news - 13/06/2019
European Dog Show 2019 Austria Friday -
by Karl Donvil
European Dog Show 2019 Wels Austria
With the World Dog Show in Shanghai-China this year, too far away and complicated to travel with dogs for the European exhibitors that far outnumber the other members of the FCI, it was in the line of expectations that The European Dog Show of this year would be a real success.Austria, one of the first FCI countries, celebrated its 110th anniversary. The Austrian Kennel Club had hosted the European Dog Show already twice in the past, the first time in 1999 and the second time in 2005, and in 2012, the World Dog Show was held in Salzburg with 18607 entries, plus around 5000 entries for the club specialties. 13244 Dogs were entered for this European Show, while another 6812 were booked for the Austrian Winner. That makes a nice total of 20066 entries. The organizers, the ÖsterreichischerKynologenverbandes, were very pleased with this result, it was more than they had expected. The club had chosen for the city of Wels, situated on the rural part of Austria, but not too far from where the mountains start. The city of Wels has good connections via highway and train and the airport of Linz. The Expo Halls offer sufficient space to host all those dogs in with 2 new halls for the European Show and several old ones where the Austrian Champion show took place. They are situated along the river Traun, at the border of the historical center of the city and facing the park. This was obviously one of the advantages, but on the other hand, so close to a city center means that all the traffic arrives via the smaller city roads. The results were there, traffic obstructions in the morning, and that creates a lot of stress from the start on because people start wondering if they will arrive in time for the show. And as if this was not enough, a continental heat wave struck the city. And it was hot, really hot, with temperatures rising quickly up to over 30°C. That was not what the OKV had wished for. All this together brought certain exhibitors literally to the cooking point when they had to queue at the gates to come in and find shade. This is always one of the weakest points of a show of this size. Usually, last year students of the Veterinary faculty are asked to do the checking of papers and dogs and they often take it too seriously, going too far into details. They are not aware that this creates long rows of upset people, anxious to get in. Parking was no problem, there was enough space available, but getting there meant queuing and as many did not want to queue in the streets, they parked their cars in the city where they found a place and went on foot to the halls. It is always a bad situation to face from the start on. Enough entrances should be available so that this could be prevented. A good first impression makes it easier to forgive small faults during the rest of the day. Of course, there was the coincidence with the heath and this took on for all the 3 days of the show. On Sunday, a few excited exhibitors forced a door and the security had to push them back. That went along with pushing, screaming and shouting, but security had no other choice as to push them back. Imagine what it would be if they could not lock the door again. Someone filmed this incident and immediately send it to Facebook. Within minutes it was shared with lots of ugly comments. Again Facebook proved how dangerous it can be if something is posted, without explanation, taken out of its context, giving an impression as if the whole showwas one big catastrophe.
But was this what the show was like? Certainly not, inside the main and new halls where the European Dog Show took place temperatures were tolerable. The old halls where the Austrian Winner was judged were less comfortable but I heard very few complaints, probably because people understood very well that the temperature was exceptional. There was even a trade stand holder who stressed that it was cooler in the old halls where he was, then in the new ones, notwithstanding the lower ceilings there. It was, however, strange that the new recently build halls were not equipped with Air conditioning and the Rotaxhall, where the main ring was situated, in particular! I was told that the cost for it was not in relation to the few days a year that it would be useful.
We have been spoiled lately by lots of space and walkways around the rings, like was the case in Poland and Germany. Here is was more the normal, usual space to walk and sit. A pity that like in Helsinki there were no walkways indicated. Especially when space is not abundant this is very useful and safe in case of an emergency. The trade stands were all over but mostly against the walls. Stand holders still talk about Brussels with its shopping road straight in the middle of the halls so that exhibitors and visitors had to walk through in order to go to the rings. But in general Wels was fairly good, but not a topper. The expo area was boarding the city park where it was nice walking in the shade of the trees. The Traun river, boarding the outside of the halls, was another option for refreshment, but unfortunately, it was also outside the fences of the expo area. Indeed, distances were very short and those we stayed in motorhomes or caravans, were not isolated like on many showgrounds, far from shopping areas, etc. Here, within 500m, you were in the middle of the old town and market square for a cool drink, a dinner in the open or a delicious ice cream.
