My First Rant of 2021
Since it appears that we are slowly but steadily returning to a somewhat regular schedule of shows being held, I think it is past time for my first "rant" of 2021. First I want to congratulate all the clubs – and their workers – for the herculean effort they put forth to hold safe shows during this terrible time. For some people, shows are a source of income. For some, they are an outlet for their ego. For me, they are an important part of my life. Thank you all.
However, I caution and urge all of you to not let your guard down. Yes, we have shown that our shows can be held with a degree of safety, and that is a good thing. But it is not over! At some recent shows it was obvious that people are acting as if everything is back to normal. It is not! While the use of masks was still being adhered to, social distancing was very much ignored.
There has recently been a major upsurge of the virus again in Michigan, causing that governor to state, "There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but a recent rise in infections is a reminder that this is how the virus works. The second we let our guard down, it comes roaring back."
C'mon, people, let's not slide back and allow this terrible virus another foothold. Each and every one of you is part of our dog family, and I want all of you to stay healthy.
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Who in the hell at AKC thought this ridiculous show – “Pooch Perfect” – was a good idea? I could not believe that I got an email from AKC that seemed to be a supporter of this so-called "grooming competition." I have to admit that 15 to 20 minutes plus of the "coming attractions" were all that I could handle. I would not waste another second watching that crap.
Apparently the weirder you are, the better chance you have to be a competitor on that show. The "groomer teams" on this show seem to make everything that is affiliated with purebred dogs be ridiculous and farcical. I would hope that AKC doesn't think that our professional groomers are as ridiculous as these people and this show. If there are people at AKC who think this show represents us – and why else would they have sent an email advising people to watch it? – it is time for them to find another job. Not only are the dogs groomed to look ridiculous, but to allow dogs to be dyed could be unsafe for the dog – and couldn't something like this cause some people to try it themselves with dyes that are too strong and unhealthy for dogs? If this is what our dog shows are heading toward, I want out now. If AKC truly believes this show is in the best interest of dogs, we are drastically far apart in our ideas. I wonder if there is a money trail somewhere.
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I realize that there are varied reasons for someone to show a dog, including that it is a source of income for the professional. I also understand that some handlers will show a dog that they know is not competitive. I can ALMOST accept that. But if you are showing a dog that obviously hates the ring – and it is apparent that you truly dislike this dog – do yourself, the owners, and – most importantly – the dog a favor and send the dog home. No dog deserves to be beat on just to try to get him to show. Besides, it is not going to work.
There is an expression in horse racing: "Horses for courses." I think the same holds true for our dogs. Some dogs – even some breeds – do better with a female handler and some with a male handler. Some can take pressure, and some cannot. Some can handle a firm hand, but most respond better to a slow-moving, caring, steady hand. It is simply unfair to any dog to try to get him to show by using force. No dog deserves this for a piece of cloth.
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Here is an important tip for the newer exhibitor: If your dog wins something, check that the judge's book has been marked properly. Every show superintendent has "tear sheets" from every judge's book posted somewhere near their table. Sometimes a judge will simply write the wrong number in error, or the number is illegible. If a mistake has been made, it is much easier to get it corrected while you, your dog and the judge are still at the show. Some superintendents are even posting "day of show live results" on their website, so at least check this on your phone before you leave the show.
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There are many people in society who believe that there is something very important missing from our educational system. Computers and technology have resulted in a culture that is barely able to write – much less use correct English. Many feel that a graduate should know how to apply for a job, handle a checking account, and prepare for retirement. For the most part, none of this is taught in our school systems.
A similar lack of fundamentals occurs in the education of our judges. Obviously those who have received AKC approval for their first breed or two have managed to navigate the judges' education process. But I have received a few calls from new judges who say something like, "I have just been asked to judge my first show. What do I do now?" I have been told that questions about how to charge judging fees will not be answered at the AKC Judges Institute. I can appreciate that AKC does not want to be accused of price-fixing, etc., but some advice is needed by these new judges.
I think there should be a few senior judges who can be contacted by new judges to answer questions about fees, per dog charging, etc. These judges can also assist in advice about packing, choosing airlines, scheduling and ring procedure. Most first-time judges start out with one breed (except for AKC employees). Therefore many first assignments are specialty shows. It is possible, therefore, that there could be some large classes. It takes experience to know how to work your way through large entries. Advice on procedure from senior judges could certainly help make the first assignment for a new judge less stressful.
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Like many other Best in Show judges, I often will have some comments to make to or about the final seven dogs in front of me. Usually it is the same basic comment. But with masks and no spectators, these comments become mute. So for the Best in Show assignments that I have in the foreseeable future, I thank the breed and group judges who have sent these dogs forward. I thank the owners of these dogs for the care and love they give to them. Most of all, I thank the breeders without whom our dog community would not exist. You are all to be congratulated. I thank you all.
What do you think?