Sunday, December 9, 2018

Match Frustration

With Trooper at a fun match in Reddick, FL
As you may remember, my dog club has agreed to hold a GSD Specialty Match in conjunction with a breeder's annual BBQ next April. I volunteered to take on the role of Match Chair. It’s going to be great and we’re going to have fun. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.) Unfortunately, the AKC doesn't make things easy.

I’ve been reading through the AKC Match Regulations (very dry, btw) and have gleaned some important information.

Since my club is an AKC sanctioned club, we must hold an A or B match; a fun match (which is what I wanted) would be authorized if it was restricted to club members only. “Any event for which the club solicits or accepts entries from nonmembers must be approved by AKC as a sanctioned match.” Which means paperwork. Ugh. However, a B match is a less formal than an A match, so I suggested we go that route. Everybody agreed.

Part of the paperwork includes a formal application. Per AKC, the application needs to be approved before we can start advertising the match –- therefore, the sooner the better! Required info on the match application includes:
  • Match date and start time
  • Exact location of match
  • Will match be held independently, concurrently with a show or in the evening after a show?
  • Will match be held indoors, outdoors or both?
  • Is match for all breeds, group only or specialty (single breed)?
  • Is match an A match or B match?
  • Is match conformation? Obedience? Rally? Tracking? Combination?
  • Which classes will be offered?
  • Name/address/phone/email of Match Chair
  • Name/address/phone/email of Match Secretary

I gathered the Match Committee and started asking questions:

Who will take on the role of Match Secretary? Unlike regular shows, a Match Secretary must be a club member. The duties are similar to that of a Show Secretary: take entries, hand out armbands and keep track of the judge’s book. We must have a name for the application. Fortunately, a B Match does not need to produce a Premium or a Catalog. YAY!

Which classes should we offer? The standard classes are: 6-9 Puppy, 9-12 Puppy, 12-18 Months, Novice, Bred by Exhibitor, American-Bred and Open. We agreed to those plus 4-6 Puppy and Juniors classes. We can offer “Non-Regular” classes as well, but we need to tell AKC what they are ahead of time. I asked AKC what non-regular classes were and got an answer that didn't make any sense whatsoever. There is no list defining available non-regular classes (I asked). However, it's not a whatever-you-want catchall either because the one I asked for -- sterilized pet class -- was emphatically disapproved by the AKC rep.

Who will judge? We don’t need to have an AKC judge. A professional handler or experienced breeder would be fine, as long as he/she knows GSDs and doesn’t have dog in the ring. We're courting a few professional handlers.

So we made the necessary decisions and I sent in the application. It was sent back. The AKC didn't recognize the address as one listed in their system and we needed to clarify a few things. I did and resubmitted.

With Jedi at a fun match in Jacksonville, FL
Then the application was sent back again. The address listed is outside of our designated territory so we need written permission from both of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Orlando and the Tampa Bay German Shepherd Dog Club before our application is granted. Two questions here:
  1. Why couldn't the AKC have said that the first time? (Obviously someone looked at the address.) and
  2. How can the small town of Dunnellon belong to both clubs? (BTW, there isn't a published list of designated geographic territories -- I looked.)
I've emailed the presidents of both clubs and now we are waiting. Again.

People -- including me -- complain that there aren't many matches for beginners and young dogs to get their feet wet. Old-timers will tell you that once upon a time there were matches nearly every weekend. Now you're lucky to find 2-3 a year. It's sad. And frustrating.

The AKC makes the entire process as difficult as possible. Newbies must learn how to put on a match (or show!) on the fly. There are stacks of dry, vague rules but no concise step-by-step instructions for beginners. Ferreting out info online is tedious. And the "help" I get from the AKC is akin to the "help" I received from Microsoft when Windows crashed. I guess this is why the all-breed clubs use superintendents to put on their shows. And why matches have been abandoned. Seriously, if a club is going to go through all the trouble of finding a location, filling out mountains of paperwork, soliciting volunteers and buying ribbons (yes, the AKC has specific ribbon requirements) then why not just hold a regular show? What a pain this has turned out to be! I'll keep you posted. -- K

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