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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM DOG SHOW JUDGES, BREEDERS, EXHIBITORS & HANDLERSYour Letters To Editor are one of our most-read features!  

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Breed Standards: Terrific article by Katie Gammill in the February edition of HEADlines about Preserving Breed Standards!  I was a professional handler and judge in the sporting breeds back in the ‘60’s and 70’s.  At that time I had two wonderful books that helped me tremendously in forming the bases for my evaluations.  One was the AKC’s The Complete Dog Book  (July 1956), which I inherited from a friend and the other was a fabulous book called Visualizations of the Dog Standards ( May 1963) put out by Popular Dogs magazine.  The AKC book gave precise point scales for each breed and the Visualizations book did a great job of pointing to each of the desirable characteristics on a real picture of a dog of that breed. 

Between the two, I had a pretty darn good idea of what the national breed club was looking for in each breed. The point scale was invaluable, as well as very spelling out precise categories like Minor fault, Serious fault, Very serious fault and Disqualification fault at the end of each standard.  I talked to one of the representatives of one of the sporting breed parent clubs some time later when the new standards were coming out without point scales and asked them why they had eliminated the point scales.  The answer was that it was too hard for the various members of the clubs to agree on what attributes to give the most and least weight to.  Which leads to:  If they can’t decide within the club, how can you ask a judge to decide?????  I think that the point scales should be mandatory for all breeds.  If you want a judge to choose the best specimens of the breed standard, then you need to give them the tools to do that with.  As long as they are guessing, based on seeing one example of one dog with supposedly a good hip, coat, ears or whatever, you are leaving your breed open to morph purely based on the judges not understanding what is important to the breed.  Deann Haggard (Please read: Preserving Breed Standards)

Breed Judging: As I sit and reflect upon the Boxer judging at the recent Celtic Classic shows, I find that I cannot hold my tongue regarding the exceedingly poor quality of judging in a breed I have worked hard in for 43 years to produce quality dogs. I have been fortunate to have owned and/or bred some of the top producing Boxers in breed history. One cannot hardly look back 10 generations in most current producing line's pedigrees today without finding one of my dogs. I was also married for 11 years to an AKC licensed handler from the days when that title had true meaning. Handlers reputations were made on the quality of their show string. What I saw in York in both the classes and the "NOT SO SPECIALS" class was not very noteworthy. Least noteworthy were many of the professionally handled dogs.

     Having said that, I have to wonder what is going on at the dog show today when so called "Top Handlers" walk into the the ring with dogs that years ago one only saw with the "Scab Handlers" and proceed to win. I can appreciate the need to make a living but what does taking mediocre animals to their championship do to the breed except diminish the quality and the value of that championship title. It appears to me that neither the handlers nor the judges seem to realize or care that they are the stewards of the breeds future just as much as the breeder.

     In the case of these particular shows, none of the judges had significant experience judging Boxers. For the Specialty show the replacement judge has only adjudicated Boxers for a few shows and had small entries at that. The show giving club should never have given such an inexperienced person the assignment. On the entire circuit, in almost every instance the judges put up dogs who either lacked good breed type or worse yet had poor canine anatomy and movement, even when more suitable choices were available. One does not have to be an expert on breed type to know that Boxers do not run downhill, stand high in the rear or have toplines with 3 distinct sections. Movement faults such as crossing over, hackney gait and paddling are obvious and not correct in Boxers, or most other breeds. That is dog basics 101. More to the point is the question to AKC , who is mentoring these judges on the breeds. How much is required of them and where is the AKC rep these days. Many years ago they would sit and observe newer judges and counsel them if they go astray.

