Cash Is King ...
That headline never rang so true than at the busy World Dog Show in Geneva at the end of August, when a Portuguese Water Dog called “Cash” took the major honors at both the Grand Prix show on Wednesday, August 23, and then the World Dog Show the following Sunday night. Aquafortis Robel The One was the PWD that took top spot and certainly must have been on “strong water” to impress FCI president Tamas Jakkel for the Grand Prix BIS and then Laurent Pichard for the WDS win … What a double for Portuguese handler Marta Flores and owner/breeder Runi Aqua Kristiansen from Norway. Ownership passed to Marta earlier in 2023, and she is now campaigning the dog in Portugal.
The ring at Best in Show time. Photo Vince Hogan.
The World Dog Show 2023 was a marathon five-day event that started in searing 100-degree heat outside, leaving judges and exhibitors panting and dogs wearing all sorts of cool coats to keep chilled. Gradually over the five days, the temperatures started to ease, and we even had rain over the weekend as it turned much cooler.
Cash itself was also king in Geneva, as many exhibitors found out; it’s not a cheap place to visit or have a beer or a meal. Some were shocked at Geneva prices!
Prizes and rosettes lined up in the main ring for the Grand Prix show on Wednesday.
The whole event took place at a show center akin to the NEC in Birmingham (Crufts) or any other large exhibition hall. It was ideally situated adjacent to Geneva Airport, with the Hilton Hotel serving as the base for judges, organizers and media people. So, it was a short walk through to the rear entrance of the hall and an entrance for dog people who were allowed to park inside, in the next hall. The event center had also hosted the two-day General Assembly of the FCI, which takes place every two years at the WDS. Decisions made there included electing two new board members, Ilaria Biondi from Peru and Fabio Amarin from Brazil. Mexico won the vote to host the World Dog Show in 2028. Other than that, no news about any other discussions or decisions from the Assembly, which seems to be the norm from this meeting.
Mexico won the vote to host the WDS in 2028. Here is the writer with Mexican Kennel Club President Dr. Jose Luis Payro and Croatian judge Davor Javor.
The show was not organized by the Swiss Kennel Club as such but by the club where Laurent Pichard is president and hold their shows in the same venue. Barbara Muller, a well-known all-round judge from Switzerland, was also heavily involved in the organization with Mr. Pichard and his team, including Sophie Jouannet.
Best in Show judge Laurent Pichard.
“It is a great honor for me to welcome you in Geneva for the World Dog Show 2023,” said Laurent Pichard, noting that the organizing committee was a small, tightly knit group. “Ten years ago, on the same weekend of August we successfully organized a European Dog Show 2013 on the same premises, but what is most important, with the same team of people. I hope you will be able to feel the team spirit that we all invested in it.
“As you can imagine, organizing a World Dog Show is a huge project, and it requires the hard work of many people. The committee itself is not a large group of people, but they are all trustworthy and very passionate and in my opinion that is the most important. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all the committee members, all the judges, ring stewards and everyone else that has been working hard for the success of our world show.
Swiss breeds each received a unique portrait for the finals of Swiss breeds in the main ring. Photo Vince Hogan.
“We are very pleased with the registration numbers, and I am proud to say that we can call the Geneva World Dog Show a real world show, as we have exhibitors with dogs coming from 68 different countries from all continents. We have been working very hard for a long time to make sure that you will enjoy the show and make this a great chance for everyone to admire the most beautiful dogs of the world. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the FCI, the Swiss Kennel Club, Palexpo SA and our sponsors for their support and confidence. Organizing a world show in a small country like Switzerland was perhaps a brave idea, but it was a dream that we really wanted to make into a reality. And we did it!”
This world show had followed two in 2022, with Madrid followed by São Paulo in December.
BIS received this dog made out of Swiss chocolate. Photo Vince Hogan.
A gala dinner took place on Saturday night at the show center, where Laurent Pichard made a number of personal awards to some of the people who had worked for or supported the show.
The entry for the show was just over 13,000 for the WDS, but with the entries added in for the Grand Prix and the specialities, it topped 20,000. The stats showed that 120 dogs were there from the U.S., with Italy as the top entry with 3,137 dogs, then France with 2,990. Rebecca Cross was there from America and took the breed in Scotties.
As Switzerland is a small dog country, the show needed a lot of help, and it seemed like most ring stewards had come from many different countries; stewards got a fee, and a hotel with bed and breakfast provided, I believe. All were using iPads in the ring, connected to what seemed to be a very efficient system and online (only) catalog. There was a sizeable entry and attendance from Russia, as Switzerland is deemed (always) a neutral country. The Russian entry is always an important chunk of entry money to shows of this nature, although the figures actually showed only 165 from Russia itself … but 134 from Kazakhstan — unusual! The lowest country entry was Puerto Rico, with just two dogs.
The main ring was set up and organized by a company known as P1 dog shows, largely based in Slovakia. They set the whole ring up with lights, music and staging, much like a music concert. The ring was large with a swath of blue carpet; the main stage featured the class names, judges, countries, etc., and carried partner logos. Very professional, as were the two main ring speakers, Linda Voláriková, who spoke in English, and Joe Bellis, who spoke in French. Pre-ring judging took place at the rear of the main ring with an efficient team of ring stewards.
