(This article, written by Anne Katona, was first published in the AKC Gazette breed column in May, 2003. We are grateful to the author and to the AKC for their permission to publish all the Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Columns on the USKBTC website.)
AKC Gazette Breed Column
Dog Show Structure Change?
The Central Florida Kerry Blue Terrier Club held their first specialty show on January 11, in conjunction with Inverness Florida Kennel Club in Brooksville. Breeder-Judge, Dr. Ralph Reilly had an entry of 50 Kerries from which to select the club’s first Best Of Breed winner. Dr. Reilly had particularly gentle hands for all the exhibits. He smiled a lot, and genuinely seemed (from outside the ring) to enjoy the assignment. One thing was very evident – Dr. Reilly was consistent to type throughout his decisions. Next year, if a January vacation is an option, head to Florida and support this chapter club specialty. Congratulations to all the Florida club members on a great Specialty. The Central Florida KBT Club members extend true Southern Hospitality.
While in Florida, several dog judges decided to “do” dinner. The conversation revolved around dog shows. (This is not usual regardless of what exhibitors think!) The age old argument of how to improve dog shows became the evening topic. Naturally, hashing over the major problems developed before a consensus could be taken on a “fix.” The statements of the group revealed much concern about the future direction of dog shows. Most felt the important level of the “show” should always be the Breed competition and not the Group or Best In Show level. Do not take us wrong here, the Group and Best In Show level is important, but the genuine “stock judging” is on the Breed level and should be the fundamental purpose of the dog show.
While walking onto the Florida show grounds, the first thing heard from a local handler – “guess who is going Best tonight?” The next question, “Why do you think so?” The answer sounded comparable to being in Washington DC talking with President Bush to improve political correctness!! Is there a way to put some fun back into our sport? Could the playing field be leveled for all to enjoy the possibility of winning? Maybe so!
This dinner group would be keen on considering an experiment with the form of dog show previously proposed to AKC. That is: Allow a club to hire judges as they have in the past. However, no judge would receive any judging assignment beyond the BREED LEVEL. Once the first group is assembled in the group ring, the Superintendent would request the show chairperson or club member (who is not showing that day) to draw a judges name from a “hat” that contained all of the names on the slate eligible to judge that group. Continue to judge all the remaining groups and Best In Show using the same technique. Would dogs be hauled throughout the country as they currently are if there was only a chance of getting “the right judge?” Since top dogs must have big numbers they will continue going to the big shows around the country. However, after they get “there,” the top dogs will have the same odds as each and every dog entered. This might create more winning opportunities for all exhibitors. Has the time arrived for a dog show structure change? What are your thoughts?