PLANS that could lead to the revival of the open show scene were announced at the Pawscars last night.
The awards team revealed that plans were being put in place to ‘fix what’s wrong’ and stem the flow of dwindling entries.
Open shows are vital to the continued success of showing, the audience were told, and focus groups will be set up to discuss how open shows can be made more appealing, thereby boosting entries.
At the Pawscars awards ceremony yesterday evening – held each year on the eve of Crufts – Gavin Robertson, whose Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Ch Soletrader Peek A Boo won best in show at Crufts 2013, explained that the awards were launched two years ago to celebrate all that was best about the UK dog show scene.
“We wanted to sing the praises of those who work hard week in, week out to make UK shows some of the best in the world,” he said. “In recent months a number of writers in both DOG WORLD and Our Dogs have voiced concern about the state of the open show scene and have called for some kind of action to halt a steady decline, not just in entries but also in the number of open shows taking place across the UK.”
Since the end of last year the Pawscars team has been talking to Lintbells, which sponsors the Pawscars' Open Show of the Year Award, with a view to tackling the problem of dwindling entries, Mr Robertson explained before inviting him on stage to join DOG WORLD managing director Stuart Baillie.
“Open shows are vital to the continued success of pedigree dog showing,” Mr Howie said. They are where people cut their teeth, not just as exhibitors but also as judges, stewards and administrators.”
Mr Baillie agreed, saying that before anyone could ‘start to fix what might be wrong’ with the open show scene, one needed to understand why people were no longer entering them and what could be done to persuade them to take part once again.
Over the next 12 months, they said, DOG WORLD and Lintbells are to stage of a number of focus group meetings where people will be able to discuss what is good and what is bad about open shows in the UK. Those taking part will be invited to suggest what sort of things open show societies can do to make their events more appealing and attract greater entries.
"In addition, we will be organising questionnaires and surveys gauging opinion and testing ideas to see what people really want,” Mr Baillie said. " This work is not being done in competition with anything the Kennel Club might be planning – it is being done to help and assist.
"As the KC’s Show Promotion Working Party reaches the culmination of its work with championship shows we understand it will be turning it attention to open shows, and we hope we can help them reach conclusions.”
By this time next year, it is hoped the focus groups will have been able to provide the KC with a comprehensive report which suggests some areas which need attention.
“Beyond that we hope there may be initiatives that we can get involved in to develop and once more popularise the UK open dog show,” Mr Howie said. "This is your chance, and the chance of all the people out there in the pedigree dog showing world to have a say in shaping the future. We hope you grab that with both hands.”
If not for the Pawscars this initiative may never have seen the light of day, Mr Baillie concluded.
“For me, it sums up what Gavin and I hoped to achieve when we started this event,” he said. “By talking to each other we find ways of taking things forward and ensuring a successful future for us all."