     It must be an easy decision for a judge to just go with the big name handler, and ignoring the 2nd tier handlers or even the owner handlers. As an owner handler, I can tell you this happens a great deal. 35 or 40 years ago showing in Bred By was the proverbial Kiss Of Death. Now that professional handlers are also breeders that class has been taken over by the Pros. AKC throws a bone to the owner handler with the AOH class making it the new Kiss Of Death class. It is a nice class that affords an opportunity to get into Winners in order to train the new dog or work through problems with an obstreperous dog in training. Unfortunately, the same two things that happened years ago in Bred By are occurring in AOH. Judges (who may or may not have much handling experience of their own) feel compelled to give handling lessons to the exhibitor and worse yet, they walk right past you in Winners as if your dog must not be any good if you were stupid enough to enter this class. Its a real shame to watch this happen, as from my personal perspective and that of many long time breeders who were spectators at these shows - the better dogs were either owner handled or with the 2nd tier handlers. If the judging at these shows was not somehow biased then one has to question the fundamental knowledge of canine anatomy and function of this slate. The choices here are if you were not biased then you were ignorant and neither choice is a good one for the breed.

     Judges are entitled to their opinions but that decision should be based upon a solid foundation of canine anatomy and movement. If they are having difficulty with the nuance of breed type then there is nothing wrong with going out for a refresher coarse. There are plenty of knowledgeable successful breeders who would be more than willing to give of their time to mentor. One should never stop learning unless the raisoned'etre at dog shows is an ego trip and if that is the case we are all lost. The quality of dogs will continue to diminish as rapidly as the number of mediocre champions rises. More and more of those who breed quality dogs will cease to exhibit. Patricia Dollar Araby Boxers (Since 1969) Hopewell Run Farm

Horse Slaughter: "The purpose is to illuminate, not to burn. Help us turn on the lights!" Nel Liquorman needs to educate herself regarding the horse slaughter issue and the drug tainted meat!! Is that why there is no comment thread? Marge Mullen  Editor: There may be debate but we trust readers to understand the greater cruelty horses must endure in being trucked across borders to be inhumanely slaughtered.  Thanks for making a comment which does call attention to the fact that not everyone agrees.
Points Puzzle Comment: I actually did see this happen about seven years ago. The judge was an old-timer, quite knowledgeable of the breed he was judging. Oddly enough, the situation was virtually identical, except all the bitches were in the 9-12 puppy class. None were showing with their tail up in a breed that requires the tail to be carried “gaily”. All the tails were straight out behind them, not tucked under, and dropped completely when standing. Not unusual at all for puppy bitches, though. The judge gave a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbon, and then told them there would be no winners class. The dog entered did not receive a point. The following weekend the puppy that went 2nd or 3rd (I’m not sure which), was BOB over a Special, and was BOB from the classes at a Regional Specialty, both of the other bitches finished their Championships, so quality was not an issue. I recall it clearly because it was the first and only time I had ever seen that done, in more than 40 years showing. Lynne Nabors
Solution to Shelter Purebreds: I was so hopeful for that article by a former USDA Licensed Breeder.... right up until, instead of bashing the amorphous AR-created "puppy mills", the author switched to bashing the other favorite scapegoat -- the no less amorphous, no less a tool of the AR crowd, "back yard breeders." (FROWN) When the HECK are dog people going to wake up to the fact that the derogatory labels are HURTING US ALL???? There are two types of people breeding dogs: Those who do it well and responsibly overall, no matter what *we* might do differently if it were us, no matter what size the operation, no matter what degree of "profit; and those who are either negligent or cruel to the animals. PERIOD. GACK!!! Sometimes I feel like we are our own worst enemies. STOP FIGHTING INTERNALLY. Start fighting the real enemy, and ONLY the real enemy. In case we've forgotten who that is -- it's the animal rights movement!!! Candace Ware

Let 20,000 interested readers know what's on your mind and what we need to cover

HEADlines: This is absolutely super!  I will take time to read it all.  Thanks so much!  Nancy Dougherty, AKC Judge
Canine Shoulders: -- FANTASTIC~!  Chris Walkowicz, the Bearded Lady
Politics: You should be ashamed of yourself. Stop the politics. Jeff

And More: I don't need a dog magazine giving me political suggestions. As much as I love my dogs there are more pressing issues to decide a presidency on.  Danelle Brown

