25, 2002 Two weeks ago I attended
the "Euro Dog" all-breed dog show in Paris, France. Euro
Dog 2002 was the third largest dog show in Europe this year with
over 11,000 dogs competing during a three day period. Over 250 Great
Danes from a variety of countries such as France, Belgium, Germany,
Holland, Hungary, Russia, and Italy, were present.
European dog shows are quite different
from American dog shows. Professional handlers are few and far between.
Most of the dogs are exhibited by their owners or in some cases, their
breeders. This seems to result in a more casual atmosphere... a MUCH
more casual atmosphere. In fact, if the GDCA's Great Dane Specialty
was a tea party, then Euro Dog 2002 would be – by contrast –
a food fight! Okay, I admit that's an exaggeration, but it was pretty
wild at times in and around the two designated Dane rings.
Double handling is a term used to describe the attempt to influence,
from outside the ring, the actions or responses of competing dogs.
Double handling is not permitted in most show venues, and in cases
of infringement the dogs involved can be disqualified. Apparently
at Euro Dog, while double handling may be banned on paper, it is
not banned in practice. The sidelines were a veritable circus, with
owners and family members shouting for their Dane, waving their
arms and sometimes shoving onlookers out of the way while they maneuvered
from one side of the ring to the other, all in an effort to get
their dog to "look alive" for the judge. As chaotic as
it sounds – and it was pretty chaotic – nobody
seemed to mind. In fact, double handling appears to be an integral
part of the fun and "culture" of showing.
While double handling kept things
pretty lively outside the ring, things weren't much calmer inside
the ring. Again the atmosphere was anything but formal. While the
Danes were lined up in the ring waiting to be examined by the judge,
there was very little "stacking" going on. Many dogs were
fidgeting and handlers allowed their dogs to sit or lie down in
the ring. I even saw a few handlers stretch out on the floor with
their dogs. One fellow actually crawled out of the ring with his
dog in order to chat on the sidelines while the judging was underway.
The "down and backs" were often comedic, with dogs pulling
their exhibitors this way and that way. One black Great Dane in
particular did not want to be examined by the judge. After a short
struggle he succeeded in pulling his handler right out of the ring
and into the sidelines. The judge calmly followed. The dog subsequently
refused to allow the judge to look in his mouth, so it was left
to the handler to show the dog's teeth. After the dog calmed down,
all three of them returned to the ring as if nothing unusual had
on in the same ring (different class) a Dane made a large solid
"deposit" right in the middle of the ring. This occurred
while he was being examined by the judge. The poor judge was without
a ring steward. (The ring secretary had not shown up, either, so
an onlooker was filling that role.) Nobody came forward to clean
up the mess, so the judge calmly continued judging the class. It
happened to be a very large class. The judge skillfully directed
the down and backs to avoid the accident. Toward the end of the
judging, he lined up the dogs in two rows – one on front of
"it" and one behind"it"– while he made
his cuts. Eventually the ring was cleaned up and nobody was the
worse for it, except perhaps the dog who committed the faux pas.
He didn't win.
A European View
I chatted ringside with a German friend who was exhibiting at Euro
Dog 2002. She lived in the US for awhile and has exhibited at the
GDCA National Specialty, so she is very familiar with the American
style of showing. She asked me what I thought of the European style.
"It's certainly different," I told her. (I can be terribly
profound at times, can't I?) Her response was interesting. She told
me she much prefers the European style of showing because, "it
allows you to get a better sense of the dog."
More to Follow
There's more to tell, of course, but it will have to wait until
next week when we'll take a closer look at some of the European
Great Danes. Au revoir!
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