Category Archives: Dog Shows

Show Day Prep for Setters

From pro-handler Will Alexander a You Tube video chock full of tips about prepping your Setter for the ring on show day. While Will is working on an English Setter in this video, his tips for brushing and grooming are fantastic and will help make your dog look like a million bucks!  Will’s posted many more tips and tricks on You Tube for those who seek more, check it out! Thank you Will for this fabulous site.

Will has graciously shared many more tips and tricks on his website, find them all here: Will Alexander tips for showing dogs

AKC Code of Sportsmanship

AKC CODE OF SPORTSMANSHIP

PREFACE: The sport of purebred dog competitive events dates prior to 1884, the year of AKC’s birth. Shared values of those involved in the sport include principles of sportsmanship. They are practiced in all sectors of our sport: conformation, performance and companion. Many believe that these principles of sportsmanship are the prime reason why our sport has thrived for over one hundred years. With the belief that it is useful to periodically articulate the fundamentals of our sport, this code is presented.

  • Sportsmen respect the history, traditions and integrity of the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen commit themselves to values of fair play, honesty, courtesy, and vigorous competition, as well as winning and losing with grace.
  • Sportsmen refuse to compromise their commitment and obligation to the sport of purebred dogs by injecting personal advantage or consideration into their decisions or behavior.
  • The sportsman judge judges only on the merits of the dogs and considers no other factors.
  • The sportsman judge or exhibitor accepts constructive criticism.
  • The sportsman exhibitor declines to enter or exhibit under a judge where it might reasonably appear that the judge’s placements could be based on something other than the merits of the dogs.
  • The sportsman exhibitor refuses to compromise the impartiality of a judge.
  • The sportsman respects the AKC bylaws, rules, regulations and policies governing the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen find that vigorous competition and civility are not inconsistent and are able to appreciate the merit of their competition and the effort of competitors.
  • Sportsmen welcome, encourage and support newcomers to the sport.
  • Sportsmen will deal fairly with all those who trade with them.
  • Sportsmen are willing to share honest and open appraisals of both the strengths and weaknesses of their breeding stock.
  • Sportsmen spurn any opportunity to take personal advantage of positions offered or bestowed upon them.
  • Sportsmen always consider as paramount the welfare of their dog.
  • Sportsmen refuse to embarrass the sport, the American Kennel Club, or themselves while taking part in the sport.

Feature photo by Dustin Hartje

Moving Toplines

Gordon Setter Expert

I sure hope I’m still on good terms with my guardian angel because I’m about to walk barefoot on hot coals. Now folks, before I move on, you need to know, I love my fellow breeder/exhibitors and am not, in any way, shape, or form finding fault with anyone’s breeding or dogs. What I do intend  is to help newbies learn what more experienced breeders and judges see as they wade through a class of Gordon Setters or sort through a litter of puppies. So bear with me, and know that I’ve randomly chosen from a huge group of photos. I did the best I could to crop those photos to prevent identification, so if you spot your own dog and don’t like the way it looks…KEEP QUIET…you can pretend it’s not your dog and no one will be any wiser! Also, everyone needs to remember that this…

View original post 1,144 more words

Survey Results – Future of the National Specialty

Purpose of this survey was to begin to take a measure, the pulse of the GSCA membership so to speak, pertaining to our regional committees and independent specialty clubs, who by virtue of the GSCA’s current policies and procedures are the organizations upon whom we depend first, to host the annual GSCA National Specialty.

We asked respondents to  project their opinion out to encompass the next 5 years after 2018 so we could begin to evaluate if there are enough regional committees or independent clubs with interest or plans to cover hosting the National Specialty for the next 5 years. The thought being, that if regional committees and independent clubs have no intention of bidding, perhaps we need to rethink current policies and procedures to better accommodate the future of the event.

67 individuals completed the survey that was posted on Facebook and sent via email to the 400 GSCA members follow the blog, Gordon Setter Expert. Respondents expressed opinions as to their own individual interest about working on a National Specialty, and also their own opinion as to whether the club or committee to which they belonged would be hosting a National Specialty in the future. NOTE: these were not club/committee responses, these are responses from some of the members of those clubs or committees. Polling the club or committee for a direct answer would be a Board decision and action.

Question 1

First we asked folks to tell us which regional committee or independent specialty club they belonged to:

  • 12     Did not belong to a club or committee but have worked on a NS committee
  • 9     Tartan GSC
  • 7     Nodrog GSC of MI
  • 5     High Plains
  • 5     Midwest
  • 4     Mid Atlantic
  • 4     Missouri Valley
  • 4     Sunbelt GSC
  • 3     Badgerland GSC
  • 3     Golden Gate GSC
  • 3     GSC of Greater Atlanta
  • 3     North Country GSC of MN
  • 2     New Mexico Gordonites
  • 2     Pacific Northwest GSC
  • 1     Southern CA GSC

Question 2

In the past year or so, has your group/club discussed hosting a future National Specialty or is there an intent to discuss this in the near future?

NO 57% or 38 people

YES 43% or 29 people

Question 3

How likely is it that YOU, as an INDIVIDUAL, would vote in favor of your group/club hosting the GSCA national Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

44 Yes or likely       13 No or unlikely

  • 38   Somewhat likely
  • 6     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 11     No, not at all likely
  • 2     Somewhat unlikely
  • 8     Other (these are responses are primarily from people who may not have a vote, as they do not belong to a club or committee)

Comments:

I live in a region without an area committee. I have twice chaired events at previous National Specialties.

