Never before has the European Winner Show had so much bad luck. I still remember the sight of Petru Muntean, vice president of the Romanian Kennel Club, jumping for joy next to Christian Stefanescu, president, when the FCI flag was handed over to them in 2011 in Leeuwarden. But then, when the August 31 deadline to enter arrived, they counted only 2,237 dogs, while 12,000 to 15,000 were expected. The committee was desperate, started to cancel a lot of judges and postponed the entry date until September 11, closing with 6,157 dogs. What happened?

Romexpo in Bucharest, Romania, site of the Euro Dog Show 2012. Photo by Karl Donvil.

Romania is a beautiful country, but many people consider it unsafe and primitive with bad roads and corruption everywhere. As if this weren’t enough, an unfair campaign started against the show in regard to the way street dogs are treated in the country. More gossip was spread via Facebook, and photos of judges taken during the Black Sea Winner shows were posted to discredit them. The storm was heavy, very heavy, but first of all very unfair. Bucharest is a modern city, with many nice, new buildings, and it is no more unsafe than any other big city. It is rather hip and young, and it was nice wandering in the streets. And yes, there were street dogs, though not as many as I have seen in Argentina, and they all had a yellow badge in the ear, which means they had been sterilized.

Interior view of the Group ring at Romexpo. Photo by Karl Donvil.

During the days of dictator Caucescu, a lot of Romanian villages were abandoned and destroyed, forcing their inhabitants to move to the cities. Most of the dogs in the villages were left behind and started to become a big problem. What happens when poor people want to solve this problem? They don’t put them into shelters as this is expensive, and they don’t have money to pay vets to euthanize them, let alone sterilize them. They use methods that look very cruel in our eyes, but that are as old as history itself. Those methods are no more cruel than the killing of sheep, cows, chicken, pigs. Romania is not the only country in the world where these things happen. What about Spain and its Galgos? What about China and Korea? A boycott for this reason is unfair.

Some of Bucharest’s resident street dogs follow a woman in the capital city. Photo by Karl Donvil.

What I consider one of the main problems is Facebook. Too many judges are on Facebook, chatting with “friends” and trying to be nice to them. But this works in two ways. It pleases the so-called “friends,” but creates the impression that entering your dog under a judge who has many “Facebook friends” is a waste of money, and suggests “soft” corruption.

The Parliament House is one of Bucharest’s many architectural gems. Photo by Karl Donvil.

Facebook is also not the place to make official announcements or counter rumors about canceling a show. It becomes too personal. The only way to make any announcements is via the official website, not Facebook. At a certain moment, the rumor was spread via Facebook that the whole show was canceled. Instead of double-checking it with the organizers, the whole discussion ran out of hand. Organizers and exhibitors need to use the official website to communicate.

A group of men in traditional garb celebrate with one of their canine countrymen. Photo by Karl Donvil.

How bad was Romania then? It was not bad at all.

On the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised in many ways. Notwithstanding all the problems the committee had to face, the organizers did a fantastic job. It was amazing to see that they were able to turn this show around. Only the small rings betrayed that we were dealing with a low budget show. I questioned several exhibitors, but they were all very enthusiastic. Expressions like “nice people, great show, friendly atmosphere, efficient, friendly security, nice country, great trip, terrific showground” were common. I found no complaints, not even from exhibitors from the USA and the U.K., who are used to other criteria.

Costumed entertainers perform a traditional Romanian dance for the spectators. Photo by Karl Donvil.

The showground was located on the outskirts of the city, easily accessible and with plenty of parking. A kind of boulevard led to the circular arena that dominated the area. It was an impressive sight. Due to the halving of the number of expected dogs, only three halls were used. Inside, the rings were only 12-by-12 meters and for some breeds, very small. Nonetheless, each hall had a grooming area. And even if one knows that there is lack of space, some handlers manage to reserve plenty of space, fencing themselves in and not caring about other people, visitors and dogs.

The exterior of Romexpo against the modern Bucharest skyline. Photo by Karl Donvil.

Outside on the boulevard, locals rented stands, creating a kind of marketplace with local goods, such as knitwear, food and woodcraft. In the middle of the boulevard were some big outdoor rings. Fortunately, there was plenty of sunshine. It was warm, but pleasant and bearable due to the dry air. These rings were reserved for the German Shepherds and the Caucasian and local shepherd breeds.

The arena had three floors. The ground floor was for the main ring and the demonstrations, the collecting ring and the preparing area. On the first and second floors were all the trade stands, kennel clubs and breed clubs. Nothing was located too far apart.

Best Junior under Mr. Tamas Jakkel of Hungary was awarded to the Rabbit Smooth Dachshund Formula Uspeha Colibri, bred and owned by Irina Hapaeva. Photo by Karl Donvil.

Prior to the European Dog Show, Romania hosted several shows, including the famous Dracula Show the weekend before.

