Editor's Column | Yes, We Can... but be Prepared

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For several months we at DR have told you in a variety of ways that the sky is falling, and that if certain steps aren’t taken right away our sport is doomed. Though we’re a little less morbid this month, we don’t want that message to be forgotten. We continue to maintain that the AKC must be prepared for an attack on purebred dogs the likes of which has occurred in the U.K. since August — and by prepared I don’t mean just a Chairman’s report that spells out how AKC already focuses on the health of purebred dogs. We need a stronger plan than that.

Along with that, we — you and I — must do our part to fight the impression that watching a dog show is akin to watching “a parade of mutants... a freakish, garish beauty pageant,” as it was described in the BBC “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” program. (See the interview with KC Chairman Irving in this issue.) We can fight that ridiculous notion if each one of us would take one simple action that, if done even a handful of times, can accomplish more than spending a million bucks toward earning the goodwill and trust of the public. If each of us would take our own dog out in public, for a walk in our neighborhood, at a local park, shopping center or soccer field, and allow our AKC-registered buddies to make friends with the people we meet, and let those people know that these are AKC show dogs... just think what great PR that would be! When I take my girls out for walks they never fail to draw attention, and people never fail to be delighted by them. All I have to do is tell the people we meet that these friendly, well-behaved pooches are indeed retired AKC show dogs — the dogs themselves have already made a positive impression.

I also continue to insist on the urgency with which all fanciers must understand that the animal rights extremist factions in this nation are steadily at work doing everything they can — and spending millions of dollars at it — to eliminate the breeding and showing of purebred dogs. These powerful and unrelenting PR machines convince John Q. Public of the rightness of their mission by playing on emotions. Organizations like PETA and HSUS have made vast inroads into convincing many Americans that what we do as hobby breeders leads to dog overpopulation, cruelty, and daily mass euthanizations all over the country. It isn’t just show dogs or breeders they target — they’re against all meat and egg producers, zoos, rodeos and all other manner of people involved with animals. If you aren’t aware of the work they’re doing, you should make yourself aware, but you can’t just skim the surface of their message or you may be fooled into thinking you agree with them.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE...
Having reminded our readers of these important issues, it’s the time of year when things slow down a bit, and we realize once again how grateful we are for all that we have as we look forward to a new year. We face many challenges in the coming year, not just for our sport but for our nation as a whole. But one thing that I was continually reminded of as we put this issue together — as I read the interview with KC Chairman Ronnie Irving, learned more about the legendary Percy Roberts, reveled in the beautiful work of the canine artists featured in this issue, and read the many letters and emails we received this month — is that we have much to be thankful for. We are not only not doing anything wrong — we’re doing something wonderfully right through our devotion to our dogs, our fellow fanciers and our sport. It may seem like hyperbole to quote President-elect Obama in this context, but what he said about the United States as a whole applies quite well to dog people, too: “Out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: yes, we can.”

I hope you and yours have had a happy and peaceful holiday season, and we wish you a Happy New Year. We look forward to sharing 2009 with you.                                                                                                                        

Christi McDonald


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