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Thursday, 06 March 2014

Helsinki Winner, Nordic Winner, Finnish Winner

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At the recent huge winter shows in Helsinki, Our Dogs asked Kari Järvinen to look back at the Nordic Show held in Helsinki in December and forward to the World Show in August

Svetlana Valoueva asked the questions:


First of all I would like to thank you for such a great start to this December weekend and for giving me the opportunity to get first hand information about the upcoming World event that will be held in Helsinki in August of 2014.Can you review the Winner shows and explain how they came about?


December 2013 saw one of the world’s largest ever canine events in Helsinki - a dress rehearsal for the World Dog Show. I have been running the two day December show in Helsinki for many years, but as the cost of the venue continued to rise we faced a difficult decision: we either had to move the show to another place, change dates or raise entry fees. After a great deal of thought we found another way and took the decision to add an extra day to our traditional event to make it into a two back to back show cluster, perhaps first in Europe. This allowed us to keep entry fees at the reasonable level and still meet the costs. I am pleased to say it worked very well. 

The Kennel clubs of the Nordic region are members of the Nordic Kennel Union. The Nordic Winners show is the most prestigious event of the area and each year it runs in a different member country. Finland had its turn in 2013 and we immediately decided to turn it into something special. Three huge international shows over one weekend would also be a training opportunity for the coming World Show - also a three day event.  We also hoped to make a profit for the World Dog Show which will be very expensive to run as it will be just one event stretched over three days.  As the Finnish Kennel Club takes immense pride in hosting this celebration of dogs in its anniversary year, no expense will be spared.

This is a very interesting insight, exhibitors rarely think of a dog show as of business venture:


It is important exhibitors understand this for they rarely think of a dog show as a business venture where organizers must stay within their budget and balance the books afterwards. We calculate the budget very carefully and a small army of accountants and financial advisers go over everything to make sure that we do not go over our projected expenses. All receipts are accounted for and every single line of expenses must be justified.  So we go about it in a very professional way, taking our many responsibilities very seriously. 


How many people are involved?


300-400 to people are required to run the show – and this does not include the small army of subcontractors building stands, laying carpets, setting our rings and all the hundreds of other jobs which are needed for a successful show

It is like running a large corporation.  I am now retired but  I  was  managing  director   of  Nestlé  Finland  so running a show is not too difficult. I have many good, trustworthy people around me so I can delegate various tasks confidently. 

Every working group has a leader and there are protocols for various procedures. Everything gets into reports that are reviewed easily. 

The venue is very expensive so we have to keep setting up and breaking the show down very tight, working at full capacity and being very efficient. 

How do you manage to co-ordinate it all?


We created a computer program that allows everyone keep detailed track of their progress. It is much easier to follow instructions than improvise on the spot. It creates a strict timetable which helps to keep everything rolling.  We have developed this system over many years and we are constantly improving it. 

By the way, we added a novelty at the Nordic Show – there were iPads in every ring and Ring stewards were logging in show results in live time.  No more waiting for text messages: friends and families of the exhibitors could see the results appearing on their home computers straight away. I hope that everyone that follows the World Dog Show from their homes next year will appreciate the efficiency of having show results online before the end of the day. This new program also has access to all show results in Finland, so it would be easy to pull up show results of any dog without doing complicated searches.

We also have fully automatic program for printing catalogues which also integrated into our Kennel Club’s database.  

The WDS we will be even more hard work with in August and two back to back International shows again in December, but we are very optimistic. 


One show down and two more to go – what are your impressions looking back?


Friday is a work day, so we did not have many visitors but we were thrilled by the high entry and although this it was good for dogs and their owners and handlers, we need more general public at the show.  However we caught up on the Saturday and Sunday.  Still, in the absence of their parents who had to work, we had crowds of children and students attending the show. Many teachers chose to bring whole classes in for tours.

Entries to dog shows have been decreasing all over the world, but this weekend the entry was over 23,000 dogs - what is Finland’s secret?

It is simple - Finland is a very dog loving country. Every year Finnish Kennel Club registers over 50,000 puppies and we have over 600,000 dogs 80% of which are pure bred and registered. The Finnish Kennel Club has over 130,000 individual members and unites over 2,000 various clubs located all over the country.  Overall, the number of individuals that belong to the Finnish Kennel Club is over 500,000. In a country with a population of only 5.25m it means that 10% of all Finns are seriously involved in different aspects of the dog sport. And I am proud to say that there are no stray dogs in Finland.


