On July 3, 2012, AKC will institute a Reserve Best in Show award. I applaud this. It appeals to my sense of order. In fact, I would like to see all the finalists ranked one through seven. One would think that after 14 seasons of “Dancing With the Stars” and 11 sets of “American Idol” contestants that this would be a natural evolution of the dog game.

However, this is seriously a big deal. To go to a show and do better than any other dog save one is an important distinction. My question is how do we note the accomplishment. My understanding is that there will be no additional points awarded to the reserve dog beyond those earned by the Group One award.  Now this seems counter-intuitive. I don’t think the Reserve BIS should get one less point than the BIS, but I do think the runner-up should get more points than the five dogs he beat.

Our system already is skewed to favor the Sporting, Working & Toy Groups. The winners of those groups take home, on the average, anywhere from 50 to 200 percent more points than do the winners of the Hound, Terrier, Non-Sporting & Herding Groups. It is true that the Golden Retriever or the Doberman Pinscher may have to fight its way out of a breed with 50-plus entries, but the Clumber Spaniel and the Giant Schnauzer may make it into the group ring uncontested. Why should the Terrier that goes Reserve BIS get fewer points than the Sporting Group Three?

This disparity could be even more pronounced should additional group placements be instituted for larger shows. I have long been an advocate of finding creative ways to recognize achievement in the dog game to encourage participation. However, the recognition has to mean something. As I said, this Reserve BIS thing is a really big deal (maybe even bigger than a Joe Biden BFD), but it will soon loose its appeal if dogs consistently finishing lower at the shows end up higher in the rankings. And that’s today’s Back Story.