Thursday, June 21, 2012


PART I: Small Bombshell – BIG Noise!

The ABC membership meeting was much livelier than usual this year, with the introduction into the meeting shortly after it began of one brand new controversy and one longstanding one. I’m going to report on the new controversy in this issue of the BU Blog, and I’m also going to report – with great relief – that it’s already been resolved. Whew!

Here’s what happened:  with the exception of one board member who regularly participates in performance activities, it’s pretty fair to say that the rest of the board members, including yours truly, were completely clueless about what it takes to put on a successful obedience or agility trial.  Basically, we’ve all just trusted our obedience and agility chairpersons to do their thing, and the ABC performance events have continued to be a highlight of our national specialty show, year after year after year. This year, in addition to some spectacular performances by some fabulously talented and brilliantly trained Boxers, over $1100 was raised for the ABCF at the agility trials. But I diverge.

Toward the end of the board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the ABC president mentioned that she had received a complaint from a conformation-only exhibitor about the fact that the performance people could nominate and elect the conformation judges, but the conformation people had no say in the selection of the obedience and agility judges; and that furthermore, the performance judges were allowed to charge the club a fee in addition to their travel expenses, while the conformation judges were not permitted to charge a fee, but were expected to come for the “honor” of judging our national specialty.

Unfortunately, the ABC performance chairpersons weren’t at the meeting to explain what this writer has come to think of as “the performance facts of life,” so after a brief discussion of the issue, the board voted to add the performance judges to the annual ABC Specialty judges’ ballot so that ALL ABC members could nominate and vote for them. Big mistake.

In defense of the board though, it did seem unfair at the time that the obedience and agility judges routinely charged the ABC what appeared to be a fairly large fee (it wasn’t) for their services, while the conformation judges came for only the “honor” of judging the ABC + their travel and motel expenses.

Come to find out when several of us discussed our vote with the obedience and agility chairpersons a short while after the meeting, almost all parent breed clubs and all-breed kennel clubs leave the selection of performance judges to their obedience and agility chairs, because, due to the special requirements of performance events and the special demands on performance judges, it would be virtually impossible for most large clubs to book good, qualified judges via a general election held only one year in advance of the show. And it would probably end up being much more expensive for the ABC, too. Oops!

So when the subject came up at the membership meeting on Wednesday night and the obedience and agility chairs explained the procedures they used to select the performance judges as well as all the pre-show preparation the judges had to do before they even left home, the meeting attendees, many of whom had exhibited in the ABC obedience, rally and agility trials earlier in the week, were aghast. Loudly aghast. At the end of the meeting during “new business,” a member rose and moved that the board delay implementation of the decision until the ABC obedience and agility chairs had had an opportunity to provide input and information to the BOD. The motion passed almost unanimously.

After the ABC, there was a lot of discussion on the various Boxer email lists about the ABC obedience and agility events and the proposed change in the judges’ selection procedures.  Ultimately, the ABC president sent an email to the Boxer lists, asking for suggestions on how this “problem” could be resolved in a way that was equitable to both conformation and performance exhibitors.

One of the kindest responses to the president’s message was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Sadly, some of the other comments were sorely lacking in civility. Nonetheless, the individual board members listened to all the comments and digested the information we’d been given that explained the reasons behind the current judges’ selection procedures, and decided to reconsider our vote.

On Monday night, June 18, the ABC BOD held a conference call meeting and voted to rescind our original vote to change the performance judge selection process. The obedience and agility chairs will continue to select the judges for the ABC performance events as they always have, with an eye to hiring popular, qualified judges and keeping costs down for the club.  

During the meeting, two board members said they’d like to work on improved communication between conformation and performance people, so I think you’ll be hearing more about ABC performance events in the future, in a very good way.

You know, I enjoy reading stories with happy endings, and I enjoy writing them, too. If you’ll let me get up on my soapbox for a moment, I’ll let you in on an open secret:  the reason this story has a happy ending is that ABC and member club members elected some terrific Boxer people to this BOD – people who are really trying to do what’s best for the breed and the ABC membership. That’s why I’ve said again and again, let your board members know when you feel strongly about a certain issue. It works.

Please tune in next week for Part II - the BIG ABC bombshell. I think you all know what that is. J