What a turbulent time on the dog show scene. It all started at the end of September last year with the World Dog Show in Brno (Czech Republic) followed by the European Dog Show in Budapest, Hungary, on New Year’s Eve. Not even three months later, we had the first Crufts again after the Corona plague. Paris was next, five weeks later.
Most shows during Corona were cancelled, but the World Dog Show of Madrid, planned in April 2020, only weeks after the aggressive spread of Corona, was postponed to finally take place at the end of June 2022. There might be several reasons to make it take place anyway and I have no idea if it was a good idea. This is understandable, since all the preparations made in the months prior to the planned World Dog Show of Madrid in 2020 had been for nothing when the world went into lockdown. So much was setup already and the expectations for a great event in their country must have hit the proud Spaniards deep in their hearts. Renting the showground for the event is something that needs to be done up to two years in advance and being listed again on the FCI calendar means waiting at least several years.
It takes courage to go on with the plans, but it also takes courage to put them on hold. What makes a wise decision in such a case? Cancelling means probably losing more invested money on top of what was already spent and, like we all did, they’d hoped it would not last long before everything went back to normal. Unfortunately, it took two years. Even re-planning the show for mid-2022 would probably have been risky, as by the time things had to be started up there were signs of recovery thanks to the vaccinations—but everything could suddenly still go either way.
What we saw is that the number of entries dropped drastically compared to pre-Corona times. Entries between 18,000 to 25,000 were normal numbers for a World Dog Show in Europe. Brno, the first big show after Corona when a lot of people were still worried about letting go of all the restrictions, and coming together from all over the world, had over 12,000 entries, significantly less. Madrid was planned over four days, the first day reserved for the CACIB show. This show had 4,201 entries, a nice result for a CACIB show. The World Dog Show had 6,860 dogs, plus another 775 Minor Puppies and Puppies, which means that 7,635 dogs were entered all together. I don’t take the 4,201 entries for the CACIB show into account as almost all of them were the very same dogs that were entered for both shows.
Behind the Puppies and Minor Puppies, I put a question mark. There is no official title for them to win. It is just for the fun of the audience and for extra money for the organization. I have no problem with that, as it means some lovely moments seeing all those little soldiers march in the main ring, ready to conquer the world. But nobody was amused when it caused a very, very long day for the CACIB show.
Imagine, Minor Puppies, then Puppies, Junior Class, and Open competition for all 10 Groups, plus Braces, Best Breeders Group, BIS Puppies, BIS Veterans, BIS Junior Class, BIS of the Spanish Breeds, and Best in Show itself… good for no less in the main ring than 38 items, averaging 10 minutes each, to go through for six and a half hours! The result was that the CACIB show finished only at 9:30 p.m.! That was a really bad start for the event. Most people were not amused and left, so that for the finals the halls were almost empty. Fortunately, the three following days ended well in time and were much more relaxed.
Ifema, the Madrid Expo center, was huge. At first, before Corona interfered, six pavilions were reserved for the World Dog Show of Madrid. But due to the pandemic and the serious drop in entries, only four were actually rented in the end and there was still enough space for the rings due to their size. The weeks prior to the show, a heat wave ravaged the country with temperatures largely exceeding 40°C [104°F] for days in a row.
I can imagine how desperate the organization must have been, facing this new problem. Fortunately, temperatures went back down to normal shortly before and during the show. Inside the halls it was really okay and comfortable, and easy for walking around. I had the impression that there were not many visitors, but this was probably a wrong impression only caused by the space available. In the city, however, I saw buses wrapped with publicity for the show. Anyway, the two big stairs around the huge main ring were well-occupied, especially on the last day.
The number of trade stands also seemed to have diminished in general. Compared to pre-Corona times, their numbers went down and I suppose many did not survived it. In general, it was very clean all over, inside as well as outside, but I was upset that during the finals of the second WDS day, one dog pooped on the carpet. The handler did not have a plastic bag and did not clean it up. It took more than 10 minutes before somebody from the cleaning service came to take it away.
The plenty of space available allowed for a big main ring. It was really big in size, for sure, the biggest ring I ever saw. Was this the reason that the video streaming company was not able to evenly light it all? The dogs entered from a dark area and, depending on where they were, they were better lit than in other places.
In fact, it was only well-lit in the central area and this created a strong and uncomfortable contrast. Blue was chosen for the carpet with dark blue strokes where the dogs had to run. Those lines were lit with very bright light, causing such a very strong blue reflection, so intense, that not only did the dogs have blue paws and bellies, even the handlers had a blue cast on their faces. The best colors for the carpet are white, gray, or black. Any other color casts heavy reflections on the dogs, especially on those with white, black, or gray coats.
Compared to Paris, the podium was way better and more evenly lit. Here we again had four places, still a mystery to me why, compared to all other sports where only three winners are placed. One of the large sides was reserved for the VIPs and was connected to the stand of the main sponsor, ARIA.
Only a very limited space, way too small, right next to the entrance was reserved for the press; the most illogical place one can imagine. Of course, it took only minutes before the photographers spread over the area in search of better spots and angles, mostly in front of the VIP area.
The staff of ARIA was clearly not amused and, at times, even hostile because Queen Sophia would visit the show (which she did for three consecutive days) and would sit right on the spot where several press people had camped. Understandable, okay, but it shows again that too often the importance of the press is neglected. I keep on stressing that the press should be able to do their job under the best circumstances. They turn the efforts and work for the show into history; they take care that the event is not evaporated after one day.
