Night trip and early morning
Salzburg, that’s it. World Dog Show 2012. When you’ve already got dachshunds by more luck than good sense that stand out from the crowd and got acquainted with a breeder who took it upon herself to organize accommodation so that all you have to do is get in the car, then you shouldn’t shy away from traveling. The plan was to have packed by Tuesday, have a little supper after work, walk the dogs extensively and then relax and follow the first wave of traffic jams before Ascension Day through the night southwards.
Well, as we all know, plans can do anything but last. I’ll spare you the details. Just this: the sounds became sharper, the clock ticked louder and the dogs wondered. Arriving in Salzburg, I breathed a negligent sigh of relief and thought I had reached my destination, but I had done the math without the navigation system. Our accommodation was supposed to be on the edge of the Hohe Tauern; in itself about an hour’s drive from Salzburg. After two hours of lovely-looking snow-covered mountains and valleys, we found ourselves on smaller and smaller, steeper and steeper roads, paths and trails and were surprised when we reached the snow line. Well, a house was recognizable, but no dachshunds to be seen. Cautiously and shyly we stroked around house and yard until we succeeded in locating a no less astonished farmer who confirmed what we already suspected: we were wrong. The whole upper part of the valley had the same place name and we found the way down was even more sinister than the way up.
Of course, the delay also had its good side; with a big hello we arrived just in time for the breakfast of the other dachshund friends who had already been here for a few days, and Engels Tango (called Bruno) had the opportunity to see his “wife”, who should deliver puppies on May 25th, even after the mating act, to see what he had done. The tiredness of the all-night stay was blown away, the dogs were scratching their hooves and so we set off with part of the group on our first exploratory hikes in the most beautiful mountain landscape. We were guaranteed to attract attention, because a pack of smooth-haired dachshunds of all colours and sizes is quite something. The only thing that caused concern was the capacity of the rubbish bin along the hiking trail, which quickly filled up with poo bags in all colours. In the evening, the barbecue was fired up and plans were made for the next day; unfortunately, it also became obvious that part of the group did not seem to have realized what it means to be eight in a house with 18 dogs. They retreated to the kitchen, protesting that everything was fine, and obviously fermented away.
When we returned to the house the next afternoon after another wonderful hike, the surprise was great. The house had been vacated by four fellow travelers; we looked in vain for a sign. So far, so good, and we didn’t want to complain about more space for the remaining four of us. But it was a pity that the organizer of the whole thing had been abandoned by her fellow traveler with four dachshunds, one of them highly pregnant, during this incredibly adult action and could now watch how she was to get back to North Rhine-Westphalia.
Saturday, we had not entered for the Austrian Club Winner Show, which was lucky, because in the morning Bruno’s “wife” started childbirth. While our remaining companions drove to the show, we tried to keep an eye on her and to calm her down as much as possible. But when she took a nap in the afternoon and started eating again, we thought it was a false alarm and went for a walk with our dogs for an hour, during which I remarked that the bitch would certainly stay until her owner was back. And so it was. As soon as Brigitte came back from the show in the evening, we started deliver six beautiful puppies after Engels Nina-Ninette and Engels Tango until midnight. Now, with a new litter, the World Dog Show was out of the question and only three of us made our way to Salzburg at the crack of dawn on Sunday.
In the car, the weather forecast cheerfully heralded midsummer and announced temperatures of more than 30°C due to the Föhn, as well as various traffic jams due to the large crowds around the exhibition grounds, so that we were finally able to park the car after two hours and make our way into the halls.
The first praise goes to our friends from the ÖKV: From the precheck at the entrance to the allocation of parking spaces to the veterinary and admission checks, everything worked smoothly and like clockwork. No queuing for hours and thus reduction of stress for the animals to a minimum. Perfect. There was also enough staff in the halls, who insisted on keeping to the marked areas in a friendly but firm manner and counteracted any threat of chaos. What a pleasant contrast to many a large German event, whether under the umbrella of the DTK or VDH!
It was also exemplary that during the event well-understood animal welfare was enforced by repeatedly breaking open the vehicles of exhibitors who had left animals in the vehicles after calling out in the hall without result. Likewise, a watchful eye was kept to ensure that the animals in the halls were kept in sufficiently large containers and did not hesitate to intervene if this was not the case. Quite frankly, this was an active effort that would have done well at many other events as well.
The individual classes were of course full and it became clear that it is also up to the judge to ensure that the judging runs smoothly and also satisfies the exhibitor. While one judge divided large classes in the ring and ensured that the dogs also found the space to show themselves, the other ensured that a hobbling and stumbling developed in the ring when the first one already ran into the last one, which was almost still standing.
It is noticeable, not only in Salzburg, that the number of placed animals that cannot get into the stall without help seems to be increasing. This may not even have anatomical causes, but it may indicate husbandry conditions that are not ideal and can lead to fundamentally frightened and insecure animals. Standing at the edge of the ring and watching handlers throwing themselves to the ground at every opportunity to put paw after paw in -unnatural- position and doing the same on the judging table behind the back of the judge, who is about to judge another dog in motion, can make you doubt the meaning of showing and not so much the ability to see, but the will to see of the judge. Sometimes I wish the judge would innocently pick up a dog that is completely overextended, put it down again and let it take its own position.
It is no secret that in Germany money is only exceptionally earned with the dachshund. This is much different in other countries. Regardless of the breed standard sovereignty of the DTK, against the background of this economic potency in smooth-haired dachshunds, especially miniature and KT, “cute” dachshunds, low-built and chubby, seem to de facto reset the standard by their sheer numbers alone. One cannot help feeling that the judges partly capitulated to the expectations of the exhibitors and the organizers.
One may accept or reject this development, but one must take a stand on it. Mere appeals, as honorable as they are, to pay more attention to type, seem to be limited in their effect to the possibly less significant German-speaking judges and are not sufficient if the result is that standard-oriented judges are used less and less and placement decisions are made at the shows, of which one must think that they were caused by other things than the use of the breed standard as a yardstick. Of course, this alleged circumstance is often invoked when the question is raised why so relatively few DTK dachshunds are shown internationally and reference is made to the ominous World Dog Show Paris 2011. It is precisely because most of them do not earn any money and breeding is done as a hobby that one shies away from effort and costs in view of the allegedly predictable questionable placement decisions. Nevertheless: especially in Salzburg, which is not really a trip around the world, I would have expected considerably more dogs and exhibitors from the DTK. No language barrier, no long journey and therefore no significantly increased costs; a popular tourist region and Ascension weekend. If you stay at home, it’s your own fault. And please: Don’t be afraid of the World Dog Show or other shows abroad. Apart from the fact that most of the handlers have dressed up a bit, it’s just a normal dog show and they only boil water and run around in circles, just like anywhere else. But if you don’t come at all, you leave the field to others and allow them to set the standards.
However, due to the heat, we decided not to go straight back to Berlin as originally planned, but to return to our accommodation, Brigitte and the puppies, take another walk there and leave late in the evening. After one or the other microsleep, we were back in Berlin in time for work on Monday and swore to each other “Never again!”, albeit in a low voice and knowing that we had just lied to each other.
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