I try to support nationals with donations, raffle purchases, etc. I am not a member of a regional club.

I do not have a local club.

I live in QC/Canada

As we are hosting 2017 I can’t answer this question.

not involved in local often volunteer

Not sure as I have not been to a meeting recently

Being discussed but no consensus

Question 4

Speaking as a member of the group/club, what is your best guess as to whether your group will be submitting a bid to host the National Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

36 No or unlikely     13 Yes or likely

  • 22     Not at all likely
  • 14     Somewhat unlikely
  • 11     Somewhat likely
  • 2     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 16     Other

Comments:

Don’t know, but they know I won’t be there to help

I live in a region not covered by an event/are committee and has few active GSCA members.

Not sure

Involved with a group considering 2019

I do not have a local club.

not sure

Unsure — too many variables

not a member of any other club in the USA

unknown

volunteer

Not sure

not sure

Not a clue.

Not a clue

No idea

Question 5

Use this section to give the name of any other clubs to which you belong as listed above, as well as the answers to the two questions above.

Badgerland GSC

I am also a member of the Standing National Specialty Committee

I belong to Fredricksburg Virginia Kennel Club and the GSCA. I used to belong to the Blue Ridge Gordon Setter Club.

GSCA National

I’ve been to the Rhode island National, it’s close to QC so I would go if possible again.

Badgerland is an Event Committee so has no actual membership and can’t charge any dues. About 5 years ago Badgerland was approached by Highlanders to have a specialty show in connection of the ones they used to have. This was brought to a meeting by a couple of our members (we were still a club at that time and not an Event Committee). When asked about the costs involved nobody could provide us with any information so we floored the discussion until more information was provided which  never happened.

2019

GSCA GRCA

New Mexico Gordonites

Think I’m in Midwest (Ohio) by default, ie no action on my part, but get questionnaires referring to judges and specialty show timing.

TarTan GSC

WVESF, Willamette English Setters Fanciers

Badgerland although it is not an active club anymore

Question 6

Use this space to provide any additional information regarding the obstacles or reasons why your group/club might be unable or perhaps unwilling to host the National Specialty?

The “new” committee rules which eliminated our ability to organize as a local club to retain interest and attract new members locally.

I love in a region without an organized area committee. Gordon owners in my region are primarily pet owners or hunters with little interest or experience in hosting a dog show.

Not enough folks in our area.

They didn’t even have a fall specialty this year.

Cant see any reason, they are highly capable.

Not enough people to do the work. Also the membership is older.

We do not have enough active members to even begin to host a national.

Enough reliable people. Need a person to coordinate.

lack of workers. Many are overworked from the past decades and feel that newer, younger members should work. There are many exhibitors that have never helped with a regional or National Specialty and many older members no longer exhibit and feel it is their turn it sit back and enjoy without spending so much time and out of pocket expenses for the benefit of others and often feel like they are unappreciated.

I don’t speak with other members very much lately.

Our independent club has hosted successful multiple national specialties and field trials. Quite frandly, our club is ‘aging’ out and we do not feel that we would be able to filed the bodies or time in order to host a national of the caliber we have become used to producing.

Hosting a National Specialty is a lot of work. The work falls on the shoulder of  fewer and fewer volunteers as clubs become smaller.

DISBANDED

I live at a distance from both these clubs so I am not involved in day to day decisions. However, I am able to help with online things which I did with the last TarTan NS.

Club members inability to participate. Money it costs. time constraints for those that might consider it.

TarTan has hosted the National Specialty in 1989, 1997, 2004, and 2012. It’s a lot of work and our membership is aging out and some who have headed up past events have stated they are no longer willing.

Cost and lack of members willing to help, like most clubs, it gets harder to find volunteers and those  that do are aging.

Not enough people, not enough financial support from the GSCA

Manpower

Once of the big factors in hosting a national specialty (especially in clubs which do not have large number of members) is the cost. In my opinion the national club need to commit to providing significant financial assistance with covering those costs that cannot be completely covered by entry fees, specialty “social” event fees, etc.

Too few volunteers, too big of a need for fundraising. It’s ususally the same people doing all of the work with little help from other club members who still will sit back and complain about things.

Lack of membership & opposing ideas on what would make a national a great event. members who want to do everything on the cheap vs putting your heart and sound into an event.

Our members do not show they hunt and are mainly pet people.

We just had one in Ohio so it wools dall in the latter part of that range.

Badgerland hasn’t even managed to put on a Hunt Test or Field Trial in the past couple years. We also don’t have am actual membership anymore because in order to do that we would need to form separate club. We don’t have meetings either. The majority of the male’s in our club don’t want to participate in any “show” events so they would not be willing to help with a national which also limits the number of people we would have to help.

Age of members, number of workers, amount of work involved.

Older people in group. Most are not willing to do the work involved. Same few do most of the work.

This is a bit lengthy to try and explain but pretty much ever since we became an area committee and not be considered a club, hold meetings, collect dues etc. we  ahve lost interest. We have no reason to get together. Last several field events have been cancelled due to lack of entries. Since no reason to get together (hence the club feel) hard to get members (that is a whole other topic) to commit or gain new members. People want to belong to a club. Not just put on events for the parent club. We always had the same group doing the same thing. Personally I’m burned out and without you being a GSCA member you can’t be on the committee to begin with.

