Bernese News 14th September 2016


Helena Turner (Tangyachates) emailed;

"Thank you to all male dog handlers for your support regarding showing at Stoneleigh.

"I have sent a copy of my letter (31.8.16) to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of GB together
with a list of names ofthose in agreement. An acknowledgement has been received.

"I wish to publish the content of my letter [below] for the benefit of those that haven’t seen a copy 
and for those showing bitches as the health and safety aspects also apply.

"I would be pleased to receive any further comments or opinions. Please contact me by 
telephone 01797 226566 or 07511 614804 or by email 

"I have been a member, almost since inception, of the above Club, have been a keen supporter
of Club events in the South of England and try to encourage new memberships, I would like to
thank the many officers and the committee over the years for their dedication to the Club and I 
am extremely grateful for the hard work done by the current committee making events memorable

"Many members regret that our once world famous Bernese Weekend is now two separate events.
The Autumn Garden Party and Working Weekend incorporating carting, obedience, agility, KC 
Good Citizen and all the social and fun events.  This is now held at Priors Marston in early 
September and the GB Club Championship Show held later in September. I am under the
impression that this unfortunate split was due to the dissatisfaction of the Stoneleigh venue. I
stand to be corrected if this is not the case.

"I would like to focus on the GB Club Championship Show as I believe that this once prestigious
show is being downgraded. In 2013 the show was held in the amazing space at the Kennel Club
Building. In 2014 and 2015 on arrival, I expressed my disappointment that a decision had been
taken to hold the show outside in the two paddocks. I have since spoken with two of the committee
members and was told by each ‘The consensus of opinion was that the show be held outside`. 

"I am therefore writing on this occasion with my views regarding 

a) the welfare of the dogs and
b) the safety of the handlers. 

"I will for ease of reading list by numbers the areas which I feel are of concern:

1.1  Heat causes both stress and distress for our heavy coated breed.
1.2  The most important requirement appears to be that the show should be held outside. It is not
a garden party nor is it just a social occasion.
1.3  People travel long distances and at great expense to compete in this particular show and to
view the progress of the breed.

Welfare of the dogs

2.1  In the early morning the temperature may well be sunny but cool, but the heat in 2014 and 2015
increased during the morning and became unbearable for the dogs (and people) from midday when
the older dogs were being shown.
2.2  In these conditions one cannot expect the dogs (specifically the males) to give their best.
Reluctance to move well and when standing having to face into the sun.
2.3  At General Championship Shows there are water butts and/or standpipes available and a vet
on site. Our dogs are a heavy breed with thick dark coats and I know many feel the same as I - to
put our dogs in a risk situation from heatstroke is irresponsible.
2.4  May I suggest the hire of a combination of fans and cooling fans if the forecast is hot weather.
Two companies with depots in Birmingham are able to help and I have attached an estimate from
CAS-Hire, their recommendation between 4 and 5 units. The other company is Andrew Sykes. I am
not technically aware but even just a couple of fans to move the air would be appreciated I am sure
and would be seen as being responsible for the welfare of people and dogs.
2.5  I would like to request that the schedule and catalogue include the telephone number of a vet
on call. (This may be required on arrival.) However, if anything happens by the rings, by the time
one retrieves the car, loaded and gets the dog to the vet (25-30 minutes if one doesn’t get lost!) is
a considerable delay if heat stroke was identified.  With such a delay the chance of survival is very
much reduced.

Safety of handlers

3.1  I do not think that the two paddocks that are used outside are ‘fit for purpose’.
3.2  I fully understand that the Kennel Club are responsible for the upkeep of these paddocks and
not the committee.
3.3  One year the grass was so long that members of the committee were forced to do maintenance
A mower was obtained and the ‘bitch’ ring was cut but the mower broke down half way through
cutting the ‘dog’ ring!!      
3.4  Half the ‘dog’ ring had cut grass all over it and the other half was long grass.
3.5  The ‘bitch' ring, although it might be classed as being more level, was very slippery as the
ground was still wet and several of the puppies fell when turning.
3.6  The ‘dog` ring has along slope to it and dogs look bum-high going down, round the bottom
tails act like rudders and are often high then there is the long hall back up the slope and the dogs
do not appear to be moving freely. In fact one year the judge could not identify if a dog was lame
because they all appear to move badly!!
3.7  There have been both uneven patches and bare patches in the ‘dog’ ring and handlers 
concentrating on the surface of that ring, found it difficult to show their dogs to advantage.
3.8  Why is it now generally thought that there is a 'dog' ring and a 'bitch'ring?  It would have been
fairer to alternate each year. 
3.9  The parades etc are held in the 'bitch' ring so I assume the committee must feel that is the
better ring.
3.10  The judge’s tables in the ring are too far away from each other, both near the building but
both in the right hand corner so it is quite a walk to check when showing bitches and dogs
especially when the PA system breaks down!!
3.11  There have been complaints that the grass areas around the outside of the rings smell. 
Could this be due to the fact that when a previous hire took place the dogs were inside and the 
verges were used as exercise areas?
3.12  Finally there is a great risk of handlers tripping up. There are many members still showing
at 50+ 60+ 70+ and even 80+. of course younger handlers can fall victim too.  It is well known
that there have been falls over the years with long term serious consequences. The falls that come
to mind: 
*  Wendy Westlake (hyper-extended knee) unlevel ground,   
*  Trish Goodyear (shoulder) - trip,
*  Gill Rumble (broken wrist) – wet grass, 
* Sonja Gorbould (knee ligaments).

"I understand that a risk assessment should be done at every show. I would be grateful to know
who is responsible for carrying out the assessment for this show also to see the risk assessment
records of the past two years. 

"I am aware that the above remarks are my opinion only, from a competitor’s angle and as an 
owner concerned for my dog. The many points raised are not meant to be a professional risk
assessment. However, I have conducted my own survey of 53 club members that mostly show
males.   Majority of names were taken from the dog entries of the 2014/2015 catalogues of the
GB Championship Shows. I was unable to contact a very small number of those entered in the
catalogues due to holidays and consideration due to the loss of their dogs and with the
duplication of names in 2014/2015 catalogues my mini survey of 53 members/exhibitors has been
extensive ..... 41 (plus me) agreed with my comments, a further 11 exhibitors agreed in principal
but 7 had not seen the final draft of my letter and 3 decided not to add their name to the list.

"One observation I would like to include here is that although entries generally have gone down
this ought to not apply to what should be the most important Championship Show of the year for
Bernese owners.

"Entries in 2013 = males 80 (total 196),
                  2014 = 79 (total 183), 
                  2015 = 57 (total 158)
It is interesting to note, the statistics from the 2015 entries show less of a reduction in the bitch  

"I hope you find this interesting and I respectfully request the committee reconsider working our
dogs outside in the sun/heat in paddocks not fit for purpose.

"Please confirm receipt of this letter within 4 days and advise me when you will be bringing this
matter to the attention of the committee and when I will be informed of any decisions made.
Thank you.

Helena Turner".


Jude Simonds


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