European Dog Show: Warschau 2018
From the November 2018 Issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
The Polis Kennel Club ZKwP, or Zwiazek Kynologicznyw Polsce, celebrates its 80th birthday this year, and for that reason, the FCI granted them the honor to organize the European Dog Show. The club started its activities in 1938 and was recognized rather quickly by the FCI. That was in 1939. Unfortunately that was only a year before the second World War and we all know that Poland was the first country that was attacked and suffered immensely under the German occupation. Many dogs were confiscated by the occupier, a lot were probably killed or given away as the people could no longer feed them or were prohibited to have some. After the war a few people did all they could to restart the cynological activities, collecting specimen of the local breeds as good and many as they still could find in Poland as well as in other countries. The Polish Kennel Club held its first show in Wroclaw, a national one, with 94 entries, representing 21 breeds. The first International show was only in 1962 when the country had recovered mostly from the war. That was in Poznan and this time there were 480 entries. From then on the Kennel Club’s effort started to have effect when in 1963 the Polish Lowland Sheepdog was recognized by the FCI followed by the Polish Hound in 1965 and the Tatra in 1967. The Polish Greyhound was recognized in 1989. My neighbor told me he had dogs like me during the war, as no guns were allowed in private hands and hunting was only possible with the help of dogs. The Germans gave him this “very effective dog to help controlling the rabbit and hare population on famers land.” The Germans told him he came from Poland. I hardly believed him at first as I had Salukis and they were so exotic during the war. Later I found out that it must have been a Polish Greyhound that resembled my Kurdish import Salukis , especially my Grizzle one. In 2016 the Polish Hunting dog was recognized and there is one breed that will probably soon follow, the Polish Hunting Spaniel that is already allowed on national shows. There were many cynologists in Poland with a very good international reputation and raised the standard of the Polish Kennel Club to a higher level. In 2000 they were granted the organization of the European Dog Show in Poznan and had 9000 entries. In 2006, again in Poznan, they held the World Dog Show and had a massive entry of 20840 dogs, a new record then. The Polish kennel Club says having 70.000 registrations /year and 50.000 births, which means that about 20.000 were probably imported and that is a lot. But it is clear that the club is flourishing well. The 47 subdivisions of the Kennel club organize about 200 shows/year of which 24 are CACIB shows.
For their 80th anniversary Jubilee they were back on term this year to organize a big FCI event. Unlike the previous shows, it was decided to have the show in Poland’s capital Warsaw. About 20 km outside the city centre, a big expo complex, PTAK expo, proved ideal to welcome a huge amount of dogs. Poznan is older and has different halls, some old, some new, but PTAK expo is new and modern, in the country, next to a highway, easily accessible and with plenty of parking around. But the size of it proved to be more a disadvantage than an advantage. The complex has 6 huge halls of which 5 were in use. The distances were big. From the first hall in use, hall B, to the end where the main ring was, hall F, it was about 15 minutes walking. Some said it was 1.7 km, but I think that is a little exaggerated. The trade stands were all situated in hall E and that was the first big mistake. If you have your ring in hall B, you need about an hour to only have a quick look around. Nobody likes to leave dogs and stuff unattended for that long or feels embarrassed to ask someone to keep an eye for that long. Not one trader was happy, and with some luck they had a moderate turnover, but most had difficulties to have a break even. And I was told that the rent per square meter was very high. If they were at least somewhere in the middle, but now they were at the very end, except for those who had to be in the main ring in hall F for the finals. People who wanted to come back to shop another day had to pay entry fee again. I keep on saying that more attention should be paid to the trade stands as the traders are the first to provide money to the organizers. This happens just too often! People need stuff and want to shop and the traders want to come and provide needs and introduce novelties. Therefore it is important that the organizers have to make this happen in the best possible way.
The halls were very nice and spacious. It would have been enough to rent only 4 halls, thus limiting the distances to cross and still leaving more than enough space. The rings were all very large and covered with carpets. It was easy walking with no obstructions. Halls E and F were not linked directly and therefore a corridor was build of tents in case it would be cold or raining. But it proved to unnecessary as all four days the temperature was very nice, except for the morning. But the space created a very relaxed atmosphere even on Saturday and Sunday. A free bus line was set up from the city to the Expo centre. I have no idea about the number of visitors as it difficult to tell if the halls are very spacious. Hall A was not rented as there seemed to be a permanent shopping mall. Hall B was reserved for the Jubilee Show that was held at the same time, offering exhibitors a chance to win extra titles and/or becoming Polish Champion. 4348 dogs were entered for this show, coming from 55 countries. For the European Dog Show 15143 dogs came from 60 different countries, 3273 from Poland and 1503 from Russia. Italy came 3rd with almost 500 entries followed mainly by neighboring and East- European countries. Other big countries like France, Holland, Spain etc were poorly represented. France had only 76 dogs in competition, Germany 140, Holland 46, Spain 95. There were 36 British dogs entered and 13 from the USA. Many far away countries were represented, however only by small numbers, like Argentina 7, Kazakhstan 8, Canada 4, New Zealand , Peru, Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Filipinas, all by one dog. The list is just too long to mention them all. Big numbers in breeds came from the American Staffordshire Terriers (311 entries), Beagles (195), Bernese Mountain Dogs (187), French Bulldogs (289), Cane Corso (258), Chihuahua’s (248), Golden Retrievers (217), Jack Russells (200), Labradors (249), Pugs (173), Australian Shepherds (166), Rhodesian Ridgebacks (182), Samoyeds (179), Welsh Corgi Pembrokes (154). These are the breeds with more than 150 entries. But other breeds are also worth mentioning . The Papillion for example was represented by 126 specimen, plus 15 in the Phalène variety (hanging ears). The Pomeranians are gaining a lot in popularity, 142 were shown here. Whippets have always been popular, 148 were in competition and the Weimaraners are probably the most popular hunting dogs, especially the short haired. To see 126 of them together you had to be here. The Dachshunds are one group, but in fact it is one breed that comes in 3 hair varieties and 3 sizes. If we see it as one breed then it is by far the most popular breed with 603 specimen shown on this show. The difference between Schnauzer varieties is bigger, especially the Riesenschnauzer compared to the miniature. All colors and varieties together there were 553.
