By Bryan Smith
Designer and Developer of the Show System
Why do we show hedgehogs? Do hedgehogs benefit from shows? These are important questions and are worthy of an answer.
Back when the show system for hedgehogs was first being planned, the premise was simple: Create a show system and the organizational infrastructure around it to help both hedgehogs and their owners. At the time we introduced the shows back in 1995, the breeder's market had collapsed, owners were few and far between and the hedgehogs themselves were suffering due to a lack of understanding and just plain, raw knowledge about their needs.
Through the shows, the intent is to bring everyone together, helping to disseminate the knowledge out there, giving everyone a common goal and purpose and to promote hedgehogs to increase the pet and breeder population based upon the idea that we could either let it all wither and die with pet owners unaware of how to care for hedgehogs or we could do something about it.
In the first scenario, the hedgehogs would be either unmanageable and unfriendly or would die quickly due to ignorance regarding their proper care - not a very nice ending for the pet hedgehog. In the second, we could increase the pet population through active promotion and at the same time develop a support system that would ensure not only the survival of the hedgehog in North America, but help them thrive. You see, the more people that have them and understand them, the better they will be cared for. The more people care about them the more people will be studying their needs. All of this in turn results in more people seeking to protect them from abuse and neglect. In essence, a pet support infrastructure is created once enough people have hedgehogs and are able to communicate their wants and desires to other owners.
Thanks to hedgehog shows, we managed to get hedgehogs featured on the front cover of the Wall Street Journal, featured on the NBC evening news, in newspapers across the USA and Canada and even in articles as far away as Japan, Brazil and New Zealand.
Therefore, the number one benefit of hedgehog shows is public education and promotion.
By bringing everyone together at shows, owners talk with one another and with experienced breeders, vets and a wide range of others. They share their knowledge, their ideas, their love of hedgehogs.
Therefore, the number 2 benefit is the sharing of knowledge.
Whenever an animal becomes popular, there is always a need for the support of rescue groups. Someone might set up a rescue here and another, there, but without any real consensus, the efforts of these groups can and do conflict. This can be counterproductive to the goals of rescue. The shows act as a means of promoting rescue groups and since the shows are under the umbrella of an organization such as the IHA, the rescues are also brought under that umbrella, providing them with a consensus as to policy and the means by which to advertise and seek financial support.
Therefore, the number 3 benefit of shows is the support of rescue.
So, do the hedgehogs benefit from shows? Definitely! Do the hedgehogs enjoy the shows and have as much fun as their owners? I know some love the attention and actually thrive on the show environment so I must also say "yes" to this.
If you can, attend a show and see this for yourself. You won't regret it.