NOT FOR PERRY! HB1451 violations of our constitutional rights: Unreasonable search and seizure , ANY ONE is subject to inspections at any time and must comply or YOU WILL LOSE YOUR DOGS, this means your private property INCLUDING YOUR HOME: with out warrant.  Due process: you do not have to be proven guilty in court to have all your animals taken, they don't even have to let you know WHY--animal control makes the decision not a judge.  Law does not effect people that own less then 10 dogs : BUT if you breed more then 2 litters ( I breed and own Great Danes--we often have 1- puppy litters ) you are now subject to regulation. Kymber Tyner, TTS Great Danes
What's Grand about Grand Champions: I have to comment on the very good article by Judge Katie Gammill. She has made many very good points. However ... from another view point ... I have seen, in a number of breeds, some very nice older dogs not even be considered for BOB or Select because the dogs they are being judged against are young and in their prime. My understanding of the reason to encourage us to show our "older" dogs for their "grand championship" was for them to at least be considered. Not immediately discarded, mentally, because their teeth are worn, or they are "old" compared to the young dogs who just finished their championship.  Come on, judges. Look at the quality of the older dogs. Ask their ages. If you are looking at an 8 or 9 year old dog, who is still a darned nice looking dog, but his teeth are worn, or his ears aren't quite as alert as they were 5 or 6 years ago, look past that and see the quality that is still there. Marti Reed
DELTA: Thought maybe TheDogPress could get additional info on Delta doing this. It isn't a ban, just no snub nosed dogs/cats can be taken as excessive baggage only as cargo which makes no sense unless it is just a way for the airline to make more money.....I know now in the US amstaffs can only fly United and now Delta as cargo but overseas only one I know of is Delta as cargo. It will hurt shows like Eukanuba, Nationals, Regional Specialties any bigger shows that people like to fly over with their dogs to participate in. Airfare for passengers is bad enough but to have to, in addition, bring dogs as cargo makes the cost prohibitive. There was no warning, knew of some planning on flying to Westminster with amstaffs on Delta only to find out now they would have to ship as cargo - nothing was mentioned at time of ticket purchase......Hoping to get people to complain enough maybe some of these airlines will reconsider not even sure why an amstaff is considered a snub nosed dog.  Additional Restrictions for Pug or Snub-nosed Dogs and Cats Pug or snub-nosed dogs and cats are not hot-weather animals and therefore do not thrive in warm temperatures. As a precaution, Delta will not accept them as checked baggage or as cargo if the temperature on any part of their trip exceeds 75 degrees F.

Examples of Snub-Nosed Dogs • American Bulldog* • American Staffordshire Terrier • American Pit Bull Terrier • Boston Terrier • Boxer • Brussels Griffin • Bulldog* • Chinese Pug • Chow Chow • Dutch Pug • English Bulldog* • English Toy Spaniel • French Bulldog* • Lhasa Apso • Japanese Boxer • Japanese Pug • Japanese Spaniel (Chin) • Mastiff (all breeds) • Pekinese • Pit Bull • Pug • Shar Pei • Shih Tzu • Staffordshire Bull Terrier • Tibetan Spaniel
Examples of Cats • Burmese • Exotic • Himalayan • Persian
NOTE*Delta will no longer accept any pure breed, or mixed breed of any snub-nosed dog or cat for tickets issued on or after December 13, 2011. Cindy Stroupe

Open forum, any subject, just keep it short!  Send your:  Letter To Editor.

Mitt Romeny's Dog: I think it's more important to write about Rick Santorum's connection and backing of PETA. I googled it and found it right away. Spiritualccs@aol.com  Editor: We "been there, done that" so check it out in next edition, the support PAWS got from Board Member Steve Gladstone and AKC Chairman, Ron Menaker... Whew!  it stinks.
Shelters Support Puppy Mills: I would really like to know how you can condone and publish an article like the Shelters Support Puppy Mills??? There are no supportable facts for many of the statements made in the piece and now the ARs have more fuel to add to their fire as it was published by you.  I wrote Laura Turner an email and it is here, I think it says it all.  CathyM:

