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Death by a Thousand Cuts

by Lee Connor

One question that is regularly asked in Dogdom is ‘How can we attract more people to our ranks?’ and it is a very important question for any hobby. In fact, for the health and continuation of our sport it is vital that we continue to attract new blood and it appears to be a problem that is facing most of the world’s kennel clubs. One of the best things about the internet is having ‘doggy’ friends all around the globe and one interesting thing that keeps coming up in online discussions are the very similar problems that challenge us all.

Recently the UK Kennel Club announced that a reduction in breed clubs (through amalgamation) could possibly lead to higher show entries. I can see where those who propose such a move are coming from but sadly, once again, I think they are missing the point.

Show entries and exhibitor numbers are falling (and have been falling for a number of years) for several reasons and knowledgeable voices of reason within the dog world have answered the question of showgoers deserting their passion in droves but sadly their responses have, on the whole, appeared to have been largely ignored by the Kennel Club.

And this dismissiveness from the ‘elite’ is the key to a whole raft of problems that we now face. I will give you an example of what I am talking about. We have a large show here in England that is held in the Southwest in August – a traditionally ‘hot’ month for England at any rate! For the past few years it has been blessed with hot, sunny conditions, which of course is lovely for the exhibitor but not always so welcomed by our dogs. Again and again exhibitors at this show have warned about the dangers of a lack of ‘all-weather tenting’ that would help to provide much-needed shade at this exposed site. But were these fears listened to? Had any lessons been learned from the few last years? We turned up at this show this year with our Bostons and once again found exhibitors and their dogs standing around, waiting to go into the ring, in sweltering hot conditions with no access to cooling shade. As we all know, this isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be very dangerous for our canine companions, and next year we will vote with our feet and simply won’t bother entering this show again. And this is what is happening up and down the country.

I haven’t even touched upon the increasing amount of money it costs to show your dog. Of course, I appreciate that venues have overhead costs but I just can’t understand the disparity; how can some of our very best shows here in the UK, the likes of Southern Counties, Paignton and Bath manage to offer excellent value for the money and a wonderful exhibitor/dog experience whilst others fall way short and think that it’s quite acceptable to charge the show goer £10 to park their car in a muddy field in addition to some of the highest entry fees in the championship show calendar? The exhibitor ‘cash cow’ can only be milked so much! In these increasingly cash-strapped times a growing number of people (who feel that their voices and opinions aren’t being listened to and who, in a number of cases, feel that they just aren’t getting value for money), when they continue to have negative experience after negative experience, are quite understandably simply just throwing in the towel.

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Posted by on May 30 2023. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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