February Chairman's Report
-- Relentless Positive Action --
In my August Chairman’s Report, I introduced the concept of “relentless positive action” as a driving force in delivering new programs, new events, and new outreach. That philosophy is one that most certainly drives our best breeders in their determined quest for constantly improving their lines, and subsequently, their breeds. Like those breeders, the American Kennel Club is on a determined quest for improvement – in events, and subsequently, our sport.
To paraphrase former New York Mayor Ed Koch, “How are we doing?
The Grand Champion title was launched May 12, 2010. The entire logic behind the program was an understanding that a large number of owners wanted to continue to compete in conformation after achieving a Champion title on their dogs, but they did not want to actively campaign their dog for a national ranking. We believed the Grand Champion program would offer those exhibitors a meaningful goal in continuing to show their dogs and, therefore, help entries at shows. In the year prior to the launch (2009), the Best of Breed class accounted for almost 374,000 entries. In the first full year of Grand Champion competition (2011), Best of Breed entries increased by almost 78,000 entries. Last year, the Best of Breed class accounted for almost 476,000 entries, an increase of 102,000 over the base year. The only explanation for this increase in entries is the Grand Champion program; there is no doubt the positive impact this new program is having on entries and the finances of our clubs. We believe the National Owner-Handler Series will continue to build Best of Breed entries.
The 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition – which provides the opportunity for training, socialization and an introduction to conformation – became an approved sanctioned event on July 3, 2012. There were 96 Beginner Puppy events last year with a total entry of 2,171 puppies. The 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition is an excellent public outreach program to bring new exhibitors and new dogs into Conformation. I encourage every club to consider offering this event.
The Beginner Novice optional titling class – a very popular combination of basic obedience and rally – seems to be having a positive impact on Obedience entries, which are up almost 7,300 entries for 2012. Not only are the Beginner Novice classes up, but all obedience regular and optional classes are seeing positive growth.
The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) – a fun and healthy event modeled after lure coursing that is open to all adult dogs - is attracting a following. While Lure Coursing did not exhibit growth in 2012, the CAT program added more than 6,000 entries.
Agility continues to grow and we believe the Time 2 Beat Agility Class, a unique, “hybrid” titling class, is having impact on that growth. Last year, Agility – our second largest sport - increased entries by more than 117,000.
The AKC Canine Partners program, launched in 2009, continues to grow and bring new exhibitors and dog lovers into the world of AKC. Last year, these dogs and their owners, many coming from 4-H clubs, entered our events more than 40,000 times.
What Are We Working On?
The 2012 Conformation entry statistics reveal two other interesting trends. The number of new dogs being exhibited has remained basically constant at 41% of the total dogs exhibited. However, it appears people might be waiting until their dogs are more competitive before beginning to show them – most likely a result of the economic state of the nation. Creating additional opportunities to show young dogs is a priority for us. Fortunately, we are currently vetting a unique concept conceived by an active breeder/exhibitor/judge that appears to hold significant promise for the future.
Next month in Tulsa the AKC is hosting the first ever AKC Rally® National Competition in conjunction with the Obedience and Agility National Championships. This event will help bring recognition to those owners and dogs that train for and enjoy the sport of Rally.
AKC My Dog Can Do That!® has proven to be extremely successful in bringing new dogs and new exhibitors to experience Agility and Rally. About half the participants are Conformation people who were interested in learning about a new sport and half were people who had never been to a dog show. We are developing a program to make it easier for clubs to activate this program locally.
The success of Beginner Puppy and My Dog Can Do That! are perfect examples of using the AKC registrant database to benefit clubs, owners, and their dogs. We will continue to find ways to use this powerful tool in support of our clubs and their events.
Our continued success in events depends on our continued ability to innovate new programs. AKC Staff is committed to doing just that. While not every program will be successful, the spirit of “relentless positive action” requires that we stay open to new ideas and are willing to risk the occasional failure.
Our success also depends on a bit of relentless positive communication. Now that you know some of our success stories, let’s all help spread the word. As in all sports, momentum is part of the game.
Your comments and suggestion are most welcome email@example.com.
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