Fundraising is arduous and difficult. People now have health limitations and lifting restrictions that making setting up and long days of work difficult.

Hosting 2017

Not enough volunteers. And money.

We’re aging to the point where the physical work load is simply too much to handle. Carting around items to sell  to raise fund to host the event is exhausting and we’re past the point where we want to do that.

Fewer people involved in the club makes it hard to spread the work load. We’re burned out and exhausted but at the same time do not want the event to go away.

We are hosting next year so I doubt we would be willing to do it so soon again.

I think age is taking it’s toll. Age of the people, not the dogs.

We hosted the National in 2013. At that time we had about 25-30 members. Now we have only about 5 members.

apathy

Question 7

Feel free to share any additional thoughts or comments here that may be of value regarding this topic.

I have attended most of the National Specialties in the past 5 years and have shown dogs in Conformation. I prefer that the National Specialty be held in different parts of the country, not only so that I have the chance to travel, but also so that Gordon owners across the nation can have the opportunity to have the specialty located near them. I do not believe that a single permanent location is a good idea for the club membership as a whole. However, a standardization of the time of year or length of time between Nationals might assist members with seasonal obs, like teachers, attend the show and eliminate long tretches of time between shows, i.e. more than 12 months.

It seems that even having to come up with the volunteers and organization to hold a national specialty every few years is overwhelming for regional clubs. We all know that 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work in ANY volunteer organization, so no wonder we wear them out. I would support having a standing committee at the national level who would do the majority of the work to organize a national specialty with a local club providing a much more minor amount of support (since I have never been around a club doing a national I don’t know how that division of work would be decided but someone would!) much closer to dhow time. As a club we may want to think about a national every two years instead of every year or 18months, perhaps that would spread the work out as well. (This has likely been suggested in the past, not sure) Thanks!

 

Left the club because i was not made to feel welcome or like I belonged.

Fundraising is one of the biggest obstacles in putting this event on.

Having it spread out for 4-5 days in the middle of the week prevents a lot of working members from attending.

I think we need to get back to the basics of the national. Focus more on the ring experiences instead of too many extra fundraising activities. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the social interactions but I think we have jam packed too many in one day and it forces people to choose what they can afford or have time to do.

I am not a member of any dog club, but have participated in National Specialties in the past.  As nice as it is to visit other parts of the country, the number of folks participating at this time seem to indicate that the Midwest is drawing the most participants. I know it is not fair to the coastal folks, but it is what it is. We need to think of the needs/wants of the many and not just a few. Also, perhaps looking into a certain time of the year instead f any time during the year might make it easier for people to plan. For instance the coastal people might be more inclined to drive through the mountains in early summer to early fall.

Since jobs and/or weather are factors in traveling long distances, Nationals should be held June through August every other year. Let’s not marginalize younger club members who are not retired. We are a club with an aged membership and need to solicit younger members and juniors.

We hosted extremely successful (in entries and financial outcome) events, yet we had the feeling that the GSCA board and the Club in general was not supportive of our efforts and some non working members were extremely critical and demanding of the hosting members. Did not leave a good feeling with some of our hard working members.

I do like the National moving around the country so everyone has a chance of attending, although I do know other breeds that have been happy to have all their Nationals at Purina Farms. I’ve never been able to attend one west of Ohio primarily because of the time of year—if the National is during the academic year, I can’t attend. For that reason I will be unable to attend the AZ National.

like I said I would be happy to participate in the east part of the USA near the border but I am not a member of any other club in the USA.

Badgerland “hosted” the NFT back in 2005 and we were treated like shit by the National Field Trial Committee so that has also left a very bad taste in our mouths about National event. We did take care of the silent auction at the Minnesota National and the Hunt Test at both of the Nationals put on by the Highlanders but we still had a difficult time finding enough people in our club (at that time we were still a club and not an Event Committee) to man the events.

Would love to attend a national…never have.

I find it hard to find people that want to even get involved anymore. You get a few people here and there. But if you look at the majority of who organizes these things. These people have been around for years. Haven’t had anyone interested in joining for quite some time. Tell me what they are joining?

Fund raising by National Specialty volunteers needs to stop or be made optional. Too much work and pressure are being placed on those who volunteer to put on the show. the same people volunteer over and over. Many, including board members, have never taken a leadership role in putting on a National and they have no idea what’s involved.

We need to develop a plan to streamline the work involved in hosting the event and that might mean using a single location where most of the set up, clean up, equipment etc. is handled by the site management such as that provided by locations such as Purina or Eukanuba. We must streamline fundraising, and we must find another means to finance the GSCA’s  overall operations as the folks supporting the national Specialty should not be the only members who’s donations and generosity are being used to cover the GSCA’s bottom line expenses – proceeds from the national Specialty would all ideally be funneled back into the National Specialty and not disbursed to cover any and all other outstanding GSCA expenses such as the Newsletter, board expenses, printing, pictorial, etc. This would put less of a financial burden on the National’s  committee, exhibitors and participants and alleviates much of the fundraising pressure.

Not sure why AZ should be an issue. Was RI an issue several years ago? Would be curious to know what entry counts at various Nationals has been compared to registered Gordons.

