Monday, April 2, 2018

How to Win Friends and Influence Boxer People…NOT!

It’s 2018. Boxer entries are down all across the US, the new AKC point schedule shows our breed in decline and the AKC just announced that the German Shorthaired Pointer made it onto the top 10 most popular dogs list in 2017, knocking out the Boxer, who had been in that group for the past four years. In the same vein, ABC membership continues to fall and the print-your-own-ballot scheme that the board came up with not too long ago in an attempt to save money has had the unintended consequence of ensuring that only a fraction of the membership votes. In addition to all that bad news, ABC member clubs are also losing members and more of them are falling by the wayside every year.

So why did the ABC leadership choose this inauspicious moment in time to take a simple problem – the judge elected to officiate at the Maryland Regional had to withdraw due to illness, and the judge who came in second in the election had already accepted another assignment – and turn it into a crisis?

When the ABC was notified that the original judge had to withdraw, the president could have called a special meeting of the full board and asked for a consensus on a new judge from the directors, who are after all elected to conduct ABC business. Instead, a couple of officers unthinkingly appointed a judge who had just judged one of the pre-ABC shows in May 2017.

Naturally the Regional show chair, Tom Davis, objected to the ABC’s hasty choice, which he felt would hurt the entry at a show that Maryland Boxer Club members had worked long and hard to make a success. So he called the Salisbury KC show chair and suggested a popular breeder judge who had previously judged the ABC Futurity (and was also an ABC director) and the Salisbury Kennel Club hired her.

But because Tom Davis refused to accept the ill-considered decision of the officers who originally selected the new judge and acted on his own to solve what he saw as a problem the ABC was only making worse, a majority of the board voted to expel him from the ABC; because Bridget Brown, the breeder judge hired by the Salisbury KC, refused to withdraw from the Regional assignment, a majority of the board voted to remove her from the board by suspending her for six months; and finally, despite that the other members of the Maryland Boxer Club had done nothing wrong and had put on a great show, a majority of the board voted to sanction MBC for a year, during which time the club cannot put on an independent specialty show or even a designated specialty. Which brings me to the point of this blog:

Both sides made mistakes here, starting with the ABC officers who selected a judge who had just judged during the 2017 ABC week, in contravention of the spirit of the ABC’s own judges’ selection rules. But only one side was punished, and by any measure, punished out of all proportion to their actions. Expulsion?  A six months suspension?  A year’s sanction? And most of those actions were taken in the secrecy of an “executive session” of the board.

It’s 2018. Our votes for a new ABC Board of Directors are due to the teller by April 30. I have served as both an elected member of the board and as a zone director – I know how the board is supposed to act and it seems plain to me that the actions of most of the current directors in this instance were “prejudicial to the best interests of the club and the breed.”

If you agree, read the candidate questionnaires carefully and elect a slate of new members to the ABC BOD. It’s time to change with the times.

Thanks for listening.