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A secretary's lot is not a happy one!

BEING THE show secretary of a club and in charge of entries for a big show can be quite a stressful occupation, especially when one considers that it's not an occupation at all, really, but something which is done in the name of our hobby, of dog showing... in other words, for FUN, writes NICK MAYS.

Becky Johnson is Secretary of the United Retriever Club and recently organised the Club's annual championship show staged in Malvern on August 11th... the same day as the total eclipse of the sun which crossed the UK, with totality scheduled for Devon and Cornwall.

'Well, as everyone knows by now, the pundits had predicted that there would be hundreds of thousands of cars clogging up all major motorway and road routes into the West Country with people hell-bent on seeing the eclipse," says Becky. "Initially, I was a bit concerned about people getting to the show on time, but as the day drew nearer, the weather predictions were not good and it became clear that the predicted mass influx of eclipse-watchers wasn't happening.

"Even so, I had some downright bizarre phone calls from exhibitors! One woman phoned me and demanded to know what I was 'going to do about the eclipse'! Like I could stop it happening or something.

Gloomy
"Another exhibitor asked me what I was 'going to do' about the traffic on the M5 so he could get to the show on time. I mean... I ask you! I try to do my best for all exhibitors, but directing the traffic on the M5 and holding up a major celestial event involving the sun and the moon, just because we're judging some classes at 11.15 am, well... I think that's a bit beyond even me!"

As it turned out, the traffic wasn't too heavy on the day, and the eclipse, although quite entertaining, did not plunge the whole show into total darkness, but merely turned conditions a little gloomy for a few minutes as Malvern experienced 95 per cent totality.

Becky smiles and takes it with good nature, on the chin, so to speak. "Basically as long as one is up nice and early to divert traffic away from the M5, and provided one has a sufficient brolly to block out the eclipse well then anything is possible, she chuckles. 'For next year's entertainment - well any ideas welcome!! But seriously, it was a super show. The Committee is to be congratulated - they work very hard and deserve all the credit they get. Makes my job very easy, eclipse or not."

Becky concludes: "I do get lots of positive phone calls from exhibitors who enjoy the shows and take the trouble to say how much they enjoyed them, and I don't ALWAYS get hassle every time I query something with the KC, but I know plenty of fellow Show Secs who do."

Indeed, the woes of a Secretary don't stop there, as another Show Secretary, who wishes to remain anonymous, relates; 'Yesterday was a classic. I was filling in a Show License application form and it asks you to put the size of the venue in square feet. I only had the size in metres so I telephoned the Kennel Club to query the matter. I eventually got through to the appropriate department after a long wait to be answered, and asked if that would do. I was told that no it would not do and if I did not work out the conversion rate myself the Society would be liable to a £50 fine. Not to be outdone I said that I supposed that as they were still using feet and inches I supposed they had not advanced to calculators and still used abacus frames - they were not amused.

"I did the conversion myself!!!"

But for the hapless Show Secretary, things just continued to take a turn for the worse.

"I was planning on booking judges for an upcoming show and was planning on inviting a Finnish judge," says the Sec. 'So I called the Judges' Department at the KC and asked for an Overseas Judges Questionnaire and was told that they were only overseas judges only!"

Amusing though the anecdotes about the KC may be, there is a slightly worrying side to the situation. After all, WHY should there be such a serious problem with calculating a show's size in metres? After all, the UK has been on metric measurements since the early 1970s. Added to this, the total lack of understanding shown by some staff members when show secretaries and breeders call is in itself cause for concern. Several callers to the KC's new phone number have found the line constantly engaged or, as in one case, have let it ring and ring for 15 minutes without an answer, at which point the phone line goes dead.

OUR DOGS spoke to KC Press Officer Phil Buckley who swiftly checked each point and answered within half an hour.

"There were some technical problems with the phone lines last week, which was down to BT. I'm pleased to say that they have now sorted these problems out and that callers shouldn't experience any further problems," said Phil.

"On the subject of measurements at shows well, there shouldn't have been a problem. I've spoken to our Licensing Department and they have told me that they went metric two years ago, so there shouldn't be any problem with providing measurements in metres, as long as the measurements are correct. The Show License book gives conversion charts for metric and imperial measurements."

Aware
Phil continued, with a smile in his voice; 'Incidentally, the Show License for any requires that the show must provide 20 square feet per dog, although I'm not sure what that it is in metric.'

Phil concluded on the matter of the Overseas Judge' Questionnaire. "These are only ever sent to the Club Secretary. They make the request, our Judges' Department checks their details on computer and then sends out the forms. It's possible that the Secretary in question was put through to the Shows Department, which is very large and came across someone who wasn't au fait with the procedure, whereas the staff in the Judges' department are completely aware of procedures. "We do try our best to please and, most often, we succeed."

Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Our Dogs

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