The stylish main ring presenters, Linda Volarikova and Joe Bellis, speaking English and French, respectively. Photo Vince Hogan.
There were some comments about the size of other rings, especially on the Wednesday for the one-day show, the Grand Prix, when all 10 groups were on, and a late-night finish around 9 p.m. Most days of the WDS had a more reasonable finishing time!
There was a reasonable number of trade stands that all seemed pretty busy most of the time, and even one launching a computer game featuring Jean Claude van Damme … the muscles from Brussels! All rosettes for the show were produced by Birdbrook in the U.K., and OUR DOGS was the official international media partner. Tauro from Lithuania was a principal sponsor, and the World Dog Press Association handled all press registrations. Kynoweb from Holland provided brilliant photographic coverage and two well-serviced studios.
As well as the super success for Portugal, a British junior handler was crowned the Best Junior Handler at the World Dog Show and also had success with her dog. Isn’t it great that someone so young can compete on an international stage and do so well?
Lauren Goddard, 18, took top spot under U.S. judge Jason Hoke with her Border Terrier, “Winston” (Ch. Awbrooksky Never Back Down JW). Having decided to enter, she knew it would be her last chance to take the prize, and she was sure glad she did! Jason judged the semi-final heats and then the grand final itself.
International Junior Handler winner from UK with judge Jason Hoke of the U.S. Photo ProDog Photography.
Lauren and her dog Winston had started their Geneva adventure in style by going Reserve Best in Show at the Grand Prix Des Geneve, the opening event of the show on Wednesday. They had previously enjoyed U.K. success at Crufts, where they won the Junior Warrant Final, and National Terrier, where they won the Max King Top Terrier competition.
Lauren’s initial social media post read: “Me and Winston have won the finals of the junior handling competition of the world! I owe everything to this little dog who never lets me down! And a huge thank-you goes to the judge Jason Hoke! And Yiannis Vlachos for putting me through the heats! What a time we have had in Geneva.”
Future Junior handlers after the show's conclusion. Photo Vince Hogan.
After qualifying under the judge from Greece, Lauren then got through to the semi-final and then onto the final itself. “Then there were six of us and third place was announced, second place was announced and then it was me,” she said. “It was a moment you would never forget. It was quite confusing because they announced it in French. What I was listening out for was Border Terrier because that was in English. I listened out for my dog breed. They said it and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh!’
“I would never have dreamed of winning. It was my last year as a Junior and I thought because it was my last year, why not? I did it for the experience, really.
“I won a trophy, a massive rosette and I got gifted loads of free stuff. I was walking out of the ring and food companies were saying, ‘Here’s our food — can we get a photo of you with it?’ I got lots of free bags of dog food! Both my parents were crying. I could hear them scream! I had to focus on the other dogs but I did hear the scream in the background. They were crying!”
Nearly the final words go to Marta Flores from Portugal, who handled the BIS winner for both shows. This dog has one heck of a record!
“To talk about Cash is to talk about a very special dog, very special friend,” Marta told me. “Runi Kristiansen [Cash’s breeder/owner in Norway] and I were for some years competitors in the PWD rings, but always ‘very polite competing.’ Then one day Runi together with her husband told me that one day they would love for me to handle one of their dogs.
“That happened at the WDS in Brno [Czech Republic], where I met and showed Cash for the first time.
“By that time, I've already noted that he was a real show dog with his happiness and so proud of himself. One year after, we agreed that Cash would come to Portugal to finish his championship and some more shows. Well, we knew he could do great here, but he did more than that, winning several BIS in Portugal and he finished the year in the most amazing way, winning BIS at the Finnish winner and one week after also BIS at the Stockholm winner show.
Best in Show winner on the move. Photo by ProDog Photography.
“Not sure if many dogs have done it … so winning these two big and important shows was just spectacular! Cash came back to Portugal in the beginning of 2023 because we thought being a Portuguese breed, we could try to place him in the top dogs of the year in the breed-origin country.
“And so far, we were right, as Cash is currently the number-one top dog in Portugal all breeds and Portuguese breeds. His winning at Genéve Grand Prix 2023 and some days after at the World Dog Show has left us all speechless. What a performance!”
Not a lot to add to those impassioned words … a real success story for dedicated pedigree-dog breeders and enthusiasts.
The organizers’ closing online statement reads:
“We would like to say thank you to everyone who was in Geneva during this WDS week; all exhibitors, breeders, handlers, owners, judges, photographers, sponsors, partners, visitors and to everyone who worked for over a year for this amazing event! Congratulations to all for your great results. Enjoy and celebrate your wins. We look forward to see you all in ZAGREB in April 2024 and we would like to give the WDS over to the Croatian Kennel Club by saying: SEE YOU IN ZAGREB! But we will see us first once again in Geneva for the Geneva Shows in November.”
So onward now to Zagreb, the host city that stepped in to hold the WDS in 2024, as it was not possible to stage the show in the original venue, Kyiv in Ukraine. The flag handover ceremony took place in the main ring on Sunday evening before Best in Show.
Unfortunately, many judges and exhibitors were snarled up on the Monday after the show with an air-traffic issue over the U.K. that caused long delays and a lot of frustration at the airport.
It’s good it happened AFTER the show!