November 3, 2008

Dog Shows in Thailand

One of life's pleasures are our canine companions. Their love is unconditional and the friendships they help us develop are long lasting.

While dogs and dog shows are not a typical part of being a Fulbright scholar. They are an important part of my life. Through the sport of purebred dogs, I have made friends all over the world -- Australia, Brazil, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, Russia. As a licensed judge, I have judged dog shows in the U.S. and many of the countries listed above.

Before arriving in Bangkok, a couple of people worried. "Isn't that the place they eat dogs?" "You're not taking a dog with you are you?" Well, I am here to say that I have yet to see someone eat a dog in Thailand. I have seen street dogs, beg for dog food. I've seen mannequin dogs (scotties and daschies) used in department store advertisings. I've seen well kept dogs in stores, keeping shop with their owner/managers. And I've seen and judged a dog show in Thailand.

Before arriving in Bangkok, I contacted a few people I know in the U.S. who are from Thailand but also show dogs in the U.S. They graciously provided me with some names of other people in Thailand who enjoy the same obsession with dogs and dog shows as I do. My thinking was that it would be great fun to attend a dog show in Bangkok to meet people here and to compare the quality of dogs. It would also be a way to meet people in Thailand who are not part of the academic communicating I interact with routinely.

As a judge, I also was interested in learning how large the shows are in Thailand and how they are operated. Thailand Kennel Club is a member of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and so the shows are conducted differently than in the U.S. Terriers include the same breeds as in the US AKC shows but also Cesky Terriers, Silky Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier and English Toy Terriers.

I was very honored when I was asked to judge Terriers (Group 3) and Companion and Toy Dogs (Group 9) as well as Pomeranian specialty and Best Thai Bred Dog in Show. Held on September 27, the show I judged at was part of a three day cluster of shows. These shows are held under the auspices of the Kennel Club of Thailand but are put on by local breed clubs who rotating doing all the paperwork and arrangements for the shows. My hostess for the show was Bensri Chiayah, who breeds Pugs and also owns a West Highland White Terrier.

The Thai Kennel Club granted me permission to judge all breeds in Group 9. The breeds included in this group include: Bichon Frise Bolognese, Boston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Chihuahuas, Chinese Crested, Coton de Tulear, French Bulldog, Griffon Bruxellois, Havanese, Japanese Chin, King Charles Spaniel, Lowchen, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Papillon, Pekingese, Phalene, Poodles, Pug, Shih Tzu, Tibetan Spaniel and Tibetan Terrier.

Sponsored by Beagle Club of Thailand, the working group the show was held at a shopping centerBangna Hall Central City Bangna, in Bangkok on September 27, 2008. Because the space is rather small, there were only a couple of rings. Therefore, we we had to take turn judging our breeds. On the panel was Mr. George Kostopoulos (Greece) who heads the judges committee in Greece, Dr.Passiri Nisalak (Thailand) and Mr.Kari Jarvinen (Finland) , and Mr.Roberto Tesoro (Phillipines). It was truly an international panel. While waiting for our turn to judge, we discussed everything from American elections to FCI politics to global business issues in Asia.

One thing I have learned since being in Thailand is that nothing starts on time. Dog shows are no exception to this rule. Scheduled to start at 1 p.m. I didn't begin judging until around 3 p.m. I began my judging for the day with the Pomeranian Speciality. While I did not get a catalog, I would estimate there were about 20-30 dogs entered in the specialty. This is equivalent to what a regional specialty might draw in the U.S. I was impressed by the quality of the dogs. They generally had the correct silhouette and moved truly. Dogs were also in excellent condition and presented well. Coats were nice and of correct texture. In the U.S. I am used to seeing both male and female handlers. However, there were very few female handlers. the dog that I gave the specialty to moved a little cleaner and true than it's nearest competitive. But on another day, it could possibility have been reversed. Both were of good type, proportions and silhouette.
I was also impressed by a younger dog that finished its Thai championship at the specialty. Really pretty type (a perfectly shaped powder puff) in silhouttee.

I had to smile when one handler showed several dogs to me. Each time he did, two little boys sitting ringside would spring to life and clap wildly. While I never found out for sure, I am guessing they were clapping more for their grand dad than the puppy he was showing. But still it was a nice puppy.

In the all breed show, there were not too many terriers. I gave the group to a lovely Norwich terrier (like the dog in the movie Best in Show). This one, I later learned, was an American bred championship and multiple all breed winner, Am. Th. Grand Champion Devondale's Master Marmot Phil. Bred by Lois and Anna Bellenger, it was co-owned by Saipin Puranabhandu, who has owned several top winning terriers in Thailands including a sealyham, kerry blue and now the norwich. The Norwich went on to win Best in Show honors under the Greek judge. Not bad picking for an American huh! There was a nice young bull terrier and staffordshire in the group of dogs as well. Alas, for me, there was no scottish terrier.

In Group 9, the entry was much larger with papillon, pugs, Maltese, Shih Tzu, a poodle, chinese crested, Chihuahuas of both varieties. I was particularly impressed with the depth of quality of the pugs, a papillon was of exquisite type with beautiful butterfly-placed ears, Chihuahuas were a little more varied in quality and type. Shih Tzus which happen to be a breed I like a great deal were of nice quality as were the pugs. Great depth in the classes for pugs. The breed class made me work hard to decide which one I liked bested.

While the dog show was not as large as those held in the U.S., the exhibitors were well trained, presented their dogs well and there was good quality among the dogs. I certainly would enjoy judging in Thailand again. Dogs bring out the best in people whether in the U.S. or Thailand.

Khob Pra Khun Kha

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