WHO MAKES A DOG SHOW WORK?
Addamo Asks in Part 1...
June 2006 | TheDogPress.com
Gini Addamo, Dog Show Reporter
My last article on studbook fraud and the burning question “Who is Thomas Sharp?” has only led to more questions. I learned, for better or worse, more than I wanted to know. The flood of information caused me to sit down and look at what we have here.
Still no answers on those questions, which leads me to examine the only thing we have left since we now know the AKC Stud Book is, for all practical purposes, useless. Even more hurtful, it appears to me that AKC has shown it knows it and does not care! So if we cannot depend on our pedigrees, we still have dog shows in which we can prove our breeding results, right?
Let’s begin with the three most important humans that comprise a dog show. Dogs can’t be left out except that they are just the innocent pawns and in many cases helpless victims in the “sport” of dogs.
First, we have breeders and exhibitors that (to name just a few): dye coats, dye noses, implant fake testicles, tattoo poor pigment, drug dogs to hide or enhance temperament, use wigs, creative grooming that hides faults instead of enhancing assets, braces, surgery to fix eyes, tails or whatever needs “fixing”. Some of these procedures are performed on the show grounds practically in front of AKC Reps. Sometimes these techniques are extreme.
Ringers are used to finish unfinishable dogs. In the old days ringers were used to get OFA certification and eye clearances on dogs that couldn’t pass. These same breeders are very helpful in teaching the next generation of dog fanciers how to perform these tricks of the trade.
What did your mentor teach you?
Next we have professional handlers who are also instrumental in creating new and improved looks for the various breeds by “expert” grooming techniques. Has anyone seen the body trimmed Samoyed in the ring? I wonder who it was that started the over trimming of the sporting breeds? Some of the most extreme grooming techniques, like slicing, breaking or otherwise setting a tail carriage are done by “expert” dog handlers. I heard that at one show there was a line of Golden Retrievers waiting their turn to get their tails fixed. This professional handler was caught and received a slap on the wrist and it was back to business as usual. Must we take all their dignity away?
Next there are the judges. Not all, but way too many don’t need to read the standards, all they need to do is read the latest rag to see who is doing all the winning and play it safe by putting up the most popular and most advertised. The classes must be a real bitch to judge.
When a judge is desperate for future judging assignments, it must be even more difficult to judge dogs. Then there are the judges who believe it is their right to ignore the breed standards and put up their personal preferences even when their preference is a fault. When did the power of deciding and shaping what our breeds are suppose to look like go to the personal whims and preferences of the judges? Is the win more important than defending the breed and its standard that the breeder compromises and breeds to make the judges happy? Apparently so.
Wigs are common knowledge in poodles, right? Why aren’t the judges looking for them? I was just told by a judge that there are seminars for judges teaching them how to judge a poodle so as not to disturb the wig. I have asked judges why they put up dogs that have been illegally groomed for example. I’ve heard this consistently, “it’s the best dog in the ring.” To heck with the standard! Wouldn’t nipping it in the bud with a placement at the end of the line with an admonishment of, “love your dog, bring it back to me again when you haven’t (fill in the blank) be more productive? It’s almost impossible now to do that in some breeds since often all of the dogs have the trendy (fill in the blank), because the exhibitor thinks that is what the judge wants.
What a lost opportunity. Is it too late?
I would like to take a look at the AKC Representatives and what their job is and how they could help the sport while still being loyal to their employer. There have been (and there still are) many who were able to do both. The problem for Reps today is that they can be in a position of conflict through no fault of their own. We should all look at that situation.
Related Article: Part Two of Who Makes A Dog Show