From the January 2020 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
As last year was a double show with 4,236 entries for the two shows, it had 2,361 dogs for this edition. Depending on how you look at it, it is a slight increase this year. The damage caused by the multitude of double shows in a small country like Belgium is significant. Many dogs have the titles that they need already and most of the dogs that need required papers for breeding probably too. That means that a whole generation of dogs no longer needs to enter for the shows, hence the expected and massive decrease in numbers of dogs on shows. The good thing is, as a dog’s career and life are much shorter compared to that of man, and a new generation is ready for the show before you know. We can expect that single shows will grow again in a few years on condition that double shows are banned or brought back to a strict minimum of exceptions. Shows that face serious difficulties to survive must be confident and find other means to gain more entries again. That is why I expect that soon we will have a Eurodogshow with numbers that come close, or who knows, even surpass the record numbers of before.
The Kortrijk Eurodogshow has to keep up its reputation of new trendsetter and every year they make me curious to find out what they have on offer now. Some old items that proved not successful were abandoned. There is no longer a combination with a Cat Show. Others are still going on, like the Terrier Special, the many demonstrations as there are the Rescue dogs, Blind Dogs, Flyball, Guarding and Defence demonstrations, Obedience. Dog Dance is also one of the where the public could enjoy some stunning performances. Ever seen a dog duo-jumping-rope along with his master synchronized on the beat of the music? Amazing! That the Kortrijk Eurodogshow is called “little Crufts” has his reasons for sure. There is so much to do, so much to discover, so much to see and to buy. As usual you could find many trade stands and they get a welcome
feeling here as one of the important pillars of a good dog show and are offered a small, cozy and well-attended reception on Friday evening after building up. And they keep coming back, year after year and that is not because of this reception, but because Kortrijk attracts public and a lot of visitors is usually translated in a good turn over. Sometimes, there are just too many of them, and that is not ideal either as they have to share the same cake and some will not come back again.
The big novelty this year was the “Go-To-Show” item. Most house dogs never go to a show because they have no pedigree. Some are bought in commercial Kennels where they had the option to “pay extra if they want to have a pedigree”, others were rescued from dog shelters, or for whatever reason. In order to raise their interest in Dog Shows those people could subject their dogs to a visual classification to find out what breed they belong too, undergo a behavior test in order to see if they are socialized enough to go to a show and a veterinarian examination to see if they are fit and healthy. When this is done they can enter for the Go-to-Show competition where an allround judge judges them just like any other dog in the regular competition. They are however not placed and there is no competition, but they get a report with the good and the minor points of how their dog relates to the breed standard. We will see this probably on other shows too in the future, but Kortrijk once more had the “première” with success with around 120 entries. It is a great idea and makes dog shows more accessible.
The main ring is beautiful as always with the three winning podia in the middle. Although the ring is large enough it creates disorder in the main ring. As every judge can do as he likes, we get many different ways of presenting the selected dogs, sometimes in front of the podium, sometimes perpendicular to it, others make the dogs not move but move themselves, so that part of the dogs run in front of the podium while the rest behind it, etc. For a show like this, while timing is so crucial for the organization, it is time to think about this as a serious point of improvement. That can simply be done with a carpet path on the floor in a contrasting color, a good ring steward (who is, in fact, the boss in the ring) and good briefing in the morning and just before entering the main ring. If necessary distribute a written text that they can study. And another point of concern is the many people who jump into the main ring to take their own photos. That together with the ring steward who writes down the ring numbers with his back in between the dogs and the photographers is very annoying. There is such a very limited time to take a proper photo and if this time is consumed with things that can easily be solved in another way. As six dogs are selected, why not write the numbers of these dogs at the very moment that they are selected. Later the placement can simply be written behind the dog’s number. No losing time anymore, no distraction for the dogs and nicer pictures taken in seconds by professional photographers only and we get a more relaxed time schedule in the end. And sorry to repeat it, but why place four dogs and not just three, and ten dogs for the minor puppies, puppies, and junior dogs? And why placing all ten finalists in the end and one, two three and all the rest four ex-aequo?
The dogs traveled from 20 different countries for this famous show. There were even two dogs entered from as far as Japan! 98 Dogs were entered from the UK and that is two more than the entries of Germany. But compared to other years, the UK entries have dropped seriously! Usually, they are around 200 and more! Has it to with Brexit? Hard to tell, but maybe it has to with the double shows too as especially for the English double shows are interesting as they need to book a hotel anyway and if that counts for a double show it is easier to become the Championship titles. In fact that counts not only for the English exhibitors only but for all exhibitors that come from more remote areas. For those exhibitors, double shows are a blessing, but nevertheless, it is the only advantage!
