Good Things and No to 10 Groups
Every year when we finish the Owner-Handler Feature I feel warm and fuzzy about the future of the sport of showing dogs. This year I didn’t so much expect to feel that way, what with the economy lagging, entries down at most shows and the continual worrisome message that we need to do something, to make AKC more viable again and to encourage more participation in the sport.
But I can’t help but be hopeful after reading the article that begins on page 148, where we talked with five successful owner-handlers. They prove that at least in some ways the sport is on solid ground. And though we’ve lost some important people in the sport the past few months, throughout this issue I think you’ll find that we have much to be grateful for. There are so many smart, dedicated people involved in this sport.
So along with the Owner-Handler Feature, our annual Canadian Feature -- which this year is better than ever -- the mini-profile on a fascinating “new” breed, the Norwegian Lundehund, and lots of other great reading from our contributors, this issue brings a lot to learn and to think about.
Now…the subject that occupies the majority of our time these days is what changes need to be made to make the sport healthier/richer/more appealing. In that vein I invite you to read some of the facts and figures in Bo Bengtson’s “At Large” – we want you to understand that we don’t make this stuff up – and also to consider a few revelations I’ve had in “A Sport of Exclusion,” starting on page 112. We don’t want to be negative... what we want is to bring DR readers the facts, to make them think, and to do everything we can to protect and preserve the sport we love.
I also determined that recording my position on AKC’s proposed Group Realignment is better late than never, so here I go. In regard to this proposal, I have alternated between believing that more important topics affecting the sport warrant our attention before this one, and having an impression that because certain “higher-ups” at AKC are insistent on the change, it’s more or less a done deal. But since it’s not over till it’s over, here is my opinion on the matter. At the May Board meeting, staff reported that changing from the current seven Variety Groups to 10 would cost approximately $65,000, in the form of additional man hours by AKC staff prior to implementing the 10 Groups. Although that may seem like a small expenditure in today’s corporate world, why take on an expenditure of this kind at a time when we are continually reminded that AKC needs more income and has not yet figured out how to increase revenue? Then add these observations:
• Changing from seven to 10 Groups will not produce any additional revenue for AKC;
• At many shows, by splitting the Sporting and Hound Groups, judges will potentially be left with just a handful of Group dogs to judge, because many of the breeds in those Groups are quite rare. One “new” half of the Sporting Group will have nine breeds in the Group if there is one of every breed present, including the Boykin, Field, Sussex, Welsh Springer, Irish Water and American Water Spaniels! We can all figure out that this Group would more often have three or four dogs than nine competing. And yet…
• By changing from seven Groups to 10, although the same number of dogs will be judged it will take almost half-again as long to judge the Groups, as time must be added for getting dogs into the Group ring three more times, making 12 additional placements and marking the judges’ books three more times, handing out ribbons and trophies three more times and then getting those dogs back out of the ring... three more times. Do days at the dog show need to be longer?
Now is not the time to be making this unnecessary change. Let’s focus on something important instead.
If you have an opinion on this issue that you have not yet expressed to AKC, I encourage you to do so. Enjoy this issue!
Christi McDonald, Editor
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