E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge/Exhibition Editor,TheDogPlace.org
Do breeders and owner handlers no longer understand the sport of dogs? “Show and go” doesn’t get the job done. You are either in, or you are out.
Examples: People bump a dog up to Specials class without first asking the competitors if they would prefer that the dog stay in the classes and hold the major. People double-enter and don’t show up. Owner handlers drive miles to get to that major only to find someone else “slept in” or didn’t go. Time and again, we hear “the major broke” but sometimes exhibitors come to ringside to get a number and they see a few numbers aren’t picked up and so, assume there is no major. Then due to late pick ups, find it is THEIR FAULT the major didn’t hold because they didn’t compete and the rest of the armbands were picked up at the last minute.
Do breeders still count the “Specials”, especially now with “Awards of Merit” entries, when it comes to possibly winning over the Specials and picking up a major? Sure Groups are tough but a judge gave you the honor of representing your breed and you skip Group competition? And did you know when if ANY breed in the Group has a major, and your dog wins the Group, it counts as a major for your entry?
Breeders Discourage Future Breeders
Breeders are, and will always be, the backbone of the sport and the future of dog shows. When I read we must do things to attract newcomers to our sport, and then hear the complaints from buyers who speak of contracts, breeding restrictions, exorbitant prices, and in some cases rudeness, is it any wonder buyers run to the nearest shelter for their pet? Between our actions, the lack of breeding litters, and restrictions, we don’t have to worry about Animal Activists. We are shooting ourselves in our own proverbial foot!
I have attempted to teach new breeders or owner handlers only to have them disregard my effort. The future of the sport depends on them but I suppose it is the times. I can say “What was” worked a lot better that “What is”. If we refuse to honor the sport of dogs and play by the rules, we defeat our purpose. If we all breed what we like and disregard the standard, we will join the ranks of the “doodle dogs”.
Breeding To The Breed Standard
Another example: Why won’t the breeders and handlers stand up for the Standards? I love breed type, the look of eagles, the virtues that separate one breed from another. I love “cropped ears and docked tails”. A big, substantial Great Dane one can “look in the eye” represents the Apollo of the breed. Nobility is a look; I love the keen presence of each individual breed, be it large or small. I grieve the loss of these attributes, but they can be preserved IF breeders take breeding to standard seriously and evaluate their dogs honestly.
When evaluating dogs, does one keep a dog for a single attribute, or does one choose the overall dog? It starts there. IF you breed for eye improvement and it shows up on the worst puppy in the litter, and you choose to keep that “eye”, the next generation will take you backwards. IF you choose the best overall puppy, keeping your positive virtues intact, your reward comes when you later breed that dog. In the next litter will be a choice of an overall puppy that incorporates the desired eye. This requires patience, but “socks in” your virtues and moves your program forward.
There are breeders, and then there are BREEDERS! True breeders know how to incorporate a virtue into their program without losing their own “look”. Meeting a breeder with four generations of “OFA excellent” hips in her dogs, she asked me how it could be that all puppies in the last litter were dysplastic? I’m no expert in genetics, but I am an expert regarding “You plan, Nature laughs”, keeping us on our toes. It’s always been that way. But the sport and a good breeding program will survive if we just carry on.
Present and Future Breeder Tools
With frozen semen, opportunities are abound. Hesitant at first regarding Award of Merits, I look at it now as an opportunity for newcomers to view many “greats” of many breeds. Frozen semen and Award of Merits allow access to studs long forgotten affords a fresh approach to possibly getting “back on track”.
Many dogs age well and are still breathtaking. Even those who don’t age as well have a certain dignity and presence that is undeniable. It’s regrettable only one dog and one bitch can be recognized when so many are so deserving. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your breeding program.
The future of dog shows and that of your breed is in your hands. It’s a worthwhile responsibility. Don’t sit back and think others are fighting the battle to preserve either one just for you. Get involved before it’s too late and the privilege of owning a dog is taken from us all. BREEDERS ARE THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT.
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