Shows of this size are always interesting to see some very rare breeds or native breeds, not yet recognized by the FCI like the Polish Hunting Spaniel. Group VI in particular and Group VI and V are always incomplete or poorly represented. Group VI, the Hounds, is one of the biggest groups, but on regular shows one of the smallest. This group has so many national varieties but are mostly in the hands of hunters who pay less attention to shows, that European and World Dog Shows are like festivals when it comes to these breeds. The Bava-rian Mountain Dogs and the Hannoverian Scenthound are more common over here, compared to other regions. There were respectively 54 and 13 of them entered. In Group V we found not only the range of Laika dogs, but also the Podengos, small, medio and large ones. There were some Jämthunden, Kishus, Korean Jindo Dogs, and much more rare breeds. A closer look at the native breeds learns us that we could meet some 50 Polish Hunting Dogs, 31 Polish hounds, 44 Polski Owczarek Nizinny (Polish Lowland Sheepdog), 69 Tatra Shepherd Dogs and 56 Chart Polski or Polish Greyhound. At the Jubileum show one could also find some rare en not yet FCI recognized breeds. The Polish Hunting Spaniel is one of them, 19 were entered. It is always good to find some old breeds amongst them, but there are also new breeds or varieties of a breed, often miniature versions of other coats or colors. I think it is more important to conserve old breeds instead of establishing new often fashion breeds. Things like this always make shows of this size always very interesting.
The main ring looked very promising at first sight, a very large one, very wide in fact, a long rectangle. In front of the VIP area were two screens and the Press was offered seats at the left side. All press people who wanted to take pictures in the ring were had to wear a special press vest. It was a nice sight. They were granted 60 seconds to make pictures of all 4 placed winners. The position on the left, however, was far from ideal as the dogs entered on the right side. On the left side, opposite the photographers was a life band playing. Many puppies were afraid of the drums. The effect of live drums is totally different from drum coming out of loudspeakers that are often hanging high, while the drums were almost level to the floor. On the right side was the trophy table and the speakers corner. In front was a nice podium evenly lit with white light. On several occasions a fog machine was used. That fog was still hanging when the dogs entered the ring, a very annoying situation for the photographers. For the rest the main ring looked fantastic , well lit, blue carpet and large round spots for the selected dogs. The stairs for the spectators was a different problem. It was too flat, not like most stairs going up. There was one on each side of the large VIP side and it was boarded on both sides by a large panel, while in front there was a wobbling handrail that was so high that even standing adults had difficulties to look over them. And because the stairs were hardly climbing, it was very difficult for children to something of the main ring properly. As if that wasn’t enough there were no ring stewards to help the judge. From the start on it was pure chaos. One judge was lining them up on the right, out of sight of the press and the left stairs, another chose the left side, another the middle . Every judge could do as he pleased not taking care of what the spectators could see and even the VIP’s had serious problems to see anything. As if that wasn’t enough, the dogs could line up more or less as the wished. The first evening proved very chaotic. On day two the Press had better seats, more centrally placed. But two photographers were offered the privilege to go into the ring first, while the rest had to wait until they were finished and all this within the 60 seconds. The next time they refused to go into the ring, much to the astonishment of the organizers. This decision was quickly undone for the rest of the show, a victory for the international Press. The lining up and the judging in general were a little better too, but still, there were judges who went to extremes. One judge was lining up his selection completely on the right part of the ring and made them run right there. The left tribune was left completely blind and could only follow the video screen, same for the VIP area, imagine! And as if that was not enough, the camera was forced to take the dogs from bird’s eye view as if looking at the judging from out of a window of a tall building! The sound of the speaker’s comments was another problem, very difficult to understand missing high tones so that it all ended in an unintelligible loud murmur. Notwithstanding the multiple remarks and requests for ring stewards, nothing much changed except for a few dancers of the folkloristic group that were asked to stand on the side and show the entering exhibitors where to line up. The judge however, continued to do as they liked, although most of them used the middle of the large ring in front of the VIP area. But on Sunday Mr.Rafael de Santiago, judging the Best Veteran in Show, decided to do this in front of the band, completely on the left side, out of sight of the VIP’s and leaving the right podium totally blind. What a shame, what a waste, a beautiful, promising main ring completely spoiled by stubbornness to not place two ring stewards to lead everything in the right direction. Unbelievable! At least we were treated to some nice and entertaining performances by folklore groups. The act of a Eurovision contest singer was less appreciated, probably because she was unknown to the majority of the foreigners and the style was typical for the East European states. What really impressed was the violist with the wide robe whereon the most lovely patterns were projected from the top. It was the opening act and It certainly impressed all the spectators in the main ring and was given a standing ovation. Another good point was that the exhibitors in the pre-judging ring were offered snacks and sandwiches and that was very much appreciated of course. And also the press got treads, however, that proved not enough to cover up the many frustrations they faced. Such a nice main ring, how promising, but how frustrating seeing this all being overcastted by a few big mistakes, out of stubbornness. What a missed chance.