I really hope that the NS continues to move around the country. I know the general membership feels most of the exhibitors live in the mid-west or further east and the Purina Farms would be ideal. It is a lovely place but quite cost prohibitive to drive from western Canada.flying continues to be difficult. I have also flown to eastern Canada and then rented a vehicle to drive south to the NS again cost is a factor as to how many dogs I can bring and if I can find someone to share expenses. I do my best to get to most of the NS and I enjoy seeing the US.

Thoughts of course chairing between 2 clubs. Compromise is always difficult but would be less cost to each individual club. GSCA make a larger contribution maybe.

While it is fun to visit other areas, it would be nice to have a “central” location and especially nice to have the same week every year. It makes planning the trip much easier.

I feel the standing National Specialty Committee  needs to plan to host the National yearly. There are a lot of parent clubs that host their National every year. I feel there are a good number of GSCA members who would be willing to help out if asked. You cannot always count on just asking who would like to volunteer but must specifically ask someone – can you do this ___? I would like to see at least 1 day of our event held on a weekend. I do not think we should overlook holding our National with an all breed show, our embers are dropping to a point that could be done.

Personally, I don’t think member input is valued by the GSCA. Decisions are made by the board in our name, but there is little discussion or request for input. It might have been nice to see an email blast about the 2018 national before a decision was made. It’s great that we had two bids, but a November national can be iffy with weather and holiday issues.

We are falling apart as a club. People make suggestions but nothing is changed. We need to have nationals over a weekend where people can go.

Published by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Ben Gordon Setter Perez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Your Feedback – GSCA National Specialty

This may be the first of many short articles dedicated to the future of the GSCA National Specialty. We need you to join the discussion, and the 4 question survey at the bottom of this article will help to begin gathering information – please participate !

Where we were and where we are today.

It is the GSCA practice to host the National Specialty at various geographic locations through the US and this had served us well. However, over the past 11 years the regional committees and independent clubs who used to step forward to host the National have been unable to do so, leaving us with many years where the National would not have been held, had it not been for the National Standing Committee or other individuals who stepped up to the plate to fill in those gaps.

Half of the time, 5 out of 10 years, the GSCA was unable to find a regional committee or Independent club who were able to host the National. To simplify, had we not been for the National Standing Committee and had we not allowed others to organize a committee without being a typically recognized group, we would not have been able to host a National Specialty half of the time.

Our future and do we need to change some practices?

So, it seems to many of us, like this is the time for us to hold discussions and solicit feedback from you, the membership, (at least from those of you who participate in the National Specialty) as to how to organize the future of the National Specialty. If you’re a Facebook member you’ll find an ongoing discussion on this topic on the Gordon Setter Students and Mentors Group.

To begin, we need to determine if there is enough interest and volunteer workers remaining in our regional committees and independent clubs to continue the practice of hosting the National, every year, in various geographic locations across the country.

The following survey will take you less than a minute to complete but will gather some basic information to move the discussion forward in the right direction. We invite all GSCA members who are also actively involved with a GSCA regional committee or an Independent Gordon Setter club to complete this quick questionnaire. We’re  seeking to gain an overview of the situation here, and don’t need specific and exacting answers, so answer to the best of your ability with your own opinions.

CLICK HERE to answer our 4 quick questions!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Ben Perez

AKC Chairman’s Report September 2016

Please join me in thanking Nance Skoglund,  AKC Delegate – GSCA for providing us with the AKC Chairman’s report from the September 12, 2016 Delegate’s  Meeting.

We’ve published articles in the past referring to the declining number of purebred dog registrations, the declining number of breeders, and subsequently the declining number of dog show entries. A quick look at the drop in entries at our flagship events, the GSCA National Specialty or the GSCA National Fieldtrial will easily provide evidence that participation is at an all time low at these events.

This Chairman’s report outlines the programs that AKC has put in place to address those pressing issues. But AKC alone cannot effect all of the changes required without the support and assistance of breeder/exhibitors like you and me.

While I’ve included the entire report I’m starting with a few key notes from the report for your quick review:

  • Why is this happening?
    • …factors certainly include cultural pressures and…canine legislation.
    • …the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now.
    • Zoning laws …
    • The Internet age …host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.
  • None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers.
  • …use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences
  • …we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

chair-rpt-1

Since we last met as a Body, the American conversation has become saturated with dialogue about the presidential election and the excitement of US athletes on the Olympic world stage. Both events are inspiring people all over America to think about what is important to us – to act for the greater good, to show pride in our nation, and to keep our traditions alive. For all of us, our dog sports are the traditions that have kept us by the whelping box, inside a ring or in the field, and on the road so many weekends a year. It is our sports — and more importantly our dogs — that motivate us to serve in this Body and make positive changes that will benefit everyone who shares our love of purebred dogs.

chair-rpt2

The sport of Conformation is the flagship AKC event, and is the sport that is at the very foundation of our Registry. The pursuit of Championship points, records and rankings is only a set of mileposts along a journey that is at its core about the evaluation of breeding stock. We have held true to this purpose for the last hundred and forty-two years, when the first documented all-breed dog show in the United States took place back in 1874. Yet, the trends over the past ten years show us that Conformation is in a tenuous position. “The graying of the Sport” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but we know that the issue is far more complex than the simple fact of an aging population. As a community, we need to take a close look at what is happening within Conformation, and work together to find solutions. I would like to take this opportunity to show you where things stand today and describe the work that is being done to address the matter head on. And, just as importantly, I would like to ask you to think about how you can help as well.

