at-Large Bo Bengtson observes in his Introduction, the Australians have been supremely successful in combining North American and European bloodlines, then putting their own national stamp on the dogs. In turn, many Australian dogs have been exported here, making their mark in the show ring and in the whelping box.

Having exhibited and/or judged in the US, the Australians we interviewed bring a valuable perspective to the sport. They are unanimous in their appreciation of the Australian system that allows judges to focus on their judging, while stewards tend to such tasks as marking the judge’s book and handing out ribbons. And what American show-giving club wouldn’t envy the Australian tradition of clubs owning their own show grounds rather than scrambling to rent venues that are becoming more expensive and less available each year?

Our respondents give the American shows high marks for their glamour, smooth organization and the sportsmanship of the exhibitors (nice to hear!). While we have superintendents to choreograph our shows, the Australians do it themselves, relying on their own club members. Breeds are judged in alphabetical order but there is no hour-by-hour judging schedule to adhere to.

At a time when the AKC’s approval process for judges is under review, it is instructive to have three Australian judges — Darren Bowey, ex-pat Jamie Hubbard and Debbie Cozart, an American living Down Under — compare the two systems for us. This well-respected trio provides much food for thought.

Finally, when nations the world over have always acknowledged the overwhelming influence of American culture, it’s fascinating to consider how much Australian culture has touched ours. Remember Helen Reddy belting out “I Am Woman” decades ago? Germaine Greer, outspoken author of The Female Eunuch? Brilliant films like Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (the latter turned into a musical now playing on Broadway and in London’s Westend)? Talented directors like Peter Weir? From Geoffrey Rush and Hugh Jackman to Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman, there is significant talent to appreciate.

Even the corny clichés have become icons of pop culture: Crocodile Dundee, Dame Edna and the millions impersonating (badly) Meryl Streep impersonating the distraught mother who claims the dingoes have … well, you know. For more trivia, read Bo Bengtson’s “Facts About Australia” on page 160. Cheers to the dedicated dog people and proud Australians who rose to the occasion and made this issue a keeper! Good on ya!

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