The one thing I feel that everyone must have in common, in the dog show fancy, is a love of dogs and showing. Another thing I am pretty certain of is that without people volunteering and giving a little bit of commitment to our sport it is going to disappear.
One of the major faults I feel there is with the new judging framework is the reduction of the number of stewarding appointments required to have been completed in order to judge. This is for several reasons:
1. It is a massive reduction from 12 to 4
2. It is hard enough to find people to steward as it is without taking this requirement to judge away
3. I do not think that 4 stewarding appointments is enough to learn about ring control and get enough experience in controlling the ring.
4. Without stewards and committees there are no shows.
There is a community of people who like stewarding that do and will steward long after the requirement to judge is filled but I do not think this community is large enough to fill the deficit which will come from dropping this requirement. It is a worrying change. I love stewarding, I have the pleasure of stewarding at Crufts every year and I find it such good fun while at the same time helping out. Sometimes there are perks to stewarding – free lunches and parking but to name a couple. It’s not a lot to ask to help out a show society and help them get the show up and running…. Especially now that each day you steward at a championship show now counts as an individual stewarding appointment.
The other element which is making its impact felt is the lack of people who join committees. I have watched with interest about the reasons for this and they appear to be as follows:
1. “Committees apparently are being “closed doors” to new people in the breed.” - I am on a breed club committee and a general open show committee and I will be honest we are full, this is not us “closing doors” this is us kindly declining more members – but there are committees out there that are screaming for helpers and will take people on so please ask! Sadly though I do think there might be a few clubs who might be guilty of this “closed door” approach.
2. “If you are on the committee you can’t show your dogs.” - I do not think this is true for all committees and I think for most it’s probably that only officers cannot show their dogs. But even if this is a rule surely you could miss one or two shows?
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3. “I can’t afford to join a committee” – I am sorry but what rubbish! If you can afford to show and take your dog’s up and down the country then you can afford to be on a committee!
4. “I don’t have enough knowledge or experience” – this really doesn’t matter, you can learn as you go along and you will learn so much. If you are interested and this is what is holding you back then please forget about this worry and volunteer. I am treasurer for the breed club I am part of and I had no experience of this when I took on the role. It is only with the help from a fellow treasurer from a fellow breed club and our accountant that I was able to learn how to do the job!
Without committees and stewards there are no dog shows, we must pull together and give a bit back in whatever capacity we can! If you join a committee you will get a say in things too – choosing judges for your breed or getting adult handing classes in the schedule for example. At the end of the day if we want the quality of shows and the amount of shows to be maintained then people have got to get involved. There is no point in assuming that “someone else will do it” because they won’t.
I have made some great friends by joining committees and I have learned so much about showing, judging and finance(!). I really do think you are missing out if you are not a committee member – so what are you waiting for? Get on to your local show society and volunteer!
“I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others and a little luck. Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone successful” – Ron Conway
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