Category Archives: Dog Shows

Being an Owner Handler is NOT a Death Sentence

I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp, if she runs at all – I let a handler do the running these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring, and it goes without saying that my love amplified to a rock music decibel when I won. I’ve finished many dogs from many various classes, especially Bred by Exhibitor, and I’ve won my fair share of trips to the winners circle at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine, and knowing my limitations, that’s when I would choose to step back and let a pro take the lead. Today, because of my physical restrictions, I content myself to sit ring side leading the cheering squad. And, manning the water bucket…and handing over the brush…and passing out the bait…

With that said, frequently, I hear comments by exhibitors about how political the judging was, or how “the win” was stacked before the show even started. And just as frequently, I happened to agree with the judge’s decision that day (even if my dog lost) which left me wondering if falling back on that oft voiced complaint, was doing more harm to exhibitors than most of us realize.  Certainly if you think about it, if my dog with a pro handling was a winner that day, I didn’t think that judging was political…I thought we deserved that win. Wouldn’t you? For the winners sake, and many other reasons, I’m hoping to help bring understanding, especially for folks who are struggling to win, about the many, many variables of conformation judging. Sometimes, and often times, politics had nothing to do with the winners that day. I’d like us to give judges, the pros, and the sport a break, at least when it’s deserved!

When I’m watching judging, I am often overwhelmed with the desire to help some hapless exhibitor gain control over their dog, or grab a dog to help the owner learn a better way to groom, or maybe just to shake an exhibitor into consciousness so they go to the ring when called. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like all of you, but one thing I do know, and would share with you, is my belief and experience that the professional often wins because he or she is a professional, doing a professional job. (can you paint your car, bake cupcakes, do taxes, or any one of a million other jobs as well as a pro?) Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of a professionally handled dog versus the owner entry, and what I would share is that we owner handlers must develop our skill so we look and act like the pro, to make our dogs appear their best, to present only well-groomed, conditioned and trained dogs, if we intend to compete on an equal level. Owner handlers can and do win without doubt, but we too must do the work of a pro, and earn our wins by showing the judge the best our dog has to offer.

So, I started out to write this blog about what an owner handler can master to be competitive in the dog show ring, when I remembered that well-worn phrase “Google It” and that worked! I found many well written articles that offer the same advice I would write for you. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog, or simply believe you “just can’t win”, before complaining or blaming another for your loss, or worse yet leave the sport, perhaps you’ll read this, take time to evaluate yourself and your dog, and objectively consider the “picture” you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten that time by a better dog, or could you have done something more to improve the odds in your dog’s favor? No, it’s not always your fault your dog loses, but you’ve got to even the playing field first with skill, know your dog’s attributes and faults, and then consider, carefully, very carefully, if politics was at play, or if perhaps, you just don’t agree with this judge’s opinion on this particular set of dogs.

I love owner handlers and I would do anything to help you win, so you learn to love the sport as much as me, because I’ve lived that dream and know it can happen…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros, and take the time, lots of time, to watch them work, really watch them in action. There is so much you can learn there!

There’s a list below, links to articles to help you prepare to win. These are a great place to help get you to the place where you can know the thrill of being a winning owner handler. (Oh, and also “Google It” for yourself, there’s so much more information out there, I’ve only picked a few.)

Finally, go to dog shows to watch and observe. Spend hours watching the grooming, various random breed classes, the Groups etc., paying close attention to the pro’s and those winning owner handlers! Best use of your time and classroom setting ever!

good sport
Photo by Bob Segal

Win or Lose never forget BE A GOOD SPORT!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photo by Bob Segal from GSCA National Specialty 2014

Owner Handler Advice

Video link: Want to Win Best in Show as an Owner Handler?

Looking Back with Lee – Pro Handlers vs. Owner-Handlers – being an Owner-Handler is not a DEATH SENTENCE! 

 

Where Have All The Show Dogs Gone?

I received this article from Gail Clark who asked me to share it with you. Understanding there are many opinions among conformation exhibitors about the causes for the declining entries at AKC events, and knowing the importance of being open to dialog on all the perceived issues, I decided to do just that, publish this for you.

