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August 6, 2013 | TheDogPress Club News
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Group Judge
Dog Club memberships are dwindling. Could club requirements be so strict that it drives people away? How many new show chairs fly by the seat of their pants? Do new people feel left out? Why don’t clubs make a list of necessary positions and expected duties? This article addresses these issues.
All dog clubs have “work horses’ and “race horses” but shows are possible due solely to a few dedicated work horses. They work all year long and whether for meetings or on their show dates, they come early and stay late. The “race horses’ show up late, often criticize, show dogs, and usually leave before Groups.
Today it’s more economical to form a dog show cluster but important that each show maintains its identity. Before the show, elected club members meet with members of a participating dog club to discuss judging panels, costs, division of money, booth rental, clean up, ring stewarding, and concessions. Discuss a theme or special service to trademark your club. Utilize a member’s marketing, art or design skills!
What is the responsibility of a club member? Attend meetings. Clubs elect a President, and Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Regarding the Treasurer, AKC suggests checks be signed by two parties. Perhaps a club credit card is in order. Insist on a complete Treasure’s report at each meeting. Clubs need a breed education chairman, program chairman, and refreshment chairman. There is a Board of Directors and Judge’s Selection Committee which should periodically change. The AKC gives guidance regarding a club Constitution upon request.
For shows, a trophy solicitation chairman is required. The club needs a transportation chairman to make sure judges get to and from the airport. (Bless those with signs). They check judges into the hotel in a timely manner and determine payment. A person meets judges in the lobby in the morning for transportation to the show. A judge’s luncheon chairman is responsible for the caterer for the weekend. There will be a person for catalog sales and another to handle gate fees for observers...
The same can be said for field trial judges (who work harder than anyone whether on foot or horseback), Agility, Barn Hunts or the less glamorous but vitally important Obedience judges.
The secretary works closely with the AKC regarding dates, locations, and other issues. A new show sight must be reviewed and approved by an American Kennel Club Representative due to specific requirements regarding the show. A show chairman is elected. Many clubs hire professional ring stewards. Others hire Boy scouts or other organizations for clean up. The show chair person must continually be on watch for infringements of the rules and regulations.
Before the show, members may need to meet and prepare the building for the exhibitors. They will mark off grooming areas and parking areas. Often walls must be covered with plastic and mark areas for vendors and grooming. Restrooms must be under constant surveillance to insure necessary items are available.
After the show, there is ground cleanup. All members must participate. This assures the venue may be available for another time. During the show, the show chairman moves ring to ring to insure the judges have what they need and to substitute as ring steward when another leaves for a bathroom break. They make sure the rings run smoothly. In case a judge doesn’t show, the show chair works with the AKC rep. regarding judge replacement. Actually, the show chair oversees the entire event to insure everything runs smoothly and rules are followed. Seats should be placed ringside at Groups for judges.
Once a member steps forward and assumes responsibility, FOLLOW THROUGH. Putting on a successful dog show is no small feat! It is imperative the judge’s selection person train another for their position and keep them up to the minute regarding judge’s contact and contracts. Make sure all judges are comfortable and in the right place at the right time. Keep aisles and fire lanes open. Exhibitors MUST NOT violate areas marked off by the building officials.
Some clubs have a monthly newspaper. The editor prints brags and upcoming issues and classes. All dog clubs need a membership chairman. If a club offers agility, obedience, and conformation classes, more chair persons are required. Often older members are hesitant to relinquish duties to a younger member for one reason or another, but newcomers “learn by doing.” Written instructions cannot compare to actually performing the duties while under the guidance of an experienced member.
One reason dog club memberships are shrinking all the time is that many exhibitors “show and go” missing out on the Group rings, which is where one develops an “eye”. Some exhibitors say they are too busy to stay, but so are the people who made the event possible for them.
In case of a Bench Show Committee, where something has gone wrong, club members become involved. This is a meeting of host club officers, the AKC rep, and the person who is charged with a violation or bad behavior. We hope this doesn’t happen but if it does, there is a “crash course” and rule book instructions.
Location is everything for a dog club, not just for meetings but for routine maintenance and planning. Some clubs had the foresight and ability to purchase land for their shows and club houses, but they rent the facility out for other uses and thus, show a profit.
If you are a newcomer, check into your local and national breed clubs and develop an understanding of the true meaning of “dog shows”. You will make friends and you may enjoy becoming involved. There is a wealth of information to be harvested and in turn, you have skills and knowledge to share by becoming a dog club member. Be an asset to your club and to the sport of dogs. In this way we can insure the sport will live far into the future.
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