The numbers show a pretty clear picture.

All-breed and conformation entries have been falling over the past ten years.

chair-rpt3

Fewer conformation championships have been earned.

chair-rpt4

Every year, fewer dogs are exhibited in conformation.

chair-rpt-5

Why is this happening?

chair-rpt6Yes, we’re getting older. At least some of us are! Our constituents have told us about other reasons too. Concerns about judging, perceptions of professionalization of the sport and busier lives with more choices are some of the challenges we face.

Other factors certainly include cultural pressures and their resulting canine legislation. We all know that the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now. Zoning laws keep some of us from owning as many dogs as we would like to maintain our breeding programs. The Internet age has created a proliferation of platforms that play host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.

chair-rpt7

Fundamentally, the American public’s understanding of conformation is limited to what they see on television two or three times a year. Recent focus groups revealed that we have a long way to go when it comes to educating the average dog owner.

What are we doing about it? None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers. There is too much at stake; we cannot risk the loss of our heritage in the coming generations. That is why we have taken strides in the past year and with our additional staff leadership, to create programs that will retain, if not attract, people in and to the sport. chair-rpt8

If a new prospect isn’t waiting in the wings or in the cards, a compelling reason to stay in the game is crucial for retention. To fill that gap, we created the Grand Championship title, which has given thousands of exhibitors a reason to keep showing their Champions and remain part of the community that they built through the quest for those first fifteen points. And it is working. Since we introduced the Grand Champion and its subsequent levels of competition, over 45,000 dogs and exhibitors have experienced the joy of earning these titles instead of perhaps hanging up their leads.

chair-rpt9On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also those who are just starting out. The 4-6 puppy class is another place where seeds of hope have been planted. We have been able to follow the trajectory of those who have entered this class with their young prospects, and we have seen that these exhibitors have continued in the sport with subsequent entries in other events.

We have broadened opportunities for devotees of Miscellaneous and FSS breeds with Open Shows, and we have seen these enhance entries as well.

chair-rpt10

We heard many of you and your constituents express frustration about the challenges of competing against professionals. The National Owner-Handled Series has become a forum to celebrate and reward the dedication and contributions of show-dog owners. Our data show that the availability of owner-handled classes does drive entries to some degree. In some cases, the need for bigger rings is proof enough that NOHS is at the very least helping to slow the decline of entries overall.

chair-rpt11

Casting our gaze on the future would be a fruitless exercise if we did not put special emphasis on our Juniors program. Juniors is where passion for dogs is sparked, skills are honed and young talent is encouraged. We must recognize that if fewer parents participate in conformation, the Junior classes will not grow. Juniors who are active today face compelling choices for all types of entertainment and ever-dwindling free time. We must engage with our Juniors to keep them involved – to help them keep dogs and canine sports a central part of their lives. To do that, we want to expand opportunities for these young competitors. Significant changes are being considered for our Juniors ranking program. There will be stronger outreach to community organizations such as 4H. To prevent falloff among the “aging out,” we aim to reach the 18 to 25 age group with more ways to be involved and more targeted communications to maintain and build continuing relationships with this important segment. Cultivating our youth is key to preserving our future.

chair-rpt12

The health of our clubs is an important area of focus for all of us. Running on the sheer dedication and efforts of volunteers like you, our clubs are the fuel and the backbone of our sport. Dog shows owe their success to the careful planning and seamless execution by their event-hosting clubs. But, as it is said, “it takes a village.” That’s why AKC has created the All Breed Advisory Group, which began last July offering clubs the opportunity to work with a panel of experienced peers to pinpoint areas for improvement and to help put changes in place. After all, enhancing the dog show experience benefits not only our clubs, but exhibitors and spectators as well. If your club would like to learn more about working with the All Breed Advisory Group, contact Doug Ljungren in the Raleigh office.

chair-rpt13

One of AKC’s greatest strengths is our use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences, all linked by a common passion for dogs. Thousands of new dog owners are added to the Registry every month, but in the course of that same month, the people who visit AKC online number well over four million! We need to harness that potential for the benefit of our sport.

chair-rpt14

Marketing strategies are being put in place today that will allow us to tell prospective exhibitors and spectators about dog shows, matches, open shows, puppy classes and other events that may be just right for them. The “e-blasts” of old will be replaced by targeted messaging that tells our customers, “we know you, we listen to you, and we think this event may be right for you.” Our new capabilities in trigger campaigns will drive even better response to our communications; the science of data management is already helping us react strategically to our customers’ needs. Years ago, a new owner would register a puppy, and after the certificate came in the mail, AKC became a distant memory. We are changing that. Today, new registrants receive an email inviting them to a match, an open show or a 4-6 month puppy class. After all, as we all know, every Champion started somewhere.

Enhancements to our web site will have prospective exhibitors and the uninitiated in mind. Our Events Calendar should be a destination that serves the seasoned exhibitor as well as the newcomer. With over 4 million unique people coming to AKC.org every single month, there is an excellent opportunity to tell the world about what we have to offer. It has been said, “If you build it, they will come.” We believe, “If we build it right, they will learn.” To share the joy of showing dogs, we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

All of these efforts to support Conformation are only the beginning of a broader strategy to breathe new life into all Events across the board. We are committed to conducting market research to define our strengths, identify weaknesses, and uncover new opportunities. We want to fully understand the barriers, so we can work towards removing them.