The Rotaxhall, where the main ring was situated, was opposite the two new halls with a service road in between, and thus, no long distances to walk. In fact, all the halls were within easy reach of each other, very convenient. The main ring itself was covered with grey carpet with, in the middle, a lighter grey stroke, supposed to let the selected dogs run and to prevent that the judges tochoseas they liked to let the dogs run, what can cause a chaotic impression? This was much better, and except for 1 judge, all did as prescribed. It can be as simple as that. The long side, on the left, when facing the podium, was reserved for the VIP’s and judges. The right side was for the Press and the public. The short side facing the podium had several rows with chairs but they were hardly used as were the places on the first floor on top of the VIP area. In fact, I did not have the impression that the show attracted many visitors at least not when in relation to the number of spectators in the main ring. Logical if you keep the extreme temperatures in mind. You had to have a good reason to spend the day in a warm hall while there are plenty of other recreational options to go for, another unwelcome consequence of the heath stroke. However, the national and regional newspapers covered the show very well and usually, that makes a big difference but seemed not to have had enough impact, unfortunately. On the other hand, I had crossed the streets of the city several times but it was only on Monday when I discovered by accident a publicity poster announcing the show. It was not at all an eye catcher, and you had to come very close to read it before you knew what it was about!. If there is a small circus coming in my town, you find posters on every corner and you must be blind to not have seen one. But for a big international event, much more exceptional as any circus, you had to find an announcement by accident. A missed chance!
The podium was nice with LED information on the bottom and Live view on a big video wall on top. The entrance to the ring was also built as a video wall, showing the national flag of the judge when he/she was presented. Contrary to Poland there were efficient security people and a ring steward, but the press was not so happy that all the dogs were lined up in front of them, blocking the view of all the remaining dogs to come, but that is a common problem on a lot of shows. In my opinion, the whole scene missed a bit of color and atmosphere. Grey is the best color for photographers. Indeed the color of the light in the main ring was good but not always even when the dogs were entering the ring, and it was all too bright with little or no contrast, creating an overall dull impression.With some light effects one can create a lot of depth and playful contrast, as long as for the photo opportunities the light is bright, even and neutral as the photographers like. That was a problem on the first day when a moving spotlight was casting colors on the winners. However, there was a very good understanding between the Press and the Committee and that was very much appreciated. On simple request, it was changed for the following days.
There was very little entertainment in the main ring, only an act of a clown with 5 dogs, Leonid Beljakov with his Comedy Dog Show. Not bad at all, but every day the same act was for most people and VIP’s a little too much of it, especially as it was the only entertainment of the evening program. But in fact, if that is all that could be remarked, then it is very little and that means that most of it wasvery good. And since sponsors cut in their budget there was probably little left to spend when it comes to entertainment in the main ring.
The main ring started rather late every day, especially on Friday, and with the finals of both shows every day, the European Show and the Austrian Winner show, it was a very loaded program of about 3 hours! Was it necessary to have the Puppies in the main ring? For both Shows? Every day? And was it necessary for the Austrian Winner to have also veterans and juniors in the main ring instead of just the Group judging? Al this resulted in an overloaded program, moreover, that was the reason why the whole program was delayed every day because they did not finish in time. If that was cut from the program and instead there was a pause of an hour to let the dogs and handlers relax and do a little bit of shopping, it would have been better, the main ring would finish earlier and with the health, people would be glad to return home sooner. What struck me in the main ring was that for the Group judging every time 6 dogs were selected but only 5 were placed. So, two dogs remained in the main ring before the final winner was announced, one was the winner and the other the loser. So for both dogs, the tension grew high and when it was finally announced the winner jumped up while the other dog was not just number two but even number 6, not placed an out of the spotlights. I felt so sorry for these handlers seeing the disappointment on their faces and looking somewhat disoriented around like: “is this it?”, “where do I need to go?”, “am I placed somewhere?”, and finally leaving the ring via the exit in the dark corner. Why then not only selecting 5 dogs instead of 6 or placing 3 dogs instead of 5 so that 3 dogs had to leave, which does not make such a humiliating impression. I had a hard time with that.
