From the Editor

Dog fanciers without boundaries

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For decades, political red tape and monumental expense stymied North American dog fanciers who wanted to expand their participation in the sport beyond their home borders. Stiff quarantine restrictions made exhibiting a dog overseas a near impossibility. Hefty airfares made such trips prohibitive to the average fancier on a budget. Cultivating friendships with others in your breed was a slow process dependent on snail mail and costly long-distance phone calls.

Then along came the Internet, which made the world a much smaller place with information available at our fingertips. Of course, there are still breeders who go to the stud dog down the street, express little curiosity in their breed beyond their own backyard and participate in the sport on a pretty provincial level. But thankfully, more and more fanciers have opened their eyes to the fact that great dogs exist beyond our borders, along with quality bloodlines that can do so much to improve the state of many of our breeds.

Superb imports such as ‘Mick’ the Kerry Blue, ‘Chance’ the Australian Shepherd and ‘Harry’ the Dandie Dinmont have done their part on behalf of international canine relations. Indeed, they’ve raised the awareness of dog lovers who simply turn on their TV sets. This year again, a Tibetan Terrier bred in England and currently being campaigned on this side of the pond returned to the United Kingdom with his American handler to triumph at Crufts (see “The Big One,” page 8).

The value of international travel isn’t restricted to the conformation community. It is an eye-opener to witness obedience, agility and musical freestyle carried out in other nations, often with far more pageantry than we’re accustomed to.  For those who are honored to represent their country in team competition, it is a thrill that will last a lifetime.

To experience how fanciers in other countries maintain their breeding stock, ensuring that their valuable dogs also enjoy a high quality of life, is another revelation. North American dog people who traveled to Helsinki for the World Show some years ago were fascinated to see show dogs and their owner-handlers travel on public streetcars to get to the event. A handful of dogs are typically raised in a home environment; kennels as they exist here are unknown in Scandinavia; and fanciers co-own their breeding stock, sharing the wealth by placing promising puppies in the best possible homes. Quality is always the goal, never quantity. For North Americans, particularly those new to the sport who tend to overload themselves with dogs in a frantic attempt to become successful in a hurry, exposure to alternative ways of raising dogs is an education worth its weight in gold. By thinking creatively and pooling your resources with like-minded friends, you can achieve your goals while still keeping your canine numbers down. What a concept!

Judges learn quickly that they must train their eye to accept a variety of “looks” within a breed. Exhibitors who travel get to learn the same lesson. With any luck, they develop tolerance and flexibility as they observe dogs that may not look exactly like those back home, but have important qualities to offer nonetheless.

Safe travels, and enjoy our Globetrotting issue.

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