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There is more that we can do together, as a community. Most of us would agree that what keeps us in the fancy is the joy of being with our dogs the camaraderie in sharing a weekend with friends who understand our great passion for this sport. It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

As a delegate body, let’s allow ourselves to think creatively and keep our minds open to new concepts. Instead of voting ideas away, let’s take a hard look at rule changes and consider sunset clauses for out-of-the box proposals that deserve a try. Let us not fear failure. As any dog show exhibitor or obedience trialer will remind us, even an unsuccessful day brings a learning opportunity and a plan for what to improve upon next time.

It is always a challenge to evolve and adapt in order to preserve tradition. Many of us have spent a lifetime in the sport, inspired by legendary breeders and majestic purebred dogs that live on through pedigrees we revere. For all of us who care to sustain and nurture the magic of the human-canine bond inside our rings, and for generations who will follow to experience that same joy, we must work together constructively. We owe it to the sport that has given us all so much, and to our much loved dogs, who have made it all possible.

 

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Ronald H. Menaker

Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

By Bev Crosby, Greenville Kennel Club Obedience & Rally Chairperson Each year at the Greenville Cluster, there is an elderly handler who comes to show her Shih Tzu in obedience. This is the only show she does each year. She comes alone, carrying her dog in her arms. Someone drops her off and picks her up at the end of the day. Usually she shows up too early for her class, but always finds the courage to ask someone where she should go and when her class starts. She isn’t very knowledgeable of the rules, nor has she progressed very far out of any of the various options of Novice classes. But, she loves to show her dog. She sits silently in a chair outside her assigned ring, waiting…waiting. Invisible to the rest of us bustling about warming up our dogs, worried about the slighest bobble. Close your eyes and imagine the picture of what I witnessed today. On one side of the obedience venue, Utility B is celebrating a 200. With that party over, I return to my […]

Source: Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

Impressions

Another chapter in our review of the Gordon Setter breed standard

Barb Manson

Written by  Barbara Manson

There are a few things that we need to tie together in regard to the standard.  I’ve discussed most of the pieces but we need to see how they work together to create a good quality Gordon Setter.  As breeders and exhibitors, it’s important that we not “fool” ourselves as we evaluate our own dogs and those of our competitors.  We want what’s best for our breed and we need to be confident and articulate in regards to our choices.  We must also establish, in our own minds, what represents a correct Gordon Setter and what is simply personal preference.  These can be two separate things.  By so doing, we are keeping our minds open and we are better able to evaluate the qualities found in competitors dogs.  This is vital if we are to advance our breed.

Impressions
Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

What does the judge see when he/she is evaluating our dogs on the go around.  We all know he sees dogs who may be limping.  These dogs are usually excluded from competition because they are considered unsound on that day.  If you’re new, and this happens to you, don’t worry.  This has happened to most of us at one time or another.  Though disheartening, you will compete another day.  There are many other things that can be seen from the judge’s vantage point.  Under general appearance, size is mentioned.  I’ve covered this previously, but the judge can do an initial comparison between competitors at this point.  He should also see an “active, upstanding and stylish” dog ” appearing capable of doing a full day’s work in the field”.  Balance, and how all the pieces I’ve discussed fit together, is also apparent.  A “long, lean” neck, a “rather short back” and “a short tail” can be seen along with a correct topline on the move.  The expectation is a “high head carriage” and a back that remains relatively level on the move, not running down hill or overly slopingshoulder to rear.  The correctness of the tailset and its relationship to the croup is in evidence at this point.  The tail should appear as an extension of the back and be “carried horizontal or nearly so”.  The gait should be “bold, strong, driving and free-swinging”.  The tail flags constantly while the dog is in motion”.  So what constitutes a “free-swinging” gait?  It is a “smooth flowing, well balanced rhythm, in which the action is pleasing to the eye, effortless, economical and harmonious”.   The dog moves so easily it seems as though he is floating and could move that way all day without tiring.  If you’re the handler of such a dog, you can actually feel him ” collect” himself as he starts to move.

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Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

Temperament also comes into play here.  He appears, at this point, “alert, gay, interested and confident”.  He is “fearless and willing”.  Many of us have had the experience of trying to show a dog who was not exactly “willing”.  It’s not what we want to see in the ring but when this happens, I prefer to think of them as “strong minded enough to stand the rigors of training”.  Some are just more strong minded than others.  We’ll discuss training techniques another day but this can be one of the challenges of showing a Gordon Setter.  It may take time and patience, but even the tough nuts can be cracked.  As you consider the importance of these impressions, remember, they are the first thing the judge sees on the initial go around.  He sees them again when your dog is evaluated individually, and they are the last thing he sees before he points his finger.  These impressions are big clues as to the dog’s ability to withstand a long day in the field.  Dogs who exhibit these attributes are a pleasure to watch and they draw your eye to them.  They may seem elegant but closer examination should reveal substance.  They are, after all, Setters.

