Editorial: July 8, 2022
Is there a person behind the curtain pulling strings on the board of directors? Because it seems that every time the board minutes are published, the directors make suggestions and vote on rule changes that are part of the Great American Kennel Club Give-Away. Their first radical change was to copy the equine world by creating Grand Champions. Then, to keep the gifts flowing, we had Grand Champion “levels of achievement” denoted by metal color (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). And if that wasn’t enough, there were numerical levels within the metal designations (i.e. Gold 2). The creation of that Grand Champion title brought out champions of record that swelled the Best of Breed classes. Satisfied to stay in the sport exhibiting their older dogs, these exhibitors consequently either didn't breed new litters or didn’t purchase younger dogs to exhibit, and that killed the class entries at dog shows. So instead of realizing the consequences of their decision, the board introduced – not necessarily in chronological order – majors for reserve winners at national specialties, and making one point available when there are single entries in both class dogs and bitches. Now we are being spoon-fed points if a class dog places second, third or fourth in a variety group. Why would you give points to a class dog when in some groups there aren’t even four dogs to place? Or if the fourth dog that places (because there are only four dogs competing in the group) is a class dog and the judge doesn't feel that the dog deserves the points, what are his or her options? Then there are the Owner Handled groups, which flew in the face of the one aspect that has always kept our sport so unique among all others: that professionals and amateurs compete on the same level. And while they still do, we had to create something for the amateur exhibitor, as no professional handlers who own their own dogs are eligible to compete in the National Owner-Handled Series. If in fact, if the AKC is trying to keep novices interested, why not limit Owner Handled competitions to exhibitors who have never won a group? The top winners in the Owner Handled groups are successful in the regular group judging, so who is benefitting?
While the majority of exhibitors express their concern that there are too many dog shows, and that the number and amount of four- and five-day strings of shows produces low entries, the American Kennel Club just puts a Band-Aid on the problem and gives out lollipops instead of dealing with those very real and pressing concerns. Professional handers are no different than every other exhibitor – they would like to spend more time at home. Have shorter dog-show weekends and carry more dogs, and the owner-handlers would feel more comfortable in exhibiting at a cluster of shows that start on a Friday or Saturday instead of coming in on the tail end of a cluster. We know there are no easy answers to these ever-growing problems. But we don’t need the Wizard of Oz.