All the Old Familiar Faces

By Jessica Freni

Stock Photos

When shows started to re-emerge from the Covid shut down there was a frenzy like response. Limits on entries were placed and reached in record time with still more turned away. Entry services couldn’t take on any more clients they had such demand to try to beat the rush and get in before limits were reached. Superintendent websites were overwhelmed as soon as shows opened as everyone clamored for their dogs to get in, but the mayhem seems to have died down almost as quickly. Many shows she still open without reaching limits.

So, what happened? With fewer Covid restrictions nationwide, there’s other areas going “back to normal”. AKC has added incentive to get those owner handled dogs back out with achievement levels of recognition. Why have the entries slowed or are even lessening? Is it that there are more shows again to choose from or are other reasons people are holding out or at least bring more selective?

This topic came up recently on social media and the responses are worth considering:

  • Cost– rising cost of entries (average $30-35/each), rising fuel costs to get to shows/ travel, additional expenses at shows (particularly grooming spaces and or electric), etc.
  • Judging fatigue– seeing the same judges in short periods and lots of panels, particularly in a geographic area:

“we are seeing a lot of the same panels and a lot of the same dogs. My first show this year will be 11 hours away to get to a show with points, a diverse panel, and worth the money spent.”

“We’re seeing a lot of the same judging panels with the same dogs being entered.  At $35/entry plus handling fees or my costs for fuel; hotel; food; and vacation time…I’m (my wallet) taking a break after this next weekend which happens to be a ‘new panel’ of judges because they hired local ones who happen to also be good.”

“A lot of shows with same panels”

“Too many shows but the same judges so many times “

  • Lingering Covid risk/concerns
  • Too many shows
  • Feelings of biases or favoring Pro-handling

While there were plenty of responses suggested issues with real or perceived politics/biases and concerns with rising costs, the most common consideration factored around judging. If the judging is “good” or at least felt likely to be more “fair” people are still willing to play- even if they have to be pickier with their entries or have higher expenses with traveling further. Exhibitors feel they are seeing the “old familiar faces” on judging panels and feel they are likely to know the outcome. If you judge it (with good panels) they will come.