Another problem was the background music. At first it seemed okay, not too loud and well-chosen. But after a while, it proved to be a looping file, only one, all the time repeated over and over again, like a waiting call on a telephone. This is good for a couple of minutes, but not for five consecutive hours, three days on a row! Instead of a relaxing effect, it created the opposite effect. P1, the streaming company that takes care of the main ring program and the sound, has made great progress for shows of this size and kind, but there is still improvement to be done. However, in general, they do guarantee a smoothly run show and this is paramount.
All the rest was fine and went smoothly, at least in the main ring. But the main problem was the lack of communication. It started with the catalogs. There were no printed catalogs; you ordered one beforehand. Instead, you received a card with a QR code that revealed an address where the catalog of the day could be downloaded. A nice idea to help save the planet.
Unfortunately, the WiFi could not handle these massive downloads every morning. I tried and tried, but no luck to get connected. Then, finally, someone in the press room gave me another private WiFi address, it worked. But it proved extremely difficult to read the content unless you resized your screen all the time, as you were not able to see a whole page at once. So, scrolling was the message; scrolling, enlarging, resizing, and scrolling again, and hoping your battery would not be drained.
The breeds were listed alphabetically… according to their Spanish name! What if you don’t know the name of your breed in Spanish? But, okay, suppose you found out, then you just knew the name of the judge. From there, you had to go to another list with all the rings and the judges’ names, where you’d find the hours of judging. Then you had to look on a map to find out which hall the ring was in. Extremely complicated, especially on a phone. I have no idea how professional handlers with several breeds managed to get their job done.
The pinnacle of it all was that only on the penultimate last day did someone tell me that the press could get a free catalog at the World Dog Show merchandizing shop. But when I asked for one on the last day, I had to pay eight EURO! It was clear that the communication and briefing was below zero; there was no uniformity and information was not available. There were no info-stands where one could ask for help. Even in the press room they could not help me find a certain ring and time for a certain breed. And as I could not make a WiFi connection to download the digital catalog, I felt like the blind and missed the judging completely in the end.
I have no intention to criticize all the hard work and efforts of the people of the Royal Canine Society of Spain, but the lack of information was the major cause of many things that went wrong. Another serious issue was the caravan and camper restrictions. It was possible to have your caravan or camper on the parking spot nearby the halls, but not for the night. This meant that they had to move out every evening and look for a real camping place in the neighborhood. Of course, this is an Ifema rule, probably, but a big percentage of the handlers and exhibitors come by camper or with a caravan. Moving all your stuff twice a day is no fun, especially if you need to prepare your dogs for the show.
I was pleased to see Queen Sofia paying strong interest in the Spanish cynology. She attended the show for three days—and not only for a few minutes. No, she followed a big part of the show in main ring program, and on Sunday for the finals, she handed out prizes for the Best of the Spanish breeds.
Spain has not the best reputation with regard to animal rights and welfare. The bullfighting is one thing, but the many old and inefficient hunting dogs that are killed cruelly every year is also legendary. The Real Sociedad Canina de España still has a lot of work to do to help banning this. The visit of Queen Sofia is certainly a big support. Spain has 13 breeds now recognized by the FCI and another 11 non-recognized.
The Ratonero Valenciano is the latest breed to be recognized by the FCI. Numerous specimens proudly represented the breed in the main ring. It is a small Fox Terrier-sized dog, with black, or black and tan, plates on a white background and with upright ears.
There is not very much information to be found on the website of the show, and mainly in Spanish only, so I could not find any statistics. But in the foreword it says that 66 countries and five continents were present. Besides the mention of 250 different breeds and a largely overestimated “number of dogs” (16,000), it was far from reliable. A total of 16,000 “entries” is a possibility if the many club shows are also taken into account, but the fact is that 7,635 individual dogs where shown at the World Dog Show of Madrid. Or do we speak of individual dogs or do we speak of entries? It is not a shame to be correct when the number sounds moderate.
All World and European shows decreased significantly in their numbers and we can only hope that the pre-Corona times will come back soon. And let us not forget the impact of the Russian and Ukrainian entries that we’ve missed since. During the European Dog Show 2019 in Welz, Austria, Russia had over 2,000 entries! I really miss real statistics, lists of entries by countries, lists of numbers by breed (they were online but one had to count all the different classes together), a presentation of the national breeds in the catalog, etc.
Was this a good show? It depends on the way you look at it. I admit that I heard very few complaints about the judging, the show, the space, etc. If you have to look at your breed only, I suppose it must have been fine enough. Everything was there and seemed to be working. There was space, nice rings, food available everywhere, etc. If you came by camper or caravan, it was already a different story with more frustrations to deal with.
And if you look at the show as a whole? There was a lack of information, too many things had to be found by accident, and there was a lot of improvisation at the last moment. The first day was more than a marathon, but the other days were okay. Except for the color of the carpet and the unevenly lighted spots, the main ring was well run and correct.
The total of 7,635 dogs is no shame in this post-Corona time, and, too often, the language barrier causes lots of minor annoyances. It was not easy to finally find the main ring results. All one could find is the name of the dog and the breed, not the owner or his nationality. It was only available on the website of the Spanish Kennel Club, not on the one websites of the World Dog Show of Madrid. On that site, you could find the catalogs—all but the one for Sunday! (And this while, nowadays, you no longer need to be a computer programmer to work with a database and collect all the information you want.)
We may not forget that this is a World Dog Show, not an ordinary Spanish show, and that there were two extra years of worries, but also two years of time to prepare for this due to the pandemic, to avoid many issues, and create a close-to-perfection show.
WORLD DOG SHOW MADRID 2022 RESULTS
WORLD DOG SHOW MADRID 2022 PHOTO GALLERY