Thursday was the first show in Bucharest, the Bucharest Winner & Interra Show, good for about 2,500 entries. Judging during the day was completely scheduled, and it ended all well in time. But for the main ring, knowing that all 10 Groups, puppies, juniors, etc., had to pass the review, it was no wonder that the show finished very late.

Friday, the first day of the European, was also a busy day as there were four Groups to judge: 3, 4, 5 and 7. Every day the main ring was themed. On Friday, it was the Roman era. Five girls and two boys, all models, I suppose, were dressed in Roman tunics. Saturday was devoted to the Roaring Twenties when Bucharest was called “Little Paris of the East“ and had one the finest periods in its history. On Sunday, the female models were dressed modernly, while the boys had local clothes on.

The theme for Friday’s show was the Roman era, as demonstrated by a group of young Romanians in tunics. Photo by Karl Donvil.

The light in the main ring was nice, but could have been a little brighter during the judging. Dimming the lights when the judge is introduced and when the dogs come in is always nice, but once the judging starts, it is better to have a bright view.

The podium was more than correct with dogs on the floor and only trophy and flowers on a stand. The evening program was well attended, especially on Saturday and surely on Sunday. Saturday judging ran late again. Now Groups 2, 6 and 10 were on, while on Sunday we had Groups 1, 8 and 9, plus the finals. Former Eastern block countries have a different protocol from Western European countries. Speeches were not too long, but any reason brought another speech, taking up at least an hour per day. This explains why every show ended way off schedule. But it is with pleasure that I forgive them, as they wanted to counter the injustice that was done to them, emphasizing that their intentions were right with regard to the problem of the street dogs.

Best in Show at Bucharest, the Lhasa Apso Zentarr Morgan. Photo by Karl Donvil.

The Romanian Kennel Club is helping to set up a national sterilizing program for street dogs by co-financing a mobile veterinary hospital. It is always better to solve a problem from inside as this has a better and more stable result in the long term. Dog shows are one way to teach people, to instruct them and to show that our world is more beautiful in the company of healthy and happy dogs.

As could be expected, most dogs were entered from Russia with 1,819 dogs, followed by Romania with 1,183. I had expected many more dogs from Hungary, but only 378 turned up, fewer than from Ukraine with 436. Italy, where a big part of the rumors originated, also had 378 entries. Great Britain had 22; Mexico, 11; and Chile, three, the same as Indonesia, Korea, San Marino and the U.S.A. There were even four dogs entered from Egypt. Columbia had two dogs entered. Azerbaijan, Canada, China and Puerto Rico each had one dog entered. Absolutely worth mentioning are the 16 entries from Thailand. In total, 52 countries were represented.

Best in Show under Mr. Petru Muntean of Romania was awarded to the Lhasa Apso Zentarr Morgan, owned by Mr. Stefano Paolantoni and M.D. Anderson. Photo by Karl Donvil.

Only about half the number of judges that were initially planned officiated. It must have been a nightmare to reschedule them all only a few weeks before the show would take place, then face all the questions and frustration of exhibitors who suddenly had someone else to judge their breed. Fortunately, I heard no serious complaints about this, as if everyone understood the problems and empathized with the Romanian Kennel Club.

Second place BIS went to the Afghan Hound Oudry Gandamak, bred by Vlastislav Vojtek and Petra Vojtekova of Slovakia, and owned by Csilla Bakos of Hungary. Photo by Karl Donvil.

The honor to judge Best in Show was granted to vice president Petru Muntean, and I can assure you that he was looking forward to this. He had some very good dogs from all over Europe. His number three was the Flat-Coated Retriever Win-A-Latte, bred and owned by Carina Östman Borlänge from Sweden. Mrs. Van Brempt from Belgium had judged the breed earlier that day and chose him out of 20 competitors. Mr. Andras Korozs from Hungary made him Best of Group. Mr. Paul Stanton from Sweden had judged the Afghan Hounds during the day and chose Oudry Gandamak from the 39 Afghans present. Mr. Gerard Jipping from Holland gave the ticket for the finals when judging the Group. Oudry ended Reserve BIS. He is proudly owned by Csilla Bakos from Hungary.

Third place BIS was the Flat-Coated Retriever Win-A-Latte, bred and owned by Carina Östman Borlänge from Sweden. Photo by Karl Donvil.

I think it is the very first time that a dog from the United Kingdom was chosen BIS at an FCI European or World Show. Zentarr Morgan made history. This Lhasa Apso was the breed choice of Mrs. Yolanda Nagler from Israel, who had 29 in her ring, and of the Group 9 judge, Mr. Francesco Cochetti from Italy.

Zentarr Morgan is co-owned by Stefano Paolantoni from Italy and M.D. Anderson from the United Kingdom.

The Best in Show winning Lhasa Apso Zentarr Morgan celebrates with friends. Photo by Karl Donvil.

