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ADDAMO ASKS....

 

Do You Love Your Dog More Than Your Breed?

 

The first thing I want to establish with this article is that I believe there are no perfect dogs. I wish more dog fanciers (including judges) would accept that as a fact.  Perhaps if we could all agree on that fact, the lives of some dogs would be improved (the sometimes drastic measures taken to create the perfect dog would stop) and dog shows would start looking like “dog” shows.  Additionally, wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate the double standards such as the “field” (fill in the sporting dog) versus the “show” dog or the “working” (fill in the breed) versus the “show dog.”?  Why do they often look like two different breeds?  

 

I’ve been pondering how the sport of dogs could have possibly gotten so corrupt that even the AKC whose mission was to protect and maintain the studbook, has failed.  I ask the question, does the fancy love their dogs and the excitement of the show win more than they love their breed?  Did the failing of the AKC to maintain the integrity of the studbook and lack of enforcement create the current attitude that winning is more important than breeding quality dogs?  Has the politics of judges made breeders feel so hopeless that the breeder’s commitment has changed from breeding with the standard in mind to the politics and possibly the personal preferences of judges?  Has it become easier to dye them, cut them, or whatever fakery has become rampant, over trying to breed better dogs and only showing the best?  On the flip side of that is the phenomena of people, who can afford it, breed a dog that has major fault(s), but nevertheless start an advertising campaign on the dog and the dog incredibly starts to do a lot of winning.  Why would a breeder do that?  Let’s face it, the average competitor with a great dog can not compete with an advertising campaign.

 

Have breeders become just producers of puppies or are they also knowledgeable mentors who take the time and effort to educate the novice buyer?  By educating the novice I don’t mean teaching just the ins and outs of dog shows, no, what I mean is teaching the novice about the breed.  Specifically, is the breed history being taught? Is what makes the breed unique being taught, which would include conformation, movement, etc?  Are breeders teaching by example things like honesty in exhibiting or is the example, “win by any means” no matter how it hurts the dog/breed?   Do breeders have a passion and devotion as well as a sense of responsibility to protect and preserve the breed and its standard?  Or are the current breeder’s victims themselves and only know how to be experts in the art of deception such as dying coats, noses, and creative trimming?  When breeders are asked why they are doing something to the dog is the answer, “because the breed standard calls for it” or is it “because I want to win and this is what judges like.”  (I concede that in some cases both answers are correct, but for the sake of this article, I am speaking to the cases (way too many) where both answers are not correct.)  How many times have we all heard the phrase, “this dog is not great, but if I put [professional handler name] on him/her, it will finish.  When a  breeder makes a statement like this, does it seem like the breeder is concerned about exhibiting the best of his/her breeding stock or does it seem like this breeder is collecting champions so they can have a large amount of champions with their kennel name on them to brag about?  Is quantity the sign of a good breeder or quality?

 

How does tattooing, dying, coloring noses, fixing faults, drugging, to name just a few, demonstrate a love for your breed?  It defies the imagination what some dogs must endure to win a ribbon.  How does shipping off mediocre dogs with a handler to an area where all but the three legged finish, demonstrate a commitment to improving the breed in a breeding program?  I don’t get it.

 

Dogs have been an important part of my entire life.  I have owned several breeds; the Samoyed is the breed I am devoted to.  I have loved and cherished every Samoyed I have ever owned, but my feelings for my BREED are far different.  My love for my breed encompasses feelings of awe and respect every time I think of dogs working all day every day and giving their all to their people so that they all might survive.  I think about how those dogs had to be “built” a certain way in order to survive the “lifestyle” and environment that they were born into.  My feelings for my breed are uncompromising as far as what they should look like.  They should “look” like they could work all day every day and give their all to their people so that they all might survive even if they now live in the city.  The Samoyed breed standard says it all.  All breed standards say it all.

 

Judges and breeders should honor and respect the breed standards.  Standards are more than words.  Behind those words is a history.  In some standards, survival of the fittest tests created what the breed needs to be.   For example in my breed, round eyes would be perilous as well as short legs.  Breeders should not become creative or succumb to “fads.”  Breeders should honor and respect their breeds and not the whims of judges who seem to care only about what will make their personal judging careers successful or to the judges who think their personal opinions and preferences are more important than your breed standard.  It’s time breeders step up and defend and protect their standards and demand that judges “keep it professional; not personal!” 

 

Sadly, even when breeders try to do the right thing, the AKC is there to undermine them.  There’s a gal in CA who told me she sold a puppy bitch on a limited registration to a man who in turn gave the dog to his girlfriend.  When the bitch was 5 years old, this woman decided she wanted to breed her and was unhappy with the Limited Registration status.  She contacted the AKC made a big fuss about it and in turn, the AKC contacted the breeder as this woman’s advocate to get the Limited Registration changed to Full Registration.  When the breeder resisted, she was met with questions about where the only other littermate lived and when the breeder said she didn’t know, it had been five years, she was met with questions like, “oh, you don’t keep records?”  The handwriting was on the wall, she felt that even though she keeps meticulous records they were going to find something if she didn’t change her mind.  She was told it was “just one dog” so she relented and changed the registration status.  I guess you could, to some extent, understand why some people just give up and play the game.

 

Is it possible for breeders to see the light about what is going on and what it is doing to our dogs?  Is it possible for breeders to stop breeding “for what the judges like” and breed true to the breed standards?  Is it possible for breeders that are lucky enough to have the financial means to “special” the dogs that are truly special and leave those with serious faults at home?  How does it help the breed when a dog is heavily campaigned (and winning) when the serious fault would prevent it from doing what it was bred to do?  Or if the fault is deemed a serious fault in the standard?  Is it possible to educate today’s new breeders about the importance of learning about the breed they are breeding as well as understanding the breed standard and to change the attitude of “win at any cost?”  

 

For the time being, it seems it will be all but impossible to convince people that the AKC is the biggest betrayer of all of our dogs. Breeders/exhibitors believe there are no other options available for them to continue with a sport they love so much.  Therefore, they will continue to reward this alleged “dog loving” organization by paying money to register their litters and the AKC fee that is part of every dog show entry.

 

Perhaps the best a conscientious breeder can do for now is to get a DNA profile (if it’s not already done) on every dog/puppy purchased and on everyone sold, even the pet quality.  By having DNA profiles on every dog sold it will be a deterrent for people who will not think twice about dog switching.  (See Samoyed AKC Studbook fraud). The AKC apparently is NOT maintaining the studbook with any kind of reliability.  (See more documented studbook fraud articles).  It seems to me the AKC’s focus has changed and it’s not for the serious breeder or the purebred dog and its genealogy.  Be sure to keep accurate records and perhaps someday (hopefully soon) another registry will step up that takes registration and the studbook seriously.

 

Perhaps if breeders and other concerned people would write to the AKC telling them that there is a big concern about the integrity of the studbook based on the few documented cases published in The Dog Press and you want there to be more accountability for their decisions.  You can contact Thomas Sharp at tws@akc.org and tell him you are disturbed at decisions he has made when it comes to cases he has handled that have had DNA as evidence.

 

Another thought for the serious breeder who would like another venue (one that cares about the integrity of the studbook) to exhibit their dogs is the UKC.  All dogs are required to have a DNA profile.  Shows are far and few between, but I understand all you need to do is create a club in your area to put on a show.  It could be a new start for the “sport of dogs” and the dogs will surely benefit most of all.  Aren’t the dog breeds really what it’s all about?

 

It’s just a thought…

Gini Addamo symphonysams@earthlink.net

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