Often dog shows are reviled as abusive and dangerous. Rarely do we get an insight into the positives of dog shows, and it’s easy to forget that there are many benefits for dogs participating in shows. 

This is the lament of dog handler Millie Tottman, the youngest handler in South Eastern Pyrenean Mountain Dog club. Aged sixteen, Tottman has been participating in dog shows since April 2022, handling dogs for family friend and dog shower Ivor Duffel. 

Tottman acknowledges that dog shows do not suit every dog, stating that ‘some [dogs] are too timid’ to do well, but also emphasises the value of the social aspect of dog shows, which she states some dogs ‘thrive’ on. Tottman also adds that the social aspect is also important for the well-being of the handlers, describing the ‘relaxed’ and supportive atmosphere of the shows. 

When asked if she felt anything could be changed, Tottman responded that she felt ‘dog shows are pretty well-rounded.’ She added that she enjoys ‘the people, the atmosphere and’, most importantly, ‘the dogs’. ‘Nothing could be improved’, was Tottman’s final verdict on the matter. 

Clearly, therefore, the negative view of dog shows requires some revision. Tottman’s experiences of dog shows are in sharp contrast with the average view of them, highlighting the disparity between reality and fiction in terms of views on dog shows. Though they may not suit every dog, the social aspect of dog shows is invaluable to both dog and handler, and it seems we must not, to risk a joke, give a dog a bad name and hang him in this situation. 

The little-known value of dog shows should be widespread knowledge, and the benefits should be available to every dog.