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Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

I’ve had a couple of people bring up the amount of coat we are seeing in the ring today.  Heavily coated dogs are certainly much more prevalent today than they were when I came into the breed.  You can look back through old reviews and see how this factor has changed.  The current standard only addresses coat as “soft and shining, straight or slightly waved, but not curly”.  It goes on to describe where the long coat appears, but gives no parameters regarding how much coat our dogs should carry. It was once said, you could hunt with your Gordon on Saturday and show him in the ring on Sunday.  That’s definitely harder to do today.  I truly believe you can still finish a championship on a well constructed dog, under knowledgable judges, without an over abundance of coat.

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Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

Once you move to the specials ring, the game is stepped up a bit.  To compete in today’s groups, coat and presentation become big factors.  I believe it would be very hard to pull out group placements and specialty breed wins without it.  It’s become an expectation.  The dogs who are truly competitive at this level, generally have more than coat and meticulous grooming going for them.  I urge breeders and newcomers to politely seek out opportunities to examine as many of these dogs as possible.  I will bet you find “hidden” attributes you didn’t know were there.  That said, if you bought a dog with an abundance of coat for hunting, but you also want to show him in the breed ring, be prepared to take measures to protect the coat or make choices as to which endeavors you wish to pursue and when.  I don’t think we will be returning to the way things were in the sixties or seventies.

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Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

I really enjoyed seeing many of you at the National.  The committee did a great job and I enjoyed the low key atmosphere.  It was so nice, as it always is, to see the dogs.  Thank you to all who participated in the hands on breeders education and a special thank you to those who shared their dogs with us.  Without you, it would not have been a success.

Barbara Manson, Stoughton  WI

Photographs by Ben Perez are shared for your viewing pleasure and are not intended to illustrate any specific point in this article.

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Photo by Ben Perez, 2016 GSCA National Specialty

 

The Hands On Experience

GSCA Breeder Education – 2016 GSCA National Specialty

By Sally Gift

To begin let’s start with excerpts from

Looking at Dogs in a Positive Light When Judging From the March 2015 issue of Dogs in Review magazine.

By Kathy Lorentzen

Positive and clearly explained judging can only be good for both judges and breeders, and for our breeds as well.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for people to look at a dog and immediately point out what they don’t like about that dog? I think most often the first comments made by many people about a dog are negative. We hear an awful lot of “I don’t like” in conversations about dogs.

Probably we are all guilty of falling into the trap of finding fault, both as breeders and as judges, because finding fault is easier than finding virtue. Common faults are easily seen and identified by almost everyone, while breed-specific virtues can only be seen and appreciated by those who truly understand the breed they are looking at…Even judges (sic Breeders) with years of experience were tongue tied when forced to discuss their placements by pointing out only the virtues of each dog. They all wanted to fall back into the “I don’t like” syndrome.

…The positive mindset is not only important for judges but for breeders as well. How many times have I asked a fellow breeder, “What do you think of that dog?” only to have the first sentence come back starting with, “Well, I don’t like…” After my years of learning about positive judging and critiquing, my immediate reaction is to say, “But I want to know what you do like about that dog.” The look I get is generally priceless, but my question usually results in a thoughtful discussion of the virtue of the dog and a learning experience for both of us.

Not everyone will see the exact same virtues in every dog, and not everyone will place the same priorities on those virtues. That is why different dogs win on different days, and when the judging is positive and can be clearly explained, then no one is wrong. But regardless of differing viewpoints and priorities, striving to see dogs in a positive light can only be good for both judges and breeders, and for our breeds as well.

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In forming our concept of the Hands On experience, and in addition to focusing on judging dogs positively, we also wanted to encourage breeders and exhibitors to take the time to put their hands on dogs owned and bred by others; to learn how to feel breed specific qualities to recognize correct structure (breed type), to learn a variety of ideas and concepts from others, and to learn how to see good qualities in all dogs, our own as well as those owned by others – to learn how to develop an unbiased eye.

Now let’s move on to highlights from the Hands On experience!

I can’t possibly write about all the topics we covered, nor all the positives of the dogs presented for exam. But if I haven’t covered a topic or a point that you want to see shared here please offer that in the comment section of this article.

The Hands On experience was open forum, and participants were encouraged to come and go at will, so the group size and the participants fluctuated throughout the program. Some brought dogs who were stacked in front of the group while other participants went over those dogs, the Hands On part. Then, those who examined were asked to share their view of the positive qualities they found on the dog they examined. Discussion about the positives followed with the group at large joining the talk. While committee members, Barb Manson, Peggy Nowak and I moderated to keep things on track, the teachers here were actually the participants, the many breeders and exhibitors who shared their dogs, views, and experience. The Hands On experience lead to many various, thought provoking and enlightening discussions. The participants and their dogs were the shining stars of the experience, and we thank each and every one of you for making this one of the best GSCA Breeder Education events. We have heard a magnitude of positive feedback, and what we heard most often was indeed “best Breeder Education program ever” and “let’s do it again”!

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Photo by Ben Perez

 

Topics that were covered during the experience

Esther Joseph (Australia) shared many interesting points about length of body and the length and structure of the rib cage. She noted that when compared to other countries, the American Kennel Club (AKC) Gordon Setter Standard, is the only standard to to call for a length approximately to equal height, interpreted by many to mean we seek a “a square dog”.

