Today we arrived at the dog show grounds only to be asked to pay a day parking fee that was 8 times the amount listed in the premium list. The rationale was that because we were in the RV, we should have made an overnight parking reservation. Since we had arrived at 9 am and would have left the grounds by 3 pm, I didn’t really see where overnight parking was involved in any way. We had the RV because bringing it was the only way for me to have access to electricity for grooming, a necessity to be competitive with either of the breeds we had entered. Ludwigs Corner, where the show was held, has acres of parking space so it’s not like there isn’t room. Besides, it’s a dog show and almost everyone has an oversized vehicle. I specifically asked and was told that a handler with a large box truck would not be charged the higher rate, even though x-pens and an awning would mean that the handler’s truck would take up a significantly larger footprint than our motor home.
In the end, we opted to leave rather than agree to pay the exorbitant and arbitrary parking fee. This meant giving up $92 in entry fees (the last money the Chester Valley Kennel Club will get from us), wasting a day off from work that could have been put to better use, and that the time spent grooming 3 coated breed dogs yesterday was unnecessary. Not showing our class dogs also decreased the number of points available in both PBGVs and Aussies- if you were affected by that, be sure to complain to the club and not to us. Maybe the bigger issue is that I find myself questioning yet again if it’s really worth showing my dogs in conformation.
I don’t know how many people really put thought into what it means to attend shows as an owner handler. Preparing a PBGV for the show ring and maintaining his coat in condition is an extremely time consuming process. I know that some people really love grooming and get into it as a form of artwork- I’m not one of those people. In 1990 I fell in love with a casual tousled breed that has morphed into a highly sculptured show dog, requiring extensive trimming and enough styling product to be personally responsible for global warming. Even if I limit my showing to weekends, grooming multiple PBGVs for the show ring without help means either taking time from work or not sleeping at night. Often all this effort results in arriving at the show to discover that there are no points, even if other people agreed to enter dogs. I guess this is why so many people use handlers now, but having one dog out with a handler would cost the same as running 5 dogs in agility, so it isn’t that appealing. Besides, I don’t really see the point in having dogs just to send them out on the road with someone else.
The old story is that the point of the show ring is to evaluate breeding stock. Really? Can anyone honestly say that a dog with a championship title earned by competing only against other dogs from the same kennel is more deserving than a dog who isn’t finished because his owner doesn’t own enough dogs to make up a major? As a breeder I feel pressure to finish my dogs’ championships but would feel better about making the effort if I could trust the system a little more. Dog show entries get smaller every year- maybe I’m not the only disenchanted breeder- owner- handler out there.