Why do the Finns love their dogs so much?


Finns love their dogs: there is a very deep connection between the dog and the man in the history of development of the North when man simply could not survive without a dog.  Dogs helped their owners to hunt, guarded their homes against animals and intruders, pulled their sleds and herded the stock. Dogs saved their owners even after death - it is traditional to make hats or gloves of dog skins. The dog really is an essential and a huge part of the Northern life. We love our dogs and show our deep appreciation to the traditional breeds of the Nordic countries.

I am happy to say that most Finnish breeders do not look to make profits in selling puppies. They travel far from home to find right combinations for matings and show their dogs all over the world. Many dog owners are actively involved in other dog sports: agility, obedience, IPO, hunting. Training dogs is very important to us too. Yes, Finnish Kennel Club holds top position in the FCI in dogs show entries, but we are not only about running dog shows. We have as many entries in various working trials as we have in conformation shows. After a weekend at a show our dog people change their clothes to the working gear and go hunting or tracking with their show dogs. 

And our dogs are long lived – our veterans are always in great condition. Dogs are not just our pets: they are part of our lives. We do not have large kennels: most dogs live at home and not many people keep more than 3 or 4 dogs at the same time. Breeders try to place the best puppies with their relatives or friends who agree to co-own them and participate in the breeding program.

Owners of large kennels, if they remain professional, can do a lot of good for their breeds, but as a businessman I know how easy it is sometimes to start chasing profits instead of quality. However, in Finland we try to keep everything on the open – you can check out veterinary and show records of all dogs registered in our Kennel Club.  We strive to produce healthier dogs.


The world famous Finnish Kennel Club registry KoiraNet ensures that all breeders have open access to the breeding stock in the whole country at their fingertips. When was it opened to the public and what was the initial reaction of members of the Club?


We launched KoiraNet 5 years ago. It has full information and constantly updated database of kennels, breeders, records of all litters, health results, working trial results, show results, character test (LTE) results, mental test (MH) results, statistics, imports and many other essentials. Of course there were concerns and some breeders fought against it, but the majority understood and supported our initiative to make these records public. I am glad to see that most of our breeders try to go further than just producing the next BIS winner. This is a very short term goal and does not bring satisfactory results. 

Finnish breeders have much broader goals and take full responsibility for their dogs’ health generations in advance. This is clearly seen from abroad – more and more overseas breeders come to Finland for the expert opinions, information and dogs. In fact, KoiraNet helps not only our breeders, but I am proud to say that it is also an international asset.  


Do you have a dog at home?


My own dog now is a Chihuahua named Ci Ci but in the past I was best known for Boxers and Beagles. And my late wife bred Scotties and West Highland White Terriers.  But I barely have time for my own dogs now as I travel so much and have so many responsibilities – one of which, of course is the Chairman for the World Dog Show.


Do you still enjoy the dog game?


Of course, but I realise I will have to retire soon and, in any case, it is important  to bring new people on board.  The Finnish Kennel Club is getting younger – you can see so many young faces around the show these days: exhibitors, stewards and volunteers. 


Where are you up to now in planning for the World Show?


Well, we are six months away from the World Dog Show and entries are still coming in but the longer people wait to enter the more difficult it will be to find accommodation and make arrangements for travelling. Most of the hotels that accept guests with dogs are already fully booked and it is getting difficult to find a place on a ferry or buy a plane ticket. For instance, Thai Kennel Club officials are organising a charter plane to Finland just for the World Dog Show. It will be cheaper than travelling with commercial airline company and every passenger can have a dog with them with no limitation. Kennel Club of Japan also picked up this idea so the Finnish Kennel Club is working with large groups as well as individual exhibitors. They are helped to negotiate with hotels and shuttle buses to take visitors to the show venue and back. 

August is the time when most Europeans take their vacations, so this also has to be taken into consideration.  So why not come to Finland a few days early and have a vacation before the show. 

The last World Dog Show in Finland was held in 1998. In 1998 many reports said that Finland set a new standard of the dog show and so we are under additional pressure to give the best show of our lives. It is not important for us to break any records in number of entries but we are much more concerned about maintaining the highest quality of the show and making it memorable for every single participant. 

This I can definitely promise. 

Helsinki Winner Pictures - December 13, 2013

Nordic Winner Pictures - December 14, 2013

Finnish Winner Pictures - December 14, 2013


Read 2818 times Last modified on Monday, 12 September 2016

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