I am settling back into my routine after last weekend’s Terrier tour through the Philadelphia suburbs. Now that I am caught up on my show reports on Dog Show Poop, I can take a moment to reflect on my impression about the week.
The annual Terrier migration to Pennsylvania has slowed somewhat over the years. Entries are down more than 25 percent over the last five years. While the sport overall is faced with many challenges, this decline at the Montgomery County Kennel Club weekend is especially distressing. This weekend is unique in the dog world. No other group has a weeklong celebration to compare. Some of the root causes are beyond our control. The bad economy has slowed participation in all hobbies. Rising gas prices have kept exhibitors close to home and reduced the number of times they ventured out. However, one cause of the reduced entries is within our control.
Many exhibitors no longer feel an obligation to support the marquee events of our sport. There was a time that every serious Terrier breeder within a tank of gas of Philadelphia would be at Montgomery County. Yet there were several breeds at this year’s events that had embarrassingly small entries. As I compiled my show reports this week, I noticed that there were Terriers owners who traveled to shows twice the distance from their home that they would have driven if they opted to attend Montgomery County. What could be the rationale for going out of your way to avoid the most prestigious event a Terrier can enter?
Some of the twits on Twitter suggested that the judging was fixed. Well, here’s my attitude on that: you don’t go to Montgomery County because you think you are going to win. It would be either extraordinary optimism or arrogance to take such a position. You go to Montgomery County to be seen. It’s rare to get as Terrier knowledgeable and influential a gallery as you do there. As I was awaiting my plane in Philadelphia on Monday, I sat with three very experienced Terrier people who had been at the show. All three were enthusiastic about their breed winner, but they were discussing the dogs that had not won and the admirable features of each.
I also think that any serious breeder should try to attend their parent club’s national specialty, the AKC/Eukanuaba National Championship and the Westminster Kennel Club show. I understand when personal circumstances prevent one from traveling to these events, but I cannot understand not participating because you don’t want to lose. Further, the public comes to these shows to see what the fancy is all about. It is incumbent upon all who love the sport to preserve these showcases. You would think that every competitive dog person would want their dog held up to the public as a representative of their breed. Why would you lose that opportunity because you thought you probably wouldn’t win?
I hope to be at Montgomery County again next year, and I hope to see the slide in entries reversed. Our dog world would be a much sadder place if we let this unique venue slip away from us. And that’s today’s Back Story.