In early November of 2012, American judge Bob Busby arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, to judge the all-breed dog show of the Jamaica Kennel Club. It was an experience, he says, unlike any he has had in his more than four decades in dogs, one that left him with a deep appreciation for the enthusiasm with which the people in this Caribbean island nation approach the sport of showing dogs.
A developing country slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, Jamaica is home to more than 2.6 million people. The island nation shares many characteristics with the United States: English is the country’s official language, and the majority of its citizens are Christian. Thanks to its average temperatures of 77 degrees F in winter months and 82 degrees in summer, coupled with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear ocean water, tourism is one of Jamaica’s two primary industries, with mining as the second. The locals are friendly and welcoming to tourists, and the laid-back atmosphere of the island attracts more than a million tourists each year.
The November 4 dog show included 155 conformation entries in nine breeds: 63 Rottweilers, 57 German Shepherd Dogs, 22 Doberman Pinschers, six Shih Tzu, three Pembroke Welsh Corgis and one each Labrador Retriever, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Japanese Akita and Yorkshire Terrier. Many of the Rottweilers, Dobes and Shepherds serve a dual purpose for their owners, acting as guard dogs as well as show dogs.
The show was held outdoors at the Jamaica Hockey Federation Grounds, a beautifully manicured field in Kingston. Pedigree Dog Food was the show’s primary sponsor, as evidenced by a wealth of yellow and blue banners on the tents and fences, along with many show officials and exhibitors wearing Pedigree T-shirts.
Three local businesses, Noah’s Ark Veterinary Centre, Animalcare Veterinary Hospital and Vanguard Security Limited, co-sponsored the show. There was also an obedience trial on the grounds, and Pedigree sponsored training demonstrations and other events as well.
Joe Auxilly, Anthony Rothery and Damian Yap were the show committee for this event, and Joe was Bob’s host while he was in Jamaica. Ring steward Michael Bellamy kept everything running smoothly in the ring throughout the day, and Bob commented more than once about the friendliness of everyone he met and the spirit of sportsmanship from all of the exhibitors, win or lose. The reggae music playing throughout the show lent a festive air to the day.
The Jamaican system works similarly to that in the U.K. Classes available are Puppy, for dogs 6 months to 12 months of age; Graduate, for dogs that have not won a challenge certificate, reserve challenge certificate, or three or more first placements at a recognized championship show in Jamaica or abroad, unless in the Puppy class; Open, for dogs that have not accumulated 15 points “inclusive of a challenge certificate”; and the Challenge class, for JKC-registered champions. Dogs may be entered in more than one class.
Each class is judged and placed first through fourth. The judge has the option to award a challenge certificate, or not, from among the first place class winners in each sex of each breed. A Best of Breed winner and Best of Opposite Sex winner are also chosen in each breed, whether or not CCs are awarded.
When breed judging is completed, the Honours classes begin. These include Best in Show, Reserve BIS, Best of Opposite Sex to BIS, Best Locally Bred, BOS to Best Locally Bred, Best Imported, BOS to Best Imported, Best Puppy in Show, BOS to Best Puppy, Best Handler in Show and Best Small Breed. Bob also selected Best Rottweiler and Best Rottweiler Puppy in Show; Best German Shepherd and German Shepherd Puppy in Show; and Best Doberman Pinscher, BOS Doberman Pinscher and Best Dobe Puppy in Show. The breeders of Best Locally Bred Dog in Show and Best Doberman Pinscher in Show were also recognized at this event.
In the JKC show catalog, the addresses listed are for the dogs’ breeders, rather than the owners as we are accustomed to in the United States. Of the 155 dogs entered, 14 German Shepherds and two Corgis were bred in the U.K. The rest of the dogs were Jamaican-bred, the majority of them in Kingston.
The bitch that was Best in Show, German Shepherd import Ch. Conbhairean Usi at Frienden, was also the winner of the JKC show in September 2011. Also Best Import and Best German Shepherd in Show, she is owned by Mark Azan and bred by Heather MacDonald and David Greer. Conbhairean Kennel was the top-winning GSD kennel in the U.K. in 2007, 2011 and 2012, and runner-up to top kennel in 2010, based on the Our Dogstop kennel competition. MacDonald and Greer happened to be on holiday in Jamaica during the show, so were present to see Usi go Best in Show.
The Best Locally Bred Dog and Reserve Best in Show was Labrador Retriever Ch. Bromley Donatello of Laujon. The chocolate dog was bred by Ian and Suzanne Banks of St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, and is owned by Linda Fesar.
Many more photos from the November show can be found on the Jamaica Kennel Club Facebook page, and below, with additional Honours class and Best of Breed results.