As said, the European Dog Show promised to be a real success due to the World Show in China that was no option for 98% of the European exhibitors. It would never be an easy job to transport a dog into China, have the paperwork and visa’s done and make sure to, get the dogs back out of the country without complications at the border. That proved to be a piece of cake for the European Show in Austria with the open borders all over Europe. 13.214 dogs accompanied by 12.000 exhibitors came from 62 different countries from all over the world to participate. I suppose 99,5% of the dogs that entered for the Austrian Winner were dogs that were entered for the European Show in the first place. The best-represented countries were Italy, leading with 2047 dogs, followed closely by Russia with 2030 entries. The Czech Republik was next with 1079 entries, then Germany with 921 dogs, Poland with 864, Austria with 855 and Hungary with 731. Strange that Germany, a big neighboring country, had scored so poorly. 855 for Austria was normal if you know that it has around 9 million inhabitants. Only 82 dogs were entered from the United Kingdom, 17 from the USA and 2 from Canada. Israel had a surprisingly high number of 50 dogs in show.
Show of this size always attracts big numbers of dogs belonging to popular breeds and lots of dogs of very rare breeds. Friday had 93 Afgan Hounds, 165 American Staffordshire Terriers, 120 English Cocker Spaniels, 100 Flat Coated Retrievers, 222 Golden Retrievers, 97 Irish Red Setters, 188 Jack Russell Terriers, 206 Labrador Retrievers, 120 Magyar Viszlas, 89 Scottish Terriers, 128 Weimaraners, 102 West Highland White Terriers and 110 Yorkshire Terriers. Rare Breeds were French Bracco’s like the Braque d’Auvergne, Braque du Bourbonnais, Braque Français Type Pyrenées and the Braque Saint Germain and a DeutscherWachtelhund and there were also 4 Silken Windsprites (Silken Sighthound). On Saturday there were 137 Akitas, 124 American Akitas, 90 Basenji, 112 Swiss White Shepherd, 161 Border Collies, 107 Boston Terriers, 112 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, 223 Chihuahua’s, 98 Chinese Cresteds, 116 Rough Collies, 217 French Bulldogs, 95 Pugs107 Papillons, 99 Samojeds, 95 Shih Tzus, 84 Czech Wolfhounds, 220 Welsh Corgis, 158 Pomeranians and no less than 321 Poodles all sizes. Rare breeds shown were the Ca de Bestiar, Canadian Eskimo Dog, CiobanescRomanescCarpatin and Mioritic; Kishu, Korean Jindo Dog andKromforländer. On Sunday we could find more are breeds as the dogs of Group 6 were on turn. But first the popular breeds. I was surprised to find out that the Basset Hounds are very popular, 84 were entered. There were 190 Bernese Mountain dogs, 150 Bulldogs, 90 Bullmastiffs, 144 Cane Corso, 90 Dalmatians, no less than 217 Great Danes (all colors), 349 Zwergschnauzers and 415 Dachshunds (all types)! But Sunday was the festival of the rare breeds like the BernerNiederlaufhund, the Brandlbracke, and the Briquet Griffon Vendéen, the large variety of the popular Grand and Petit Griffon Vendéens. There was a Cao de Castro Laboreiro, a few Cimarron Uruguayos, CiobanescRomanesc De Bucovina, some CobanKöpegi, 12 Dansk_SvenkGardhund that are slowly growing in popularity, two Continental Bulldogs, a Dunker, two ErdelyiKopo’s and Fila De Sao Miguel, a Grand GasconSaitongeois, a Griffon Fauve de Bretagne, the large variety of the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, two Haldenstöver, a Hamilton St?ver, a Jura Laufhund, a PlaninskyGonic, two SabuesoEspagnols, 3 SchwyzerLaufhunde, some SegugioItaliano, even a SegugioMaremmano, Two TirolerBracke and one SrpskiGonic and a SrpskiTrobojniGonic. As I said, a festival of rare breeds. If you want to meet some of those breeds there are often only two possibilities, or you go to the country of origin in the hope to find them or you come to a World or European Dog Show where you can be sure to find them purebred.
It is always a pity that a show can be broken down and Facebook is the best and fastest means to do that. Be let’s be fair. What would it have been under normal climatological circumstances, knowing that the average temperature for this time in the year would be 22°C? This was an exceptional situation for the organizers. It would have been more tolerable for queueing at the entrance. There have been no incidents with cars, although we all expected it to happen. We would all have been much more forgiving in normal conditions, but unfortunately, as it was warm, everybody was touchy and less forgiving and all small deficiencies were enlarged. But I heard no complaints about paperwork, judging issues, rings, etc, at least not more than on a regular show. There are always people who are never happy and always complaining, but there were no complaints like that in general. The main ring was nice and correct and except Friday, the timing was within the limits. So how can we conclude then? Congratulations to the organizers and the OKV for another nice European Dog Show!
Text and photos Karl DONVIL