by Karl DonvilCharleroi 2016
Charleroi is working hard on its new élan and the results start showing. After a few tumultuous years and even disappearing a couple of years from the show scene, Charleroi is back again. Two years ago they had no less than 1725 entries, but last year the entries dropped suddenly to 1514, but they come back again. They try hard to find new ways by testing things and make adjustments where possible. This year there was an increase again till 1603 entries and say that they had to refuse about 200 entries that where unpaid. They decided to no longer accept any unpaid entries as those entries cause lots of difficulties and often end up unpaid, causing deficits.
The show is as usual in the EXPO halls of Charleroi. This hall is in the very center and have been renewed years ago. I remember the wooden floors years ago, hated by many handlers and dogs for the noise. Now the floors are smooth industrial floors. The entrances has also been renewed a couple of years ago, but I'm still waiting for the windows to be cleaned. As long as I come to this show (more than 25 years) I cannot remember that the windows were cleaned. These halls are bright and usually they have nice sunny weather, but just this sunlight shows how dirty the windows are. Of course this is not the committees responsibility, the owners should do something about it or the city itself. Charleroi has so many unemployed people, I don't understand why then it is so difficult to give those windows a wash. For visitors, often international visitors, the local Expo halls are "the window to the city and its inhabitants" . I really feel sorry for the committee as they can't help it, lacking a better alternative. Fortunately the situation of the halls has no influence on the warmth of the people and the committee.
The layout of the halls was redesigned. Rings on one side, trade stands on the opposite side. Corridor in between, but the rings were moved up a little bit so that there was an extra row where the cages and trimming areas were situated. The result was easy and safe walking on the corridor. We see this layout more and more, fortunately, it's safer and much more visitor-friendly. In the main hall the main ring was switched to the opposite side, away from the (dirty) windows and the sunlight that used to shine straight into the eyes of the public. This is for sure an improvement. On the other hand, the trade stands in this hall were centered around the gate, mainly in an area towards one side, not in a corridor. This was not the best placing. This was a test case and proved not a real success. Next year they will try to make a trade corridor in this hall too. Let's just hope the trade-stand holders will grant them another chance. And maybe, certainly because there is enough space, it should be reconsidered to bring back some animation during the day. And of course it should also be announced in the city. The main ring was covered in carpet tiles alike we see more and more over here. But the company that rented them didn't clean them properly and did not lay them flat enough. The committee told me they will have a look for a better alternative for new year. I am confident that in the very near future they will have a completely new layout that works fine. The future looks bright.
997 Dogs were Belgian dogs, that means that 606 dogs came from the 14 other countries. Charleroi has always attracted dogs from many different countries. The 5th place was taken by the United Kingdom with 41 dogs. We can more and more fully consider the UK as one of our neighboring countries. Alike in Liège there was a Cursinu but there was also another new breed, the Barbado de Terceiro, a Portuguese herding breed. This breed comes in several colors and seems to be an easy and smart companion. On this show there were 4, all different colors and one with cropped ears, like the locals keep them.
There were 18 judges invited from 9 different countries. 8 Of them judged one day only and that brings us to a good average of 59,37 dog/judging day. Mrs.Ceccarelli from Italy had her most busy day on Sunday (81 dogs) when she had popular breeds like Malamutes, Border Collies and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Her compatriot Mr La Barbera had the second best overall score of the weekend with a total of 152 dogs, 70 on Saturday and 82 on Sunday when he had a good number of 29 Miniatures Spitzes. Mr. Meermans D. From Belgium judged 47 English Bulldogs on Saturday along with 22 Dogues de Bordeaux .Mrs.Miglietta from Italy and Mrs.Reyniers from Belgium had also a good score on Sunday, 82 and 81. Mrs.Reyniers had no less than 24 Belgian Tervuerens, very good! The second best Sunday score was for Mr. Steven Seymour from the UK. With 55 Chihuahuas he could finish with 83 dogs in total. The best dayscore however was for Mr.Smolic who, with one more dog on Saturday, and a good score of 80 on Sunday. He ended as best scoring judge of the weekend. Another judge to mention is Mr.Arnould who judged on Sunday only and had 32 French Bulldogs and 35 Chihuahuas, along with a few more breeds. Hi finished with 80 in total. Mr. Torsten Lemmer from Bulgaria was the best scoring judge on Sunday. He judged several Herding and companion breeds. Analyzing the success of judge reveals a lot. Is he/she correct and appreciated, skillful and knowledgeable, perfectly cast or not over-invited . But we have to watch out not to make false conclusions either. A judge can seem less successful while he/she maybe is new in a breed, replacing an absent judge or filling gaps in the judging list.
The best in Show judge came from Macedonia, Mr. Mile Aleksoski. He had also a successful weekend with 67 dogs on Saturday and 78 on Sunday. He had to pick the best out of all 10 Group winners. He judged all dogs before they went back into the pre-judging ring. First to be recalled was the Australian Shepher "Rising's Little Guy For Chalet de Fanny", owned by Mrs;Francoise Lamarche from France. This two-year old male was bred in theStates by Sarah Bowdish and Margo Slattery. He was entered in Champion Class and defeated 23 competitors under judge Reyniers who was also the Group judge. Second to be called back was the Black Riesenschnauzer "Gently Born Chilly Pepper" . He was judged by Mr. Van Den Broeck from the Netherlands. About 3 years ago this male saw daylight for the first time in Russia in the kennels of Ana Vlasova. He is now owned by Gregor Nemanic from Slovenia. The next dog that was called in was the Dachshund, but that was an embarrassing mistake. The real winner was the Black Standard Poodle. Philip Langdon is his master and they both live in the United Kingdom. Mr.Smolic fell in love with this dog. He was the Breed and his Group judge. But "Huffish Almerican Ganster With Atastar" was convincing enough for Mr. Aleksosi too. This male Champion was bred in 2013 by Mrs.Charlotte Sandell. But this means that the Wallonia Dog Trophy this year goes to the United Kingdom. Maybe the Teckel will try another chance next year. And let us hope you come to compete or to encourage him too.