I have a deep respect for professional handlers, love the folks I’ve hired over the years, and being afflicted with Fibromyalgia, I really, really need them. I cannot run to show my Gordons because of pain. Without a handler to show my entry, I would not be able to participate in a sport I’ve loved for over 45 years.

Many of the  breeders/exhibitors who are in the game today, have aged just like me, to the place where they too hand their dog over to a pro with younger legs. I believe this aging exhibitor base has had some impact on the increased number of handlers in the rings, and I also believe that judges must give the owner handled dogs equal consideration to the professionally handled. Otherwise, entries will continue to decline, and there, along with the entry, goes another chunk of the gene pool. By no means however, do I suspect or imagine, every time a professionally handled dog wins, that it is because the judge was political. One must also be able to appreciate the quality of another exhibitor’s entry when applicable. But, that is another sticky wicket, for discussion on another day!

E.D. NOTE:  This article strictly represents the opinion of the Authors. Since the perception of politics is certainly real in the minds of many, I have decided to print what was sent for your review. Most (rational) well-meaning views are welcome here so feel free to share and discuss in the comment section at the end.  Sally 

Where Have All the Show Dogs Gone? 

by Jim Tomsk, AKC Judge and Gail Clark, PH.D, Canine Behavioral Psychologist 

Originally published in Dog News July 11, 2014 in the column The Judge Speaks.

Where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? Where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? Gone to other playing fields one and all!

As the economy has declined and the cost of living and travel expenses have risen, the presence of Professional Handlers (PH) increased two-fold in the AKC class competition for championship points. Popular PH are walking into the ring and winning with puppies that can barely keep four on the floor and adult dogs that have been repeatedly shown by their breeder/owner/handler without earning points. Can this sudden success by the PH be a coincidence? Was the puppy’s structure so outstanding that the judge could imagine flawless movement as an adult? Did the veteran show dog, who was never able to earn a major, suddenly blossom? Some blame politics for this interesting coincidence, and others, mostly judges, rationalize that top PH only show quality dog clients and have the experience to superbly present a dog in a way that minimizes their faults. When money and clients were plentiful, and PH only dominated the Best of Breed class, the PH were more discriminating in the clients they chose. In our depressed economy, PH must either cut costs or increase business to maintain their income, so choosing only the top quality dogs to show may be a luxury of the past.

Breeders are also looking to cut costs, and hiring the biggest name in professional handling to finish a championship in a few shows on a dog that hasn’t been winning is a win-win situation for both PH and breeder. Unfortunately, what may be a win for the PH and breeder may be a serious disservice to future generations of our breeds. When championship points are awarded because of who is showing rather than the merits and quality of the dog, future generations will inherit the faults so expertly disguised. Breeders produce their breeding stock from show winners. The PH who dazzled the judge with a superb presentation will be long forgotten and the faults will live on. Choosing the winning dogs based on the pH who is hired to help, and not committed to the advancement of the client’s breed, can often propagate changes in the breed that may not be easily repaired. For example, when judges chose the larger specimens for the Winners Circle, breeders will follow the current winning trend and larger dogs are bred for the show ring. The trend for the larger dog in many breeds generally does not maximize function and structural health. Judging the wrong end of the lead is committing a very serious injustice to the purebred dog.

The world of AKC dog shows, as we have known it for over 100 years has changed. At one time, the AKC was the only game in town for prestigious Championships. As more breeders realize AKC Championships can be bought with the right PH, the AKC title is becoming less prestigious and coveted. The purist and traditionalist breeder/owner/handlers are leaving AKC competition in search of more equitable venues like the UKC, where PH are excluded unless they are showing their own dogs. Until now, the UKC, International Dog shows, and our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, which hire the same AKC approved judges for their shows, have not been serious rivals to the AKC. These days, those who want Champion lines find puppies for sale with UKC, CKC, and International Dog Show Champion parents. The majority of the general public puppy buyers no longer care if their puppy’s parents are AKC Champions. As the breeders leave AKC competition, they don’t promote AKC Champions in their lines.

