The "FCI Cynological Days" in Brussels

Marking the climax and also the culmination of the FCI's centenary celebrations, the "FCI Cynological Days" were held on 11-14 November 2011 in Brussels. Delegates from 35 countries were offered a programme catering for all tastes: a cynological symposium, a high-class "FCI Centenary World Champion of Champions" competition, a gala evening, and, to round things off, a trip to Bruges, the UNESCO World Heritage City, and an open day at the FCI headquarters.

Some 150 people took part in the symposium on "Dog and Man: quo vadis? Knowledge and Prospects”, greatly enjoying the very interesting presentations addressing current issues.

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Hans W. Müller
FCI President

Interview with Ermanno Maniero

I suppose it was a nice surprise when you received the invitation for such a special event. Did you expect it?

To be honest, I had to re-read it a few times because I couldn't understand how I had been selected for such a special invitation, and because I thought it was so momentous and historic.
I never thought about this invitation, which carries so much responsibility, because I didn't even know anything about any meeting or who was responsible for designating the three judges.

The rules for such a show are somewhat different and it was probably difficult to send away one of the two dogs in front of you during the first rounds, knowing that they were both much nicer than some that came later?
Was there a dog that was voted away by your colleagues in the first rounds that you wanted to be still in?

Although this type of judging belongs to the synthetic method without points as a system of elimination, the biggest difference is that the judging of the entries by the panel of judges is completely visual, except for the four finalists which they have the chance to examine.

It is understood that the judging is carried out separately by the three judges with subjectivity in judging each breed, as well as factors as the moment itself, the dynamic, the visual angle for each judge and others; it's very feasible that the entry that each one of the judges might appreciate may not always appear the same way to the others.

In reality, you have to consider that all the dogs were champions and that to reach the level of this type of judging, they had already been selected in other shows and refined by many excellent judges, so there were a lot of high quality entrants who lost out along the way.

Did you follow the judging during the day?

We, the judging panel for the finals, were in the hotel until midday before going to the show ground, so we didn't see any entries before the judging, which I think was absolutely right, except for a few entrants which we saw in the last part of the journey to the hall, which we understood not to have been chosen as they were heading for the exit.

Was the overall quality of the dogs really high as these were all champions?

It's worth highlighting that the entries we were to judge were of high quality, but there were cases where it was possible to see a difference, although others were very close.

Were you happy with the organization, was the main ring OK and do you have any suggestions or remarks?

I found the organisation excellent and the timings allocated for our part ran according to the programme and the presentation and movement of the entries in the ring was very well directed, with background music that served to enhance the finalists in that event.

As a personal suggestion, I think that the location of the three judges was right, but I felt that the small partition walls separating the judges partially blocked the view of the public sitting behind the judges, as well as creating small obstacles for the cameramen and photographers who had to strain to get the best shots and at times invade the judges' space.

I think that in the future, the two walls could be eliminated and the three tables for the judges kept to a very particular and simple design, without their notes being visible to each other and simply pushing, manually or with a remote control, one of the two buttons, according to the colour, which would be shown by lights behind the judges. The judges should also be completely separated from photographers, etc., by decorated ropes or some other system.

4 dogs were placed at the end, can you give a short impression? (feel free to do this dog by dog or all 4 together).

Regarding the four dogs in the final, without doubt they were all excellent specimens with the proper qualities of each breed, worthy finalists. We had an Irish Wolfhound from group X, a Welsh Corgi Pembroke from group I, then the Shar Pei from group V and the Scottish Terrier from group III. My congratulations to all of them!

The ultimate winner, the Irish Wolfhound, deserves an extra word; can you share your opinion on this one?

The ultimate winner, the Irish Wolfhound, a historic breed, achieved a well deserved place in the final, if we consider that it is not easy to attain the qualities we saw and quite difficult to establish the impressive and well structured characteristics that you need to reach the ideal for this breed.
To sum up, a Giant among dog breeds and a Giant for the FCI Centenary.

How was your general impression on the Cynological days?

They were unforgettable days, the programming was precise, the service excellent, the timetables kept, all from the moment I arrived; the following day I was a speaker in the conference in a room of the very elegant and convenient hotel Le Plaza, in which I was lucky enough to hear high level speeches from the other speakers, which became a true exchange of knowledge.

The day after that the visit to picturesque Bruges, historic city and the capital of the province of West Flanders, also known as the Venice of the north, due to the numerous canals that criss-cross the city, was an unforgettable day, ending with a long walk that was a test of everyone's efforts.

The next day we visited the FCI's offices in the town of Thuin, its headquarters, which many of the delegates and visitors didn't know; it was an historic visit, since the FCI was founded in Belgium. During the visits, we received the fine attentions of the Executive Director Yves Declercq, who showed us in detail every office and room and the jobs undertaken in each of them, as well as future extensions planned the buildings.

In the gallery of portraits of the ex presidents of the FCI, the last portrait is of our president Hans Müller, who has been at the helm of the FCI for almost a third of its hundred-year existence, and I really do give him the very highest compliments for the dedication, transformation and development of the dog world, and for almost tripling the number of affiliated countries. To this I add my congratulations to all the people who worked to bring about this magnificent event and in particular to the Société Royale Saint-Hubert, founded in 1882, being one of the five countries that formed the FCI and which was in this case the host country for the Centenary and fully deserved it.

Should it be repeated more often?

I think that events of this type not only need to be repeated often, but I also believe that we should institutionalise this even each year to celebrate the anniversary of the FCI, creating a rotary system for the country that wants to host it on each continent.

Ermanno Maniero