From the Editor
Rare-breed judging and health
Welcome to our Annual Rare-Breeds Issue. It gives us a chance each year to take the pulse of the rare-breeds movement, acknowledge victories that have been scored in this arena, and identify upcoming trends.
As breeds leave the security and informality of the rare-breed show ring to play for bigger stakes in the AKC world, it’s important for judges, field reps and established exhibitors to give some thought to the new exhibitors who may feel overwhelmed upon entering their first shows. Of course, we hope they will have taken some handling classes to get their feet wet in AKC protocol, but often that prep work goes out the window in the anxiety of that 21/2-minute debut when an owner-handler suddenly finds he’s all thumbs, trying to keep a big, unschooled animal on all four feet.
At times like this, a kindly word from a smiling judge can make all the difference between an upbeat experience and a humiliating one. We were all novices once. It is a matter of mutual respect. New exhibitors don’t expect charity and can deal with constructive criticism. But at a time when show entries are dropping, the dog game needs that shot in the arm that new, enthusiastic exhibitors can inject. As Dawne Deeley advises in “Judging the ‘Other’ Breeds” (page 30), let’s welcome novices to our sport and endeavor to be knowledgeable about the breeds that have joined the AKC fold.
Part of the fun of immersing ourselves in the rare-breed world is the sense of adventure with which we explore dogs that may be new to our shores but have a rich history elsewhere. This year, our rare-breed detective Alice Bixler delves into “Continental Pointers” (page 34). You will have encountered some at rare-breed shows but others remain exotic mysteries. After this issue, they should be less foreign to you.
Another challenge in rare-breed ownership is finding a veterinarian interested and confident enough to welcome a single representative of its breed into his practice. Some veterinarians feel threatened by the unknown; others are excited by the possibilities and will welcome an owner’s e-mails and literature. A comfortable working relationship is essential. Read more good advice in Dawne Deeley’s “Rare-Breed Health” (page 26).
In Caroline Coile’s Breeder’s Notebook column this month, “Raring for recognition” (page 8), she sheds light on the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS), and explains the path toward entry in the Miscellaneous Class and eventual full-breed recognition.
Those exhibitors who get involved in mainstream breeds from the start marvel at the dedication it takes to shepherd a rarity along this path. For rare-breed enthusiasts, it is simply a labor of love and they invest the time willingly. It is their fortitude we acknowledge in this issue.
As this issue goes to press, California breeder-exhibitors are enraged that AB 1634, the bill that would require any dog or cat over the age of 4 months to be spayed or neutered unless the owner qualifies for and obtains an intact-animal permit, has passed the State Assembly on a vote of 41-38, the bare minimum needed for passage. AB 1634 will now proceed to the State Senate. Concerned owners, breeders and fanciers are encouraged to contact their state senator and ask him or her to oppose AB 1634. Because what happens in California is so often repeated elsewhere, there’s no time for complacency here. For further information, contact AKC’s Canine Legislation Department at (919) 816-3720 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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