Wednesday, April 28, 2010


From time to time, we like to take advantage of our audience and pull out the soap box. We like to see our role as cheer leader in chief for our sport. We don’t see much to be gained by emphasizing the negative. We try to write so both the experienced exhibitor and the newby can enjoy the blog, maybe even the professional. However, the focus is the promotion of the sport of AKC conformation shows.

We have a laissez faire attitude toward comments on the blog. For the most part, we let our readers express themselves without interference. However, one recent thread threatens to spin out of control and distract from our basic purpose. Regarding the practice of flying dogs from one area to another seeking the most advantageous show environment, we have these observations:
  • It is far less frequent than one might think, You may not drive 800 miles in one day to compete, but many of our professionals and serious exhibitors do. If a dog gets on a plane five times in 200 shows, we don’t see that as extraordinary. The fact of the matter is we see far less frequent flyers this season than in the past decade. Not surprising, given the difficulty in flying these days.
  • Thank goodness that the owners of our top dogs do campaign them across the country. Those of us who do not live along I-95 or I-5 might never get to see our top 25 otherwise. Despite the fact that we encourage our readers every week to get out to a show, too few do. We will even get on a plane from time to time to go to where the good ones are just so we can tell our friends, “We saw that one in the flesh. She’s beautiful.“
  • People with money have an advantage. No kidding? Worse yet, they also have great dogs, perfectly presented by talented people. Despite the fact that we are 5’8”, when we were younger we played basketball. We never thought we would one day play for the Boston Celtics, but we loved the game. We don’t care if our dog wins at a show, just that we get to show our fellow exhibitors the best we had.
  • Do we think the ranking system needs to be overhauled? Yep. That’s why we created our own. We would love it if AKC would develop a system that encourage more participation.?Sure. Maybe a limit on shows counted or regional titles? But until then, we can’t be critical of the exhibitors that play the game well under the current rules.
Finally, our host, Google, lists comments posted by non-Google members as anonymous. We encourage those people to include their names within the comment. We think it’s just good manners.


  1. Billy - Thank you for giving us an outlet to share these thoughts. I think you are right-on that there are a lot of challenges with the current system, and it would be GREAT if the system was revamped - but I think the focus should be put on the magazines as they are the ones that actually publish the statistics. I wholeheartedly agree with Lori Wilson, a good handler/owner will KNOW if the dog is dealing with the travel and what works best for their animal. Winning and large sums of money do seem to go hand-in-hand, however, it would be beneficial to keep in mind that the purpose of dog shows was to assist breeders is evaluating breeding stock. I continually say to myself after a show, "Am I still pleased to take my dog home? Did I see something here that could benefit my breeding program?" It helps me keep an objective mindset. When I choose to campaign a dog, the reasoning isn't because I want to win (although that is always nice), my purpose is to show the dog world (spectators/breeders/owners/handlers and judges) what I think is an excellent specimen of the breed, that I believe they should have the opportunity to see. And with that in mind, if a class dog beats a special - then hopefully it is an indication the breeders are producing better specimens.

    Just my 2-cents!

    Maggie Peat
    Pramada Kennels

  2. Wher are we showing at this weekend????????

  3. I've read the posts you were referring to, and I think you're right that it's spiraling out of control. It's completely unfair to target Amy Booth.

    That said, I do think the current situation is nuts. People racing all over the country, leaving as big a carbon footprint as possible, advertising like crazy in all the dog magazines. And I think that you, Billy, inadvertently triggered some of the backlash by calling Dodger's globe-trotting "impressive." I don't find it impressive, I find it a bit sad. This is not a slap at the Booths. They are playing the game to the best of their abilities. It's the game that's gotten twisted.

    Patty H.

  4. Patty, while I agree that I may have inadvertently precipitated this thread by noting that Amy & Dodger had traveled 1200 miles from Indiana to Texas, I did not say I was impressed with the travel. I said I was impressed with the winning, twice as many BIS as anyone else.

  5. Ah yes, but the winning and the travel are completely intertwined!

  6. I think this is a great place to discuss this aspect of our sport. As many have said those of us that are flying, going to small shows, multiple cities in the same weekend....we are simply playing by the rules and format we are given.
    with that said why don't the people( me included ) that dont like the flying, top dogs at small shows, etc. come up with a better way! I think limiting shows is the answer. I have thought about this for a few years now, discussed it with many people and actually think it's a workable plan. To go into detail here would take way to much single finger typing for me... If anyone would like to discuss it feel free to contact me directly. Yes it would be very different but new or different is not always bad in the end.

  7. I completely agree with Phil!
    Patty H

  8. Looks like there are a lot of top dogs all over the country already this week. Did they fly or drive? Not sure but there was some big time traveling going on and its just Friday. I see the shows for the past 2 days are smaller than 500 too! I looked into it and heard Amy and Dodger were in MI at an all Terrier show an hour from their house!!! Proves the point that they should not be singled out, they are not the only ones traveling and this weekend they are at shows close to their home. I agree with Phil, all of them are just playing by the current rules of keeping their dogs top ranked!

  9. I guess I would have a problem if dogs flew in order to get a win because they couldn't any other way. But the dogs with large numbers of Best in Shows obviously can win wherever they are. I agree with Billy. I don't get to travel much as I am getting old and I enjoy getting a chance to see dogs in the flesh when they come to my area. And those of us affiliated with small shows generally like when top ranked dogs come to our shows. They get attention in local newspapers and only help the economy.

    Sharon T

  10. I also have to agree with Phil. And I feel Amy should not br singled out.

    Dog shows are no different than any other sport. You go for the gold at every chance you have.

    For an owner or handler to do any less just removes some of the top dogs from their breed and down the road affects breeding for the best the breed has to offer no matter what breed it is.

    What is the point of having a great specimen then hiding it in the corner. This would not work for me.

  11. Dear Mr.Wheeler,
    If it weren't for your site, I would be left almost completely in the dark on the latest happenings in the beloved dog show world due to being deployed to Iraq. I can't thank you enough for your countless show by show posts and correlating pictures to give me the glimpse I would never get of the greats. I count down to the day when I can regain the abilty to travel on my own terms to the dog shows of my choice, but until then, every update from you is GREATLY appreciated.

    I have enjoyed seeing Amy and Dodger in person before, and I can see they make a beautiful team. I find it almost impossible to picture dog with a true disdain for the show world (and EVERYTHING that comes with it) making it to the top like they have, and all those before them. It is with this that I believe this dog loves what he does and who he does it with.

    I wish people wouldn't take so much for granted. Getting to see more than the just the local specimens of the breeds we love is imparitive to our sport's future. Not everyone can make it to thier respective national every year, and it is with this that they surely look foreward to the out of towners making a stop in their backyard. I know I have always loved seeing the "big ones" in life when our local shows arrived every year.

    Good luck to all dogs, top and otherwise this year!!

    With the utmost gratitude,
    SPC Kelli Johnson, US ARMY

  12. But one must admit that it is an advantage to campaign a smaller breed! I can't image the expenses of flying the larger dogs.

    It is a shame when money might limit displaying a fine specimen but once in awhile, a judge notices the selectively shown dog and makes magic for them that day.

    That's where it really counts in the end and makes the sport fun. :)

  13. But one must admit that it is an advantage to campaign a smaller breed! I can't image the expenses of flying the larger dogs.

    It is a shame when money might limit displaying a fine specimen but once in awhile, a judge notices the selectively shown dog and makes magic for them that day.

    That's where it really counts in the end and makes the sport fun. :)