I am a numbers nerd. I spent most of my professional life as a management analyst/consultant pouring over statistical data trying to interpret it. When I began writing the blog, Dog Show Poop, I fell back on my statistical background to support my dog show habit. In maintaining an up to date ranking of the top dogs, I began to question the whole concept. How do you judge who are the top players in the game?
Our current system is essentially a “shop till you drop” system. There are no limits on the number of shows that you can count toward you end of year point total. Type and soundness are not enough to wind under the current system. A dog must also have stamina and resources. The big advantage of the current system is that there are plenty of opportunities for the average person to participate. There are around 1500 all breed shows scattered around the US each year. Whether you want to try your hand as an exhibitor or just enjoy the dogs as a spectator, there will be a show near you this year.
But how should we measure the success of a dog. Most breeders swear by breed specialties. I have a reverence for the larger national specialties. I am in awe of the dog that can stand out in an entry of 500 dogs of the same breed. However, I am somewhat skeptical of the specialty winner that convinces one judge that he/she is the best of 15 dogs.
Some people, myself included, look at the dogs that do well at what I call the marquee shows, the large shows that year after year, draw the most competitive entries, Palm Springs, Portland, Louisville, etc. However, even I admit that one can be surprised at some of the small “boutique” shows. There was a 500 dog show in Mississippi a couple years ago that five of the Top Ten Dogs competed.
Finally there are the invitational shows, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and The Westminster Kennel Club. Many dog owners would rather have a Best In Show at Westminster than a Number One Dog All Breeds. But are there other ways to measure success?
How about combining all of the above? A kind of “Miss America” kind of competition. You know, so many points for the interview, so many points for the swim suit competition, so many points for talent, and a final show down to demonstrate you can think on your feet? How about regional awards for those who don’t have the stamina or resources to travel great distances? The Cat Fanciers Association has a very successful regional award program that could be adopted.
Whatever system the dog world adopts, I assure you that the question of who is the best dog out in any year will still be fervently debated at every gathering of dog show folk. And that’s today’s Back Story.