CH Rock Ridge Night Rocket
BIS 1948 Westminster Kennel Club Show
We rarely pull out our soap box, but now and then something comes up that offends us so much we cannot ignore it. It’s kind of like that neighbor that insists on repeatedly bringing his dog to your front lawn to relieve himself…the dog not the neighbor. We know that there are inconsiderate dog owners out there. Mostly we ignore them. We have found that they are mostly small bands of self- centered folk of no real consequence. However, when they start to stink up the whole neighborhood, there is no other option, but to confront.
We read today an article in one of our most credible dog publications, ShowSight Magazine, entitled POOR SPORTSMANSHIP, or STRATEGIC SHOWING? (sic), a piece that put forth a smell so strong we could not sit silent. The facts are that at last month’s Reliant Series of Dog Shows in Houston, there was a reasonably large Bedlington Terrier entry, varying from 12 to 17 dogs each day. For the first four days there were no more than three absentees, however on the closing day, ten of the 12 Bedlington exhibitors entered failed to appear for the judging. We cannot really say that they were absent as some of the exhibitors sat in the gallery or stood outside the ring, WITH THEIR DOGS, eagerly waiting to see what effect their cleverness had on the targeted exhibitor and/or the judge. These are the facts. We were there and witnessed it, as did several other credible dog people.
The author of the referenced article was not there, though her dog and handler were, but has chosen to use her platform to self-servingly declare the mob action, “…commendable and courageous…” The author even went so far as to threaten the judge, noting the power of social media to punish and urging the judge to use “caution”. Wow…that’s the message we want to pass to our fellow exhibitors. If we don’t like a particular judge or exhibitor, let’s organize a flash mob and see if we can humiliate them into submission. Let’s take to the internet and spew anonymous vindictives against the exhibitors and judges that don’t put up our dogs. That an article in a respectable magazine would deem such bullying tactics to be smart strategy to be employed by the savvy exhibitor is mind blowing.
Well here’s the flaw in the logic. Most credible people will simply choose to ignore you. No one can deny the Bedlington breed is in decline. There was a time when Bedlingtons were routinely in contention for Best In Show. A Bedlington Terrier, CH Rock Ridge Night Rocket, even won the Westminster Kennel Club Show. It's been two years since the last Bedlington BIS. The breed rarely makes it to a final, except at shows with embarrassingly small Terrier entries. The breed is currently 144th in the registry. Four years ago they were 118th. We believe there is a nexus between how welcoming a community is and the health of the breed. New exhibitors are sure to be discouraged and existing exhibitors know enough to avoid breeds where pettiness is a way of life.
Here’s how we think this should have been handled. If you did not like the judge, you should not have entered under him. For those of you who did and decided you did not want to face the judge, whether you came to that conclusion on your own or succumbed to the influence of others, you should have packed up and gone home early. Everyone understands a five day cluster is exhausting. If you chose to stay, you should have shown. The exhibitor you targeted showed her dog the four days before, with mixed results. She won the breed on day one and was walked out of the breed with no award on day four. Now here’s an important point. She showed her dog all five days because it was the Reliant Series, the gallery was full of knowledgeable people, and she knew her dog would be seen and admired.
On Sunday the targeted dog was denied eight breed points by your boycott. Your dogs were denied the opportunity to be seen by the Series’ largest gate and several important people in the gallery. This is where the offending behavior really disturbs me. Dog shows are our face to the world. The boycotting exhibitors thought only of seeking an advantage at a low level of competition. They never thought that there might be dozens, even hundreds of people who came to the Reliant Center on Sunday just to see a Bedlington Terrier. Many people...judges, professional handlers, & show chairs among them...have spoken to us about the behavior of the boycotting exhibitors. None called it, “…commendable and courageous…”, but some did call it “rude”, “disgusting”, and our favorite, “hooliganism”.
The real loser is our beloved sport. We happen to think that our current group of judges are, on the whole, knowledgeable, fair, sincere, and honorable. We don’t always agree with their decisions, but we would much rather trust an AKC judge than a popular vote by group of self-appointed “mean girls”. We hope that the many decent Bedlington exhibitors will eschew this type of behavior and support the entries at the sport’s major venues, including the Montgomery County Kennel Club show, which has been boycotted by some of the same Bedlington exhibitors twice in the last five years.
Finally, we can agree with the author on two points. Social media is a powerful weapon. It is also a two edged sword and can cut both ways. The author closed the subject article with the sentence, “I just hope someone is paying attention.” So do we. And that’s today’s Back Story.