    I would really like to know where you have gotten your facts to support the following statements:  "When these commercially-bred pups do not sell right away, they become more expensive, time consuming, noisy, messy and inconvenient for the person to keep. No problem, they simply dump the unsold pups off at a shelter and begin again. Because they are not quality purebred dogs they are usually not tattooed or micro chipped so there is no way to trace the person who produced them. So the breeder of rescue or shelter dogs is unlikely to ever be held accountable. And even more distressing; when their breeding dogs stop producing, they also get dumped at a shelter."
     This is no better than the garbage spouted by the AR goofballs to support their platforms. You cannot fight rhetoric and unsupportable facts with the same. This is what you have done with this article and actually fed fuel to their fire as they will now be able to say - well a reputable breeder said this so it must be true and quote you as a source. They don't have to check your sources because you did not give any.
     You need to really think before you write and support everything with verifiable facts that can be checked by any reader. Otherwise you are no better than any AR out there trying to take away our rights.

Editor: I couldn't agree more on providing references and attribution BUT as editor, I agreed to publish it because frankly, it made sense to me and I did a little independent shelter-checking.  If we cower and tremble over every word, well then, Cathy, they have won.  Which is why they in fact have won.  Many breeders are so busy knocking the competition, they have no time for unity and that is the only way we can keep ahead of the Animal Rights agenda. 

Great Dane Tragedy: This is a tragic example of a back yard breeder making money on the unsuspecting public.  And in the end, it is always the dog that pays the price.  My puppies do go with a contract that states if at anytime you are unable to care for the dog, regardless of age or condition, he is to be returned.  I also state that I am available to the new owners for the life of the dog.  My puppies go with a pedigree, AKC paperwork, dog food, toys, a bottle of house water, a puppy kit from my vet that includes a heartworm pill and a dose of Front Line, medical records, photos of parents and grandparents and a 3 page "puppy manual".  Overkill?  Absolutely. Basically, once you have a puppy from me, we are "in-laws".  It is obvious this breeder knew she had a problem and pawned it off on a naive puppy buyer just to make a few bucks.  It is breeders like this that give all breeders a bad name. Susan Shephard Deja Vu Pekingese
And More Great Dane: My personal opinion is, that the puppy buyer should have NEVER taken this pup and the breeder should have never sold this pup in this condition. If the breeder claims to have experience, she was less then honest with the unsuspecting buyer. I believe the court was correct in its ruling, because the buyer assumed responsibility for the pup. I give a health guarantee with my pups and will work with a puppy buyer and I am available throughout the life of the dog. Some time ago a man wanted to exchange a pup because it developed a terrible limp. When the family came to make the exchange, the child mentioned that the pup had fallen out of the back of the pick up truck... and I should pay for the vet bills? You be the judge. Brigitte
Animal Rights/Human Rights: They have passed a law in Fitzgerald GA. That if I want to keep my pitbull/mix dog, I have to make my fence two feet higher, his pen has to have a roof and floor, and I must have $50.000 worth of liability insurance. And if I let him out of his pen he has to have a muzzle on. Is there any way to fight this?  Thanks Clayton  Editor: An attorney would be needed and odds are it will be costly and non-productive.  A great breed has been effectively - destroyed but partly because owners failed to restrain and control it. 

WKC Commercials:  The Westminster Kennel Club Show should promote the beautiful and healthy well-bred dogs in the show, produced by careful and dedicated breeders. Not one entry at WKC came from the shelter! Pedigree will NEVER have another penny from me. Virginia O'Connor


More on Commercials:  Should adoption-donation commercials dominate the Westminster show? No. Why? Mutts (oh sorry - American Bred) are accepted in Agility. Advertise these dogs in the Agility events. WKC is Conformation (Pure Bred) so advertise pure bred dogs. HSUS and PETA win again – what a crock. Kevin Blackwell

Helping or Hurting: Westminster is a show of pure bred dogs.  I think it is just another way for AKC to bring in mixed breed dogs for more money.  What they are doing isn't helping the sport of dog shows, it is hurting. Cheryl Marble


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