Looking at the judges’ schedule, it was the weirdest schedule I ever saw! 39 judges were invited and 27 of them were officiating one day only!? Most unusual! Notwithstanding the low number of English entries no less than eleven judges were British and another four came from Ireland, while only nine Belgian judges were invited. What I can conclude is that a lot of the one-day-judges were breed specialists and/or invited for the Terrier Specialty. Fortunately, in general the dogs/judging day rate was not bad with a 49 score. On Saturday Mrs. Marie Thorpe from Ireland had a good score of 77 dogs and that was mostly thanks to the 51 Chihuahuas who turned up for her. Mrs Pine-Haynes from the UK was involved with the Poodles, good for 70 specimens. And Mr. Vanaken from Belgium had also a good score with 72 entries. I need also to mention the 50 Bulldogs for Mrs. Maria Taylor from the UK, the only breed she judged. On Sunday Mr. Jentgen had 77 dogs to judge and what was remarkable was that 32 of them were German Shepherds. It is a number that one doesn’t see very often at a regular all-breeds show as German Shepherds have their own breed shows that are immensely popular, but that alienates them from the rest of the cynological world and that is a pity. 74 dogs were entered for Mrs. Anja Gregoire from Belgium and that included 54 Australian Shepherds. Mr. Marius Nedelcu was invited to judge the 53 Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the 26 American Staffordshires. Mr. Norman Deschuymere and Mrs. Viviane Boesmans were invited to judge less common breeds out of group 7 and group 8 respectively and they ended up with a lot of them, 85 entries for Mr. Deschuymere and 76 for Mrs. Boesmans.
I remember Mr. Joel Vanlerberghe, president of the club, telling me last year that he would emphasize more on Breed specialists and avoiding the too often used all-rounders. And this is the result of his promise. It is an expensive investment but, as we know the Eurodogshow of Kortrijk as being probably the most British oriented dog show of the continent, he could exploit his top-connections with the British and Irish judges, which are relatively cheap to invite due to the good and cheap connections between the countries.
Best In Show judge was Mr. Paul Stanton, who lives in Sweden but is British too in fact. He had the second-highest day score on Saturday with 76 entries and the same on Sunday when he had 79. And as he judged both days, he had the best overall score of the weekend with 155 dogs. For his BIS judging, he had to line up all 10 Group winners. I stick to my 3 places only. His third place went to the Labrador Retriever “Woefdram’s Abercrombie” owned by Sander Nugteren from the Netherlands. This dog had to beat a large number of concurrents, 43 were entered for Mrs. Pam Blay from the UK. Woefdram’s was entered in open class at two years of age! It was Mr. Jos Decuyper from Belgium and who is very familiar with the breed, that picked him out as Best of Group. The second place went to the Bracco Italiano “Anzani Di Regione Montagnozo”, UK bred and owned by Scarlet and Mark Burnside from Northern Ireland. Only two were entered, Anzani in Champion Class for Mr. Deschuymere and later for Mr. Paul Jentgen for the Group Judging. Winner and Best In Show went to a breed that is too often missing the spotlights. It was the Swiss Mountain Dog “Oby van ‘t Maroyke” bred by Ronny Moreau and owned by Mr.Freddy De Smet from Belgium. Four were entered for Mrs. Cornelia Schwesinger from Germany, but replaced by Mr.Kappetijn. Unfortunately I don’t know the reason, but it might have meant Oby’s luck as he was picked out and sent to be judged in the group by Mrs. Marie Thorpe from Ireland who gave this four-year-old male the ticket for the finals. The way he ran in the main ring, showing all his qualities, impressed many, but Mr. Stanton in the first place as he crowned him winner of the 56th edition of the famous Eurodogshow of Kortrijk.
As said in the beginning, it will take a couple of years to have several shows fully recovered from the craze of double shows, but having confidence is the only way and as new generations of show dogs come up fast, seeking for qualifications, there is a bright future waiting again. Next year Kortrijk will have more dogs again, I can tell you! Moreover as Kortrijk is a trendsetter and Europe’s little Crufts! Let us hope that Brexit will not trouble the good connections on show level with the continent.
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