The Bucharest European Dog Show 2012 will enter history as a show of extremes. Notwithstanding all the bad publicity the committee had to face, they had the courage to go on and show the world that challenging them had no lasting effect. Those who came over to show in Bucharest returned home happy and probably satisfied too. Romania is a beautiful country, has great hospitality, a safe capital, nice people and a heart for dogs.

The future of the Romanian street dogs looks a little brighter after the show. The intention of the Romanian Kennel Club was sincere. They will fight the bad reputation with regard to their street dogs and teach their people about the many benefits they can receive from their dogs, as well as how to treat them and care for them. That way is long and not easy, but it is also the way to follow for many other countries too. Instead of opposing them, let’s stand with them and grant them a fair chance to prove that they can manage it. This European Dog Show is a fine start for this; they can really be proud.

A complete listing of Group winners appears below.

Karl Donvil lives in Belgium, where he is a freelance photographer and reporter specializing in dogs. He founded the World Dog Press Association in 2001 and is the current CEO. He is a member of the editorial board of the FCI newsletter and covers shows throughout Europe, including Crufts and the World Dog Show.

Main Ring Results – Bucharest, European Dog Show 2012

Group 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs, except Swiss Cattle Dogs

Judge Barbara Müller, Switzerland

1st: Old English Sheepdog Bottom Shaker My Secret, owned by Jozsef Koroknai

2nd: Bouvier des Flandres Grey Tetis Corage, owned by Galina Kalinichenko

3rd: Australian Shepherd Stonehaven Bayshore Secret Strike, owned by Zuzana Hodová and Linda Hodová

Group 2 – Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids and Swiss Mountain Dogs

Judge Papp Vasile-Carol, Romania

1st: Black Russian Terrier Oskar Yablunevyi Tsvit, owned by Irina Yablonka

2nd: Boxer Mayday Di Casa Vernice, owned by Shamil Abrakimov

3rd: Dogo Argentino Opium Iz Lunnoy Stai, owned by Marina Rusakova

Group 3 – Terrier

Judge Ron Menaker, U.S.A.

1st: Kerry Blue Terrier Rollick’s Super Hero, owned by Ivana Bilic and Igor Mioc

2nd: Scottish Terrier Filisite Brash Celebration, owned by Valentina Popova

3rd: Skye Terrier Finnsky Momentous, owned by Elizabeth Stewart

Group 4 – Dachshunds

Judge Stefan Sinko, Slovakia

1st: Standard Wirehaired Dachshund Magicaromad, owned by Rita Dahl and Atle Aspevik

2nd: Rabbit Smooth Dachshund Formula Uspeha Colibri, owned by Irina Hapaeva

3rd: Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund Bauchal’s Patas Arriba, owned by Lucia Terruzzi

Group 5 – Spitz and Primitive Types

Judge Claudio De Guiliani, Italy

1st: Pharaoh Hound Reedly Road Illuminated, owned by Maria Evteeva

2nd: Shiba Inu Handzimemesite Urusey Yatsura, owned by T. Kulakhmetieva and A. Kurenkova and E. Zakamskaja

3rd: Pomeranian Grand Iz Ruzy Hanna Montana, owned by Liya Emelianova

Group 6 – Scenthounds

Judge Hans Van der Berg, Netherlands

1st: Basset Hound Bassjoy Crazy Night, owned by Mariano Galan

2nd: Finnish Hound Halla-Aamun Alexandra, owned by Tanja Kiriloff

3rd: Rhodesian Ridgeback Faira Arif Kamilifu, owned by Olga Syalmova

Group 7 – Pointers and Setters

Judge Miguel Angel Martinez, Argentina

1st: Pointer Weimpoint Keep Smilin, owned by Edwin and Kristina Lenaerts

2nd: Irish Setter Applegrove Bechamel, owned by Igor Truscov and Maria Kanigina

3rd: Bracco Italiano Ciclone, owned by Gianni Guffanti

Group 8 – Retrievers, Flushing Dogs and Water Dogs

Judge Korozs Andras, Hungary

1st: Flat-Coated Retriever Caci’s Win-A-Latte, owned by Carina Östman Borlänge

2nd: English Cocker Spaniel Bachelor of Black Mirage, owned by Attila Aron Czegledi

3rd: Portuguese Water Dog Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Do Sol Da Laurota, owned by Laura Brown

Group 9 – Companion and Toy Dogs

Judge Francesco Cochetti, Italy

1st: Lhasa Apso Zentarr Morgan, owned by Stefano Paolantoni and M D Anderson

2nd: Pug Rose’s Knockdown Eight Count, owned by Theerawut Phaprasrisulee

3rd: French Bulldog A’Vigdors Ramasseur Des Compliments, owned by A. Nikulina

Group 10 – Sighthounds

Judge Gerard Jipping, Netherlands

1st: Afghan Hound Oudry Gandamak, owned by Csilla Bakos

2nd: Saluki Azhara Al Zahra, owned by Petra Pudova

3rd: Italian Greyhound Valerio Dei Raggi Di Luna, owned by Gaetano Caldarone