Sunday, October 16, 2016

THE 2016 ABC IN REVIEW: What a difference a year makes!

The Show

Actually, this edition of the BU Blog is more a review of the progress made by our parent club since July 1, 2015 (when the new officers & board took office) than a critique of the show, which was as always, the greatest Boxer show on earth! There was only one glitch to detract from the usual seamless transition from one part of the week-long ABC spectacle to the next, but it was a pretty notable one:  The Sunday specialty, which was supposed to be a limited-entry show, ended up with 289 entries (BOB didn’t start till 6:30 pm Sunday evening!). As a result, the popular Sunday afternoon Greater Cincinnati Boxer Club puppy match had to be canceled, the Top 20 handlers’ planning meeting had to be rescheduled, and many exhibitors and handlers had to forego the ABC hospitality/karaoke event scheduled for Sunday evening in order to feed and exercise their dogs after an exhausting 10+ hours in the ring. Hopefully, that won’t happen again, but since being tapped for one of the pre-ABC specialty slots boosts an ABC member club’s prestige as well as its treasury, the ABC Board might consider rotating that privilege among all the member clubs that would like to have a shot at putting on the pre-ABC Saturday or Sunday show. Perhaps the Greater Cincinnati BC should be given first dibs on the Sunday slot next year.

The Rest of the Story

When the new officers and board assumed their positions on July 1st of 2015, there were a number of controversies, large and small, that had been swirling around the annual show for literally decades. And it’s no secret that there has been an ongoing battle between “traditionalist” and “modernist” factions in the club for many years, too. For example, the issue of whether performance events and exhibitors (obedience, agility, etc) should be as integral a part of the ABC as conformation competition was settled only a few years ago when a big majority of the membership who responded to the ABC Boxer Herding Survey supported the addition of AKC Herding to the events in which Boxers could officially compete. After the results of the survey were made public, the ABC Board voted to apply for the official admission of Boxers to AKC Herding events over only a few objections from dissenting board members, and performance exhibitors are now taking their rightful place as an important part of what is, after all, a working dog club.

Then in 2015/16, a new ABC President and Board took another giant step toward acknowledging working Boxers by giving the membership a vote on changing the ABC Bylaws to allow people that compete in performance events with an ILP/PAL number rather than an AKC registration to become ABC members. In the days before the ABC Code of Ethics allowed white Boxers to be registered with an AKC Limited Registration, many performance people had to resort to an ILP (now PAL) listing to be able to compete with their dogs in AKC Obedience & Agility, even when their dogs were purebred Boxers from show breeders. ABC members approved that bylaws change by a big majority.

The 2015/16 board took another giant step toward the 21st Century by proposing a change in the ABC Code of Ethics that gave complete equity to colored and white pet puppies. Happily, that change was also approved by a big majority of the ABC membership.  

But perhaps the biggest 2015/16 ABC achievement, particularly in light of the ABC’s reputation as a very secretive organization, was the creation of In The Know, an online ABC newsletter that has completely revolutionized how the ABC communicates with its membership.  IMO, In The Know is the best thing that’s happened to the ABC in ages, and goes a long way toward making the club a more open, progressive organization capable of confronting and beating back the anti-animal fanatics who have had such a negative effect on local and state laws and policies that govern hobby breeders.

Of course, there were a few decisions that weren’t unequivocally positive OR negative, like the board vote to keep the annual show in Indiana for at least five years. On the one hand, that decision ended literally years of open dissension among eastern and western members and the accompanying annual social media wars; on the other hand the huge difficulty and expense for western-most ABC members of bringing their dogs to the National Specialty, Futurity & Top 20 has still not been addressed. Perhaps another new innovation implemented this past year – live streaming – will help a bit, but as anyone who has competed with his/her own dog at the National knows, live streaming is a very poor second to actually being there. Here’s hoping the ABC ultimately decides to follow the lead of most other big parent clubs and goes to a roving national specialty.


Finally, there are a few other inequities – like the $400 apiece bistro tables that take up one whole long side of the show ring and appear to be available only on a sort of quasi-hereditary basis – but if the board continues to be more responsive to its general membership, issues like that may go the way of the dodo. Again, we can hope… 

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