This article is from the July/Aug. 1989 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Liz Fucci, Pres.
Ithink the time has come to keep AFRMA members informed about the activities of the fledgling NRMCI!
Our club was co-founded by myself, and by Gina Loiacono, in December of 1988. We held our Charter Meeting on April 16th, 1989, at which time we elected our officers, laid a few ground-rules, and planned our first show.
The show was held in Bloomfield, New Jersey, on May 28th, 1989, with six exhibitors showing approximately 67 animals, about equally divided between rats and mice. “Fox” Television sent a camera crew for their “Reporters” series, but they haven’t aired it as of this writing (16 August ’89). The show, itself, was chaotic, mostly due to the interfering presence of the TV crew, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless, and we were pleased that it went as well as it did. It was, after all, our first show, and for all of us except for Roxanne Fitzgerald, who flew out to be here for it, it was our first experience at showing rats and mice. We were all extremely grateful to Roxanne for her assistance, especially in identifying colors in mice which had given us some difficulty! Roxanne also served as our tie-breaking judge, and she was the sole judge of the pets.
Our club adopted a different approach to showing as opposed to the methods used by other clubs. For all but the pets, we use a three-judge system. We decided to do this because it seemed to be the only way a judge could also exhibit an animal. Each judge marked a score-card, which was averaged by a steward, the total being the animal’s score. Roxanne cast a couple of tie-breaking votes, but the system seemed to work well, and we decided to make only a few modifications to speed things up a little. The other major difference is in our standards and the BIS competition. We adopted separate standards for English mice and American mice. We also show Egyptian Spiny mice. Add the rats, and you end up with four winners (Best American Mouse, Best English Mouse, Best Spiny Mouse, and Best Rat). These four go on to the BIS competition, and the judging is done exactly as in dog shows: the animal which best meets the perfection called for by its standard wins BIS. BIS can be either a rat or a mouse. At our May show, it was a rat.
We believe the time will come when fanciers of a certain animal, Spiny mice, for example, will organize Breed Clubs, and breed shows, much as it is done with dogs . We want to encourage this, because it would tend to encourage breeders of a type to breed better, “typier” animals, and make the “All Breed” shows more competitive.
Other of our club’s activities include meetings, of course, and we schedule four each year, with unscheduled ones being called as the need arises. We had our first Annual Club Picnic on August 13th, combined with an informal meeting to prepare for our next show, which will be October 15th. At present, we plan on having only two shows per year, because of weather conditions out thisaway. Summers are hot and humid, too much to be hauling animals around, and winters tend to be fraught with icy road conditions and bitter cold, making it impossible to plan activities requiring travel. So, for the time being, we hold one show in the Spring, and another in the Fall. Someday, we may be able to have two in the Spring, and two in the Fall, when we have enough people interested in it. We plan to follow the AFRMA lead when it comes to non-show exhibits. There are many opportunities for us here to set up exhibits at flea markets, Village Fairs, etc.
We put out a Newsletter, “Journal of the NRMCI” every two months, and we’re very proud of it! We found out that it isn’t an easy project, nor is it a cheap one, but we think our quality is good, and are always trying to make it better.
For a young club, we’ve been lucky in getting top-notch publicity! The New Yorker magazine did a story about us in April. The Gannett Westchester paper did another good story in June, and we’ve gotten television coverage, too: WABC-TV, N.Y. “Evening News” did a segment, followed a week later by CNN, which sent its footage to Independent stations all over the country. There have been radio interviews, and some interest from the tabloids and YOU magazine (England).
Although the spate of media attention has, up to now, been “accidental” (unsought), we are actively wooing the media for our Fall show, and one photographer has committed to it, WABC-TV is interested, as is the Gannett paper.
Our membership is growing steadily, thanks to the publicity, and it’s good to know that rats and mice are more popular than we had thought, judging by the responses we’ve gotten. Since the only reason for forming a club is to promote our animals and make them as popular as they deserve to be, we ’re off to a good start. We may have a long way to go, but we’re optimistic.
The AFRMA deserves a lot of credit for having served as a model, and for bearing the torch which has led the way for the rest of us. We hope our club and the AFRMA will be able to work together always for the sake of our animals.