Are Dog Shows Still a Sport?
At the beginning of my life in the sport of dogs, I saw lots of good things. But life has changed in our sport from what I can see, and that is disturbing.
I have heard that you cannot judge the present from the past. Why not? The past is what has happened and the present is what is happening now, and I have seen them both in our sport. Years ago, in a place and time when people were wearing long hair and smoking a lot of pot, there was me in 1966 … not doing pot and not having long hair but getting into our sport of dogs. I was welcomed with open arms and given a hardy welcome and a smile. I had my partner, Jack Heidinger, to lead me into the paths of this sport. He was followed also by wonderful exhibitors and breeders who taught me about dogs and how to breed good ones and, by the way, to look at pedigrees. I am sure this still happens to some degree. I hope so.
I worked as a superintendent with Jack Bradshaw Dog Shows on the weekends and saw all the goings-on at the shows. Sure, there were some people who would complain about where their breed was scheduled, and the time and order of the groups, but to no great deal in my opinion. You would see many people even staying for Best in Show. I cannot remember a lot of show-event committees being called for very many things. Not to the degree that it is today! In the current issue of the AKC Secretary’s Pages (May 2022), there are seven notices regarding “So’N So” being charged with inappropriate, abusive or foul language behavior and some directed toward a judge. I saw one person listed who had been in this part of the Secretary’s Page before. One person was charged for disruption at an event, inappropriate, abusive or foul language, and disruptive behavior at an event.
I was looking at some of the old American Kennel Club Gazettes from January 1945, and here is what is listed for Report of Bench Show Committee:
Fine- Mrs. Bishop O. Butler, Route #1, Box 210-A Saratoga, Calif. Has been fined $10.00 for removing her Pekingese, Ch. Pekeland’s Ping Tzu” which was placed Best of Breed and first in the Toy Group, before the judging of Best in Show, at Pasadena Kennel Club show held on October 29, 1944-Violation of Section 14 of Chapter 7 of the rules.
The action of the Bench Show Committee of Minneapolis Kennel Club has been upheld and Mrs. Sybil D. Kirkland, of Milwaukee, Wis., has been deprived of all privileges of the American Kennel Club for a period of 90 days from November 14, 1944 for conduct prejudicial to the best interests of dog shows.
Another one was: Roy R. Taylor, of Royal Oak, Mich. Was fined $10.00 for removing his Doberman Pinscher from Detroit Kennel Club show on the first day and not returning in the second day show held February 28 and 29, 1948.
I went through many of the Gazettes and saw where there were no fines for conduct, etc. What a difference decades have made.
If you notice in the “Dealing with Misconduct at AKC Events,” you will see on page 4, Section IV, “Conduct Prejudicial to the Sport”: “One test in connection with any kind of scene or altercation occurring during an event is whether a family attending an event for the first time would be likely to decide, after witnessing the incident, that the sport is not for them.” That is very important!
Another thing is judges: “Judges are advised to report to the Event Committee any abusive language directed to them or any refusal to follow their instructions, as well as any improper suggestions or request they might receive to favor a particular dog. Such reports are required not so much for the protection of the individual judge, as to protect the integrity of the sport.” So, judges, please do what you are supposed to do!
(A little off the subject, I noticed something very interesting: JUDGES’ LICENSES GRANTED: All Toy Breeds in Group 5 and All Non-Sporting Breeds in Group 6. Schwartz, Charles A., Gladwyne, PA. This was in the July 1943 Gazette. Could that be a beginning of what may be happening soon for judges’ approval?)
Speaking of judges: “You must be fearless and honest. There is no halfway spot, and unless you can put your dearest friend’s dog down, you have no right to put up another. You must at all times judge the dog and have the courage of your convictions backed by knowledge.” – Natalie Willits Lewis
I hope you do not think I am crazy, but I was judging at a national and I did not see nor was introduced to anyone in the club! There was no lunch provided. No show chairperson came up to me and introduced themselves. Maybe they were showing in the classes and ignored me, but I do believe it was strange.
In conclusion, I want you to know that there are lots of great people in our sport, and those who get into trouble maybe should think about getting into another. It would be for the best interest of our sport and for them. There are still lots of things going on in our sport, and hopefully we will continue to be a family. I still believe in great people and a wonderful family in the sport of dogs.