There was a time, not too long ago, when PH were primarily hired for the Best of Breed/Group rings, and a breeder/owner/handler who brought a quality dog to the ring was serious competition for the PH, even in the Group arena. Class competitors were, for the most part, equally unknown to the judges, and the dogs were typically judges on their own merits, not the handler on the end of the lead. Today, even with higher quality dogs, breeder/owner/handlers are, more often than not, simply point fodder for the PH. As the number of PH increased in the classes, breeder/owner/handlers have done the math and determined that competing against the familiar face that shows up at all the best dog shows in town, winning under the same judges, was financially unfeasible.

The AKC is feeling the financial strain as many exhibitors realize the futility of showing in an increasingly political playing field. New registrations in the AKC are declining with the number of breeder/owner/handlers leaving the show arena. Breed clubs are having difficulty breaking even financially with holding AKC breed shows because of the drop in exhibitors over the last several years. In addition, the AKC is moving in the wrong direction for their financial health by endorsing PH with badges they may wear in the ring to identify themselves to the judge.

The AKC and the conformation judges seem to think that throwing dedicated breeder/owner/handlers an occasional bone will keep them coming back for more. In their efforts to recover from the financial impact of the economy and decreasing entries and registrations, the AKC has exacerbated the problem by not supporting the breeder/owner/handlers, the faction that makes up most of the AKC’s entries and registrations. Instead, the AKC decided to even the playing field for more sport, by introducing the Amateur Owner Class.

What was the AKC thinking?  The AKC should have added a Professional Class instead of an Amateur Owner Class. In this scenario, PH would be restricted to the Professional class or the Best of Breed Class. The new playing field would consist of one PH in the Winners class competing against all the class winners that were chosen on their merits. For those judges who continued to judge the PH and reward presentation over merit, the records would reflect their preferences by the wins from the PH class, and then breeder/owner/handlers could choose which shows and judges were financially feasible to enter under instead of quitting over the politics.

And then comes another AKC bone to the breeder/owner/handler. If the breeder/owner/handler can’t compete with PH for Best of Breed, how about the “Grand Champion” (GCH) program, which generated a renewed income stream to the AKC, superintendents, and clubs. Exhibitors might compete for a GCH once, and some might compete for a GCH again, but eventually they wake up and wonder what a GCH title actually represents.  If a GCH can be awarded the title without ever winning Best of Breed, the GSC is a champion of whom? The GCH appears to be another meaningless title or gimmick for the AKC to fund it’s financial dilemma through the breeder/owner/handler. The latest AKC attempt to appease the breeder/owner/handler is the AKC National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS).  While potentially a good idea, the system is so confusing that after over two years of offering the series, show giving clubs are still struggling to administer it correctly, and many have decided to not even offer it at their shows. The AKC has promoted a national rating system for the NOHS, but since it is not being offered at all shows, it puts many breeder/owner/handlers who would like to compete nationally at a distinct disadvantage. To top it off, many PH (as defined by AKC) are still exhibiting in the series and the AKC expects the EXHIBITORS to police the series concerning these individuals.

Nothing that the AKC has presented to-date will have a lasting, positive impact on the sport as much as conformation judges doing an honest and unbiased evaluation in the ring. ALL exhibitors pay their hard-earned money for a judge’s unbiased opinion, and deserve nothing less. It is the judge’s responsibility to sift through the entry and select the best dog, not the best mannered, the best handled, or an old friend. The future of our AKC dogs is dependent on unbiased judging and honest evaluations based on the quality of our stock, not who is on the end of the lead.

Poor decisions by both the AKC and conformation judges are driving dedicated breeder/owner/handlers away from the sport in droves. Unless the AKC wakes up and becomes committed to creating an environment that supports the breeder/owner/handlers that generate most of the AKC registrations and entries, other venues such as the UKC will become a strong force as an alternative to the AKC. The AKC must realize that as breeder/owner/handlers disappear, so does the sport.

So, where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? So, where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? If the sport is to survive and thrive, major changes need to be made: not just bogus titles or another silly class that are nothing more than an insult to the intelligent, dedicated breeder/owner/handlers. The AKC has changed its philosophy and is allowing non-purebred dogs to compete in companion events. Perhaps it is time for the AKC to offer separate, independent, competitions (all-breed shows) for breeder/owner/handlers and PH. If it is not to late.

 

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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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Fewer conformation championships have been earned.

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Every year, fewer dogs are exhibited in conformation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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