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The Glitz and Glamour Of Dog Shows


Dishonor In The Dog Show Ring


I have witnessed and know of acts of cruelty to dogs AND to people in the show ring and the parking areas which are also part of the dog show grounds.


January 28, 2020

Sherry L. Shivley, Journalist Award Winner


When did a blue ribbon become more important than our personal honor? Yes, we feel disappointment when we don’t place as well as we had hoped but each dog show judge looks for something different in their ring. Some place a higher value on a head than gait or toplines. Some ignore growling or cowering, rewarding bad behavior in a “better dog” over an adjudged lesser-quality dog that stands politely.


Our Judges are aging, so that may have a bit to do with them not having the commanding presence they once had, or the good judgment. Or is it today’s dishonorable attitude of ‘give me the trophy whether I have earned it or not!


Whatever the issue is, it needs to be stopped. People are throwing temper tantrums in and outside of the ring, cursing, “acting out” and even calling other competitors foul names. This dishonorable behavior often extends to the exhibitor unloading and parking areas or even to restaurants where judges, handlers, or exhibitors gather for dinner. How does that look to the public?


It happened to a friend of mine who had traveled quite a long distance to attend a specialty show. A really rude woman began spouting foul language because she was not happy to see her and her very nice dogs there to compete. My friend has always been polite to that person and for this attack to be so public was shocking. Why wasn’t it reported to the show superintendent? I’m told a decade ago she could have been suspended.

I’ve read reports of Instant Information on ii Professional Handlers being asked to leave the ring or being ii AKC Suspended for using foul language both in and out of the show ring. Even in the parking lot, you are on the “show grounds” and subject to a ii Bench Committee if a complaint is filed. Any professional handler or seasoned exhibitor knows better. Remember, YOU are paying these people to represent you and your dog. If they are not conducting themselves in a way you can be proud of, move on!


Here is another example that is very close to home. I have a dear friend who had a dog that was dying. She is my handler, as well as handling for several others. She did not want to haul her very ill dog to shows yet was afraid to leave her home in case she worsened. She wanted to be home with her beloved dog but she had been told that other handlers had been fired in the same situation and that if she didn’t show up it would “break the majors” etc.


How can dog owners not show COMPASSION and understanding to a handler who is losing a beloved companion? How can it be all about that little piece of ribbon? The show world is becoming less about dogs and more about big business and the almighty WIN.


How many dogs have been sacrificed on the road day in and out, living in crates, never allowed to be dogs just to try to be #1 in the nation? That is dishonorable!


How does that affect a dog’s mental status? Their bone density, muscle mass and disposition? Dogs were not bred to live in a crate or inside a motorhome for days on end. They were born to be physically active (hunting, working, playing) for 10 to 12 hours every day. To force them to do otherwise is inhumane and giving fuel to animal rights activists. How can we dishonor the dogs we love and our own reputation?


The Bright Spot in all this are the Junior Handlers. They continue to show us how to behave, care for our dogs, and love unconditionally. They are the future of purebred dogs and I pray that they stay pure and untouched by the greed and ugliness they see in our dog show fancy today.


The American Kennel Club and all dog show Kennel Club officers must ensure that dog show exhibitors are rewarded for high standards, for honoring the sport, and for protecting the purebred dog for future generations.


{Ref #1} Professional Handlers listings in the Dog-e-Directory

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