JUDGING DOGS IN ISLAMABAD, continued from page one
It is equally ironic that I, an outspoken Christian, was warmly welcomed in a 97%-Muslim country, while here in Sweet-home Gospel-Alabama we see hate flyers distributed by the Ku Klux Klan!
In my December 2015 newspaper column, I spoke of the dangers and turmoil that exists in Pakistan, arising not from racial roots but from ostensibly religious differences as well as political and corruption problems. In many parts of the world I have traveled, safety is had by use of armed guards and barbed wire, but in America safety is a matter of what neighborhood you live in, or dare to venture into after dark or after anti-police riots.
The general ambience in Pakistan was different than experienced in the western (European and North-American) world, as most markedly evidenced by the barbed-wire and armed guards in many places, but this apparent difference can be deceptive. I saw some women in hijabs, even a couple that were so camouflaged that you could not even see their eyes, but most wore more western-style garb or the layered and colorful look that I see in so many parts of the world from India to Bolivia.
Very independent, “Western”, contemporary, cultured. Many of the men wear western style clothing, which you can see in the pictures I've provided, but some wear the shalwar (pantaloons/drawers) combined with the kameez (body shirt).
Many older“conservative-traditional” people still observe the Muslim teaching about dogs being religiously “unclean” animals, requiring prayers and washing if one were to come in contact with them, but most people are not affected by this tradition.
Firstly, there is not that high a percentage of Muslims who have dogs and, secondly, those that do, are less strict in such secondary “religious” matters. Sort of like the many Southern Baptists I know who drink alcohol.
The traditional Muslim adherence to hospitality was evidenced by all the friends of my hosts, and good sportsmanship was also apparent among the competitors at the show. It is such a shame that it is not practiced by all who claim that religion. It is also sad that there is so great a schism between various sects and expressions of Islam.
In these countries, people are divided by sectarianism in much the same way as people in the United States are often divided by race. Over there, irrational prejudice is more a matter of religious differences than skin color.
Just as it is eminently true that “travel broadens one”, there is also an effect upon the peoples that are visited in the course of such travels, not just on the traveler. The more we interact with decent people of other cultures, the more tolerant we (and they) become. This is not the same as giving up your core values, but rather more like casting off burdensome false prejudices the way you would remove a heavy and superfluous overcoat after walking in the warm sunlight for a while.
It is expected, in AKC, TKC, UKC, and other shows that the catalogs will be meticulously accurate, but in some countries there are more frequent spelling errors and commissions. Still, an analysis of the marked-catalog results showed me that bloodlines are fairly well split between Western and Eastern Europe, with some dogs imported, and most younger ones born in-country.
I was asked about the origin of the bloodlines in Pakistan and across what we call the Middle East. Interestingly, Pakistanis actually trace their ancient heritage back to South Asia. I believe it was the second Bush Administration that coined the "Middle East" term in order to denote a group of countries known as the Muslim world such as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.
Of the adult imports, most are from Germany and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Czech Rep., etc.), probably about equal. There is a small number from France. Of the younger ones, most are born in Pakistan, but some youngsters also imported.
As you might expect, the better dogs generally were shown by experienced and very capable handlers, whose “style” would be indistinguishable from those in GSD specialty shows anywhere: good control, good exhibition by the dogs of their true structure and gait.
As you would find anywhere, novices were not as smooth or in control, but they did as well as their counterparts in American shows.
The very efficient stewards had dogs ringside and ready for the next class, so I did not have to wait as I sometimes must at small shows elsewhere.
Most “show” photographs were taken later, after the show and as sunlight was diminishing, but a few were made when the next (large) class was coming in.
For a very heavily-populated country where the religion identified by 98% of the population officially identifies dogs as “unclean,” there are still enough people who have the more-“Western” views we associate with dog-lovers and sportsmanship, so dog shows are bigger and more attended than in many other parts of the world.
Thanks to Internet and to some countrymen who have traveled abroad, there is no lack of familiarity with how to handle or how to run a show. However, one huge difference is that (unlike in the West) dog shows are a huge spectator sport in Pakistan. Part of the reason is that there are so many people looking for entertainment outside of TV, and part is simply because of the huge and dense population.
I can only guess that, besides local public advertising of events (something that almost never happens in the USA and Europe), the relatively lower number of amusement choices has this effect on the crowds I see at such events in Pakistan, China, India, and other Asian countries where I judge dogs.
The exhibitors (and spectators) are attentive to critiques, eager to learn the finer points of the German Shepherd Dog. As this one of the oldest still-judging authorities on the breed, I was quite willing to share important components of breed type and soundness in the GSD.
My conclusion is that Americans and Europeans really should do much more work in publicity and “special events” to draw the public away from their boob-tubes and other attractions.