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Education In The Dog Sport!

What is the education-compulsion among dog fanciers that drives them to teach others while struggling to remember how much they used to enjoy dogs?


January 2017

Delilah Penn, Staff Reporter


Continuing education is a must-have if you are a doctor or want to be a physicist like Albert Einstein. If you're a politician you better be well versed on how to change legislation which is why lawyers need constant education… But wait-a-minute, you’re a dog owner and dogs don’t change. Or at least they’re not supposed to. (I see clubs changing their breed standard all the time, so who's the expert and who's got the genetically perfect dog? That's another subject entirely, so I'll stick to education for now...)


You watched Conformation, decided it would be a breeze, and found someone at ringside who told you how to get entering information. You didn’t win much but the nice people who did always encouraged you to keep showing your dog. You finally won 2 points and met some people who said you should join the local “Kennel Club.” And so you did. It was fun socializing but just about the time you were getting bored with it all, someone said “would you like to serve on the breeder education committee?”


What's that? They explained it educates new people on how to breed better dogs so that they conform to something called a breed standard. “Huh?” They explained and so you decided to look it up, but sure, in the meantime you would be happy to educate other people, you've been in the breed a minute.


And so for many people in the dog sport, that's the way it starts. Wow! The dog sport seems to be more about education than about the dogs. There’s breeder education, canine health education, and you learn that learning about genetics is harder than getting a college education.


Everyone seems to be an expert on how you the dog owner, can become an educated breeder of healthy dogs free of genetic faults. AKC has skin in the game too. The guy in charge of AKC Customer Development says “Responsible breeders are always learning, but it can be difficult to find convenient educational opportunities on the latest breeding best practices.


Well I’m not a breeder but lots of “educational opportunities” for regular dog owners like me sounds great. I got to thinking and the editor encouraged me so I’m asking “What about you?”


Are you hooked and want to learn more? Well good, cause there are educators who will explain all about the Canine Health Foundation, the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals, and whatever breed certifications and health certifications are required for your breed.


Is your dog is healthy? How do you know? Maybe you better get some Breed Education just in case you want to breed a healthy litter.  Don’t want to breed dogs? OK, but there's also the power thing, so you learn how to judge. It’s okay, you can just co-own a few bitches so you don’t have to do the whole time-consuming, messy part of breeding litters.


Just think. As a judge, you can get paid to go to dog shows! Best of all, you can enjoy the show from center ring and you will have more friends than you could have ever imagined. You get wined and dined and someone else picks up the tab. Suddenly you have the power you were looking for and you can teach other people all about their breed. Cool right?


Learning how to be a judge is not a big deal. Just check out the AKC education programs, a “growing catalog of online courses, future higher-level certification opportunities, and additional resources.


When the editor first suggested I write about all this Education stuff, I thought about how the Senior Conformation Judges Assoc. was on to something with their Judges Education programs. I know because I helped design and it covered the 2008 American Canine Education Foundation Judges Institute in Vegas{1}. Talk about education! My boss went and she said it represented “20 years of success in hands-on education.”  Did I also mention it was in Vegas???


So anyway, now the American Kennel Club has decided to educate breeders too and they have launched a Breeder Education department to teach dog breeders how to breed dogs. Yes, I’m serious. I don’t know when AKC launched its breeder education venue, there’s no date, but it’s safe to say it was decades after regular dog clubs began educating breeders in the dog sport. I poked around their website and it looks like the AKC is doing a lot more than just registering dogs and educating owners, they’re in the retail business. Hey, if it sells, you can buy it at AKC online.


So, I got it!  Everyone wants to be an educator. You've got a purebred dog so you join the National Club. If you’re willing to work, there are all sorts of educational opportunities. If you work hard at it, pretty soon they’ll let you educate judges too.


And so on and so on. My Grandpa had a saying about the blind leading the blind. I thought about that but then decided the whole education thing is okay, a wonderful social outlet that appeals to the pack instinct in people. If you’re good at it you become a leader. Instead of just showing your dog, you get to meet new people and educate others who are newer than you. How cool is that!


Reference Link: {1} 2008 American Canine Education Foundation Judges Institute EST 2002 © 1701



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