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Dog Shows: The Sport That We Love – Past, Present & Future

Author’s Note: This article was originally written and published in 2008. I updated it in April 2020. It is still as relevant today as it was then.

By Louis Krokover

Over the past several months I have been asked questions and to write down my opinion on our sport. Looking back on my family’s history in our sport, this sport that I love so much, I have been pondering where the road will now take us. I was taught at a very young age that showing and racing horses was the sport of Kings and Queens and that this sport, our sport, is the sport of Princes, Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses.

This sport is for those who love the competition and challenge of producing a quality dog over others against the breed standard as set forth by our forefathers. I have learned that we not only strive for perfection in the breeds that we love and own but also strive to build a true and everlasting bond of friendship with our newly found friends and competitors – our family.

I have spent the past fifty-five years (I am now 67) enjoying our sport and those around us from all over the world and learning each and every time I attend a dog show or talk to another breeder.

With that being said, I have been looking at where the road was and is now taking us. (This still holds true even today.)

In the beginning, I can recall being told that entries were under $5 per dog; that there were no motor homes (it was more like camping out), gas was under a dollar per gallon, and there were no issues in acquiring a show site. We did not have dog shows every weekend and clusters were few and far between, but we did have good entries, and new friends to party with. It was like going over to visit family–that you just couldn’t wait to see–for the weekend. Everyone supported each other no matter what the outcome in their breed and no one left the show until it was over. We stood by our breed winner in the group and supported our group in Best In Show. Good times and good memories all around.

Today we see entries reaching up to $34 per dog and in some cases over $50 per entry. Gas is now over $4 per gallon with no end in sight, and we are losing our show grounds faster than you can count fleas. We now have multiple shows to choose from every weekend in our state–enough shows to fill a fifty-pound bag of dog food with one scoop. Competition is fierce today; more than I can ever recall.

But today’s competition is not about who has the better dog. It is just about the win and how many points did I get as I try to stay ahead of others in the points race. Also, no one parties like they used to or even stays to see what happens in the Groups and Best In Show. It is now, “I will stay as long as I win, or I am leaving as soon as I lose.” Seems that the fun is gone from our sport and I really don’t know why – except things like the cost of entries, fuel, parking fees, electrical hookups–and even judging panels–have caused entries to go on the decline with some shows not even able to get 600 dogs to show up.

We are losing our show facilities due to land use increasing for development, and the animal rights groups are striving to halt (muscle) our ability to produce a quality dog with a bevy of new laws.

Even getting judges is becoming harder and harder as we lose the foundation of those who have made a major contribution in our sport to educate those of us who plan to follow in their footsteps when the call goes out; if it ever goes out.

All of this leads to a negative impact on our sport and the lack of entries that allow us to keep having a show is not an easy road to travel. It is just business and nothing more. This is making all of us very uneasy about the future and almost impossible to produce a quality dog show and still have FUN.

So, what does the future hold for us?

First, we all need to understand that we have no control over fuel costs and that the required fees to put on a successful dog show are rising. That is Business 101. So, what can we do?

I feel we need to look outside the box of the past and set forth procedures to ensure that our sport will survive and not just become another lost memory of the way things used to be. Showgrounds need to either be secured under long-term contracts or purchased, if possible. Breed and All Breed Clubs need to band together to produce large clusters with specialties over a four- or even a five-day period so that costs can be more manageable. States may have to be limited as to how many shows can be held per month. This way we can hopefully stabilize and even increase the numbers of entries. Kennel clubs may have to look harder as they put together their judging panels with AKC support and direction.

We need to start using judges that never or rarely get the opportunity to judge so that our judging base has merit. There need to be more judges/breed education seminars and maybe even parent breed clubs need to review and revise their standards to fit what is in the ring today.

Like everything else, changes happen with time and we all need to keep up with the pace. In the end, there really is not just one solution to fit all. A piece here and a piece there may allow us to survive, but it will take a united front from all of us to make it work. The choice is yours.

Louis Krokover
Royal Kennels / Canyon Farms

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Posted by on Sep 20 2023. Filed under Current Articles, Featured, The Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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