Neuter Classes added to Dog Shows

Tenterfield Terrier doing AgilityTenterfield Terrier doing Agility

One of the many reasons the numbers have declined at traditional dog shows is that dog shows were the shop window where we could display what we were all about - breeding pure breed dogs. So dog shows had to be confined to entire or non-desexed dogs. But with so many dogs now de-sexed, classes specifically for neutered dog could significantly boost numbers at dog shows as well as interest pet owners in dog showing. This story highlights such a case.

Traditional Dog Showing

'Honey' weaving'Honey' weaving

There are many reasons why people show dogs. For some it is the ambition of winning their first 'Best Exhibit in Show' all-breeds which creates an insatiable desire to win it time and time again. But for those whose dogs are at the other end of the spectrum going to a dog show means the joy of competing, an excuse to socialize, to catch up with friends, or fill some other void in their lives.

Having been brought up in the old school where dog shows were regarded as the 'shop window' for seeking out breeding material, my initial reaction when the ANKC decided to have 'neuter' classes was 'What's the point?' Certainly there is no hiding the fact that numbers are declining at all our dog Shows. So, I thought maybe the method in the ANKC's madness was that bringing in the title 'Neuter Champion' might bolster numbers. But I remained cynical when the ANKC made neuter classes optional at all Shows.

The Story of Anita and 'Honey'

Anita and 'Honey'Anita and 'Honey'

Whilst I was still pondering about the purpose of neuter classes, I saw them attracting multiple entries wherever they were offered. But the personal journey of one little Tenterfield Terrier called 'Honey' and her owner Anita made me re-think this issue.

Anita has a disability which leaves her feeling socially isolated. But Anita had found some solace competing in Agility with her two Associate Registered Tenterfield Terrier-type dogs. But as her dogs aged, she needed a new dog to continue her involvement with Agility.

So Anita looked on the internet and found Honey, a registered Tenterfield Terrier who had already gained a few points towards her Australian Championship title and had also been bred just once. Honey had to be re-homed because her previous owner found she could not cope with all her dogs when her husband died. So for Anita, Honey opened up all the possibilities of the dog show world with which most of us are familiar.

'Honey' exiting the tunnel'Honey' exiting the tunnel

Honey completed her Australian Championship title with Anita handling. In the beginning Anita thought about breeding Honey but decided against it. After all, Agility had always been her 'thing'. It would be far less complicated if Honey was de-sexed!

As Tenterfield Terriers are amazingly athletic, with Anita's experience in training, Honey easily completed her Agility title (AD) as well as her jumping excellent title (JDX) which has different rules to Agility. Honey continued to do so well at Agility, she even filled Anita's dream of qualifying for and competing at the Sydney's 2012 Royal Easter Show.

But living in a country area, Anita began missing the relaxed social atmosphere of dog shows. So when the Neuter titles came into force, Anita was overjoyed. But she was ecstatic when they started winning sashes for in Group awards, a thrill Anita had not experienced en route to Honey's Australian Championship. In all, Honey has been awarded Best Neuter in Group 5 times. She has also been placed 2nd and 3rd in Veteran Sweepstakes. So, three years after gaining her Australian Championship title, Honey also became a Neuter Champion. It is my understanding that Honey is the first Tenterfield Terrier in Australia to gain the Neuter Championship title.

'Honey' on the A- Frame'Honey' on the A- Frame

So for Anita showing Honey was part of the therapy to fill the social void she had previously felt in her life. She entered dog shows specifically to gain the Neuter Championship title. As Anita says, "Honey has now found her calling and her star shines bright". But so has Anita's!

Expanding our Dog Showing Base

But for traditional judges and exhibitors like me, Anita and Honey have proved it is time to step outside the box. As dog show numbers continue to decline we must really consider new innovations. Many people enjoy competing, even in Neuter Classes. As they are now optional, maybe more Clubs should consider offering them.

Meanwhile, let's join in congratulating Anita and her aptly named Tenterfield Terrier Ch and Neuter Ch Neverland Hearts on Fire AD. JD. JDX.