As I get older I find myself relying on the milestones of life more. Personally, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays have taken on a new importance in my household. In the dog world, the first week of April marks the first 100 days of the show season, a logical point to pause and assess 2013’s campaign.
A few things stand out. First, the “January Jump” really didn’t emerge as a factor in this year’s race. In years gone by, the Palm Springs, Portland and Florida shows have provided springboards for the year’s Top Ten Dogs All Breeds. Our current leader, the Wire Fox Terrier, GCH CH AfterAll Painting the Sky, made the most of the weekend on the polo fields in Palm Springs, winning both of the all-breed shows as well as the two all-Terrier limited-breed shows. However, Sky would still be at the head of the pack this year had she skipped the outing. The Portland shows did showcase a new kid on the block, the Shetland Sheepdog, GCH CH PaRay Preferential, who won two of the four mega prizes, but the Sheltie’s debut was followed by a bout with a stomach bug that kept Satoshi out of the show ring for several weekends. Last year’s Number One Dog, the German Wirehaired Pointer, GCH CH Mt View’s Ripnsorter Silver Charm, did dominate the first leg of the Florida Marathon winning all four shows the opening week. Oakley is being shown on a limited basis this year, but still has managed 14 BIS thus far.
While the Westminster Kennel Club show is a perfect place for a dog to retire, we normally see several dogs catch the “Westminster Wave.” All of our Top Five Dogs scored either a Group One or Group Two at the Garden. March’s biggest stop was the Kentuckiana Cluster’s four all-breed shows in Louisville and the surprise winner coming out of the set was the Russell Terrier, GCH CH Goldsand’s Columbus, who not only took home the biggest single-day point total of the weekend, but did so by handing the Wire Fox, Sky, a rare Terrier Group loss.
And how about those points? Two things stand out this year. Can anyone catch the Wire? I haven’t logged this past weekend’s points yet, but Sky still remains better than 6,000 points ahead of the field. Last year at this time, fewer than 1,500 points separated the Top Two. A further review of last year’s number reveals that the GWP Oakley and the English Springer Spaniel, GCH CH Wynmoor Champagne Supernova, piled up more than 20,000 points on the early leader. Secondly, there are far fewer points this year than last. Entries continue to be down by around 18 percent. As a devotee of Mark Twain, I believe the reports of the death of our sport are greatly exaggerated. Without a doubt, high gas prices and the general economic malaise continue to take their toll on entries. However, I find that creative and energetic show committees are still capable of turning things around.
Finally, I am surprised to see no Standard Poodle in our Top Ten at this point in the season. The Standard Poodle has become a reliable Top Ten presence. Bottom line, it’s just the first 100 days. And that’s today’s Back Story.