From the Editor
Poised to perform
Welcome to our Performance Issue. It’s hard to think of a time when we’ve had so many venues available to showcase our dogs’ abilities to do the jobs for which they were historically bred. Honoring breed integrity must be our goal or we do our dogs an irreparable disservice.
As Dawne Deeley points out in “The Renaissance Dog” (page 48), restrictive anti-hunting bills worldwide have made certain traditions a challenge to maintain. Packs of working hounds have been disbanded and, in some cases, destroyed. For purists, softening a breed and “going generic” will never be an option. As Americans watch dog shows on television, they become exposed to many unusual Sporting and Working breeds. When simply admiring them isn’t enough and an inappropriate owner feels the need to purchase one, responsible breeders must be the voice of reason. Explain tactfully that there is no one-size-fits-all breed. Energetic, independent breeds require responsible ownership or that mismatched canine and owner will generate a lot of anti-dog sentiment in their community. The breeders quoted in the article, and Deeley herself, are adamant that dogs with a job to do must be bred with that purpose in mind. There are plenty of softer, more tractable breeds around that will put fewer demands on a breeder or owner. The ability to pay is never an acceptable reason to subject a breed to inappropriate ownership.
Urban and suburban breeder-owners must rely on their resourcefulness to find suitable places for their dogs to practice. Liz Palika, an Australian Shepherd owner who has put multiple performance titles on her dogs, offers much practical advice in “The Urban Challenge” (page 36). Her feature will have you looking at schoolyards, shopping center parking lots and neighbors’ swimming pools in a whole new way. Joining a club of like-minded individuals is always a good idea for the knowledge you will gain and contribute. It is especially beneficial when it enables owners to make use of facilities and equipment that would not otherwise be feasible.
James Spencer breaks down the Sporting Group for us in “Bird Dogs” (page 42). Breed names notwithstanding, an Irish Water Spaniel doesn’t do the same work that an English Springer Spaniel does. Logically, then, it doesn’t participate in the same competitive events. Spencer explains how the pointing, retrieving and spaniel breeds work, and what tests have been established to judge their talents in the field.
When breed standards are adhered to, it is with the desire to preserve breed integrity, reward dogs that possess the important nuances of type and guard against the generic specimen. In this issue’s “Judge’s Perspective” (page 20), Betty-Anne Stenmark addresses the importance of understanding breed standards, both those that leave nothing to the imagination and those that are more succinct and less concrete in their verbiage. At their very core, standards describe the working fundamentals of our breeds.
They are our blueprint and our road map as we attempt to breed representative dogs. We ignore them at our own peril.
Give us your opinion on From the Editor
Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below
Get New Captcha