Charmin’ the World
Stockholm When It Sizzles
It was advertised as “the biggest dog event ever,” and with 35,464 entries the World Show weekend in Stockholm was probably just that. The British pointed out that Crufts is even bigger than the World Show, whose 20,674 entries in the conformation classes falls a couple of thousand dogs short of the British record, but the so-called “circuit shows” — specialty events held elsewhere in Stockholm for most breeds on alternate days the same weekend — attracted an additional 14,790 entries. Regardless of how you count, it’s safe to say that the World Show 2008 provided a mind-boggling weekend for any dog fancier.
Here are a few more figures from the July 3-6 show. There were 342 breeds from 60 different countries. The 288 judges from 33 countries were assisted by 390 ring stewards and close to 350 other staff. There were 130 trade stands, about 200 members of the press, more than 50,000 paying spectators, and the 34,000 show catalogs added up to an estimated total of 48 million pages. (That last figure could be cut considerably if the Europeans weren’t so title-crazy: it’s never just “Champion” over there but often a long line of heavily abbreviated, usually incomprehensible alphabet soup indicating not just champion titles but even individual wins — “Junior Winner Slovenia ‘04” and the like.)
I have to admit to some advance apprehension. As an ex-Swede now living in America for many years, I was wondering whether it would be at all possible for a small country which had never hosted a show even half as big as this one to get through the ordeal without falling flat on its face. This was the first time that the Swedish Kennel Club hosted the World Show, and although it’s cold and dark for most of the year, even Sweden can get hot in July. Would the thousands of dogs flying in be OK? Would there be enough parking? Would my American friends complain about the inevitably chaotic conditions at a show where exhibitors could seemingly set up their crates and grooming tables wherever they wanted, even next to the rings? Would we be shocked by the often casual handling and the sometimes more-than-casual dress of the handlers? Would we be turned off by the now-ubiquitous long tails and drop ears in the dock-and-crop breeds? Would the (to us) peculiar rules that the FCI imposes on the World Show be understandable to the judges, not to mention the exhibitors?
I’m happy to report that the show turned into what was generally acknowledged as a great success, and that every long-distance visitor I talked to seemed pleased with the experience. Most, in fact, appreciated the most important aspect of the show: that this was a real hobby event, something people came to because they wanted to enjoy a day out with their dogs. There are no professional handlers in Sweden, yet in my opinion it seemed that the handling had improved considerably over the past few years. Hardcore professionals, no; casual, pleasant handlers who let their dogs show themselves, yes.
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