  • AKC StandardProportion: The distance from the forechest to the back of the thigh is approximately equal the height from the ground to the withers.
  • Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) Standard – Body: Moderate length.

One of the key takeaways that I would mention is the wording in the AKC standard, wording that says approximately equal, as this wording gives the Gordon room for sufficient length of body to allow for the driving stride he will exhibit if properly angled front and rear. A dog whose body is too short for the angulation of his rear can not move properly. If we were to breed for a completely square Gordon we would need to breed that dog with less angulation in the rear, so his rear stride does not interfere with his front. Perhaps we need to focus on the standard saying approximately equal and eliminate the word square from our lingo?

The AKC standard says Gordon Setter movement should be: A bold, strong, driving free swinging gait…The hindquarters reach well forward and stretch far back, enabling the stride to be long and the drive powerful. If, for example, a Gordon moves wide in the rear, or perhaps he crabs, we might consider that one of the causes could be that Gordon has too much rear angulation for the length of the body. Is this dog then too short in length (too square)?

(NOTE – as a question was raised, I did confirm the information I gave you regarding how to measure the dog’s length. I was correct, it is measured from the point of the forechest and never from the point on the shoulder joint)

Another discussion ensued on proper length, depth, and spring of rib. Here again Esther opened the chat and spoke in detail about the length of the rib cage and it’s importance for the protection of the Gordon’s vital organs (heart and lungs) when hunting in dense brush and brambles. To completely shield those organs the ribcage must be long from front to back, and we should measure this not simply by looking at the length from the side view of the dog, but also by reaching down under the dog to note how how far back the sternum extends. (The sternum being the floor of the chest, where the ribs meet underneath the dog.)  The Gordon Setter needs not only his prominent forechest (for proper muscle attachment to provide reach) but also good length of the ribcage; a sternum whose length extends it’s boney protection to completely cover sensitive organs. A ribcage and which allows for the lung capacity he needs by it’s spring as well as depth for working in harsh terrain.

Barbara Manson began a discussion about short hocks by demonstrating that good quality on her dog. This  led into a more in depth conversation among the group about the complete rear assembly, angulation, length of hock and sickle hocks. When viewing rear angulation we’d start at the highest point, the femur (think upper thigh) which has always been considered as the longest bone in the dog’s anatomy. The tibia and fibula (second thigh) should be second in length to the femur, and are attached to the hock which should be the shortest in this group of leg bones that contribute to rear angulation. Simple so far, right?

Standing around at rest (as opposed to lusting after a hot smelling bitch which brings every hot blooded dog up on his toes) a well built dog will naturally stand with the rear foot in a somewhat perpendicular line on the ground, right under the boney protuberance that ends at the point of the buttocks.  Just like humans, dogs stand around with their feet almost directly under their butts. Why? Because that’s the dog’s column of support. So, if the second thigh (tibia and fibula) is longer than the upper thigh (femur), opposite the normal length of these bones, the only way the dog can reach his column of support is if the hock is long enough to get the foot where it needs to be – underneath the dogs butt. Proper ratio of length between upper thigh and lower thigh gives us the shorter hock we expect on our Gordon Setter. To sum it, a Gordon needs to have an upper thigh (femur) that is longer than the lower thigh (tibia and fibula), ending with a hock that is shorter than both of those bones.  As a general rule, the genes that control the length of one bone are often linked to the genes that control the length of the corresponding bones so Mother Nature provides compensation when the ratio in the length of these bones gets out of whack, grow a lower thigh that’s too long for the upper thigh and Mother Nature will give you a longer hock to compensate.

Standing around ringside, looking at dogs standing in a relaxed state, the well put together dogs will be standing with their rear feet underneath the back half of the pelvis and their hocks slightly sloping – we should be able to see light between the ground and the entire length of dog’s hock. If a dog is standing with his hocks nearly flat to the ground, odds are excellent that we are looking at excessive angulation (a lower thigh that is longer than the femur).

Sickle hocks are a result of these over angulated rears. For me, sickle hocks are easily seen on the backward swing of the rear leg during movement. Instead of the joint between the lower thigh and the hock opening up into a nearly straight extended line, where the pads on the bottom of the foot end in a position that is nearly straight up (or reaching toward the sky), the sickle hock, due to the imbalanced length of the bones, at fullest rearward extension ends in a shape resembling a sickle – slightly curved instead of fully extended. No glimpse of the sky for the pads on these feet. The rear movement on the sickle hocked dog looks like the swinging of an old fashioned sickle when viewing the sickle from the side.

Our group also spent a bit of time discussing feet. We’re not going to cover all of that discussion here as this article has grown quite long. I did want to mention that I remember a brief conversation around the use of the term “cat foot”. Perhaps I remember wrong but I thought I heard someone say that “cat foot” no longer appeared in our standard.  You were right, cat foot isn’t exactly right, but a reference to cat does appear. The standard says “Feet catlike in shape”. 

I’m splitting this report into sections as it’s growing long, keep an eye out for Part II – The 2016 National Specialty Hands On experience in a future issue. In Part II I’ll share other discussions we held on topics like the width of jaw, angle of croup, block on block heads and vitiglio.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ  GSCA Breeder Education Committee Chair

Photos by Ben Perez

A slide show of random photos from the BOB class at the ’16 GSCA National Specialty courtesy of Ben Perez. We’ll be sharing more of these in future articles. Thanks Ben!

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