Editor's Page: Reflections and Resolutions
To take the pulse of the sport, Dogs in Review invited many dozens of judges, breeders and exhibitors to share their highlights of 2014 and their hopes for the new year.
Allan Reznik |
Posted: December 17, 2014 11 a.m. PST
Photo courtesy Julie Lynn Mueller.
Whew! What a roller-coaster ride 2014 has been. Everyone was still complaining about too many shows, but no club pulled its event in protest. Fewer dogs needed for majors meant it was possible to enter half the kennel in some midweek shows to finish less-than-stellar specimens. The AKC Judges Approval process was an endless source of frustration for all, yet, as this editorial is being written, the AKC has reached out to the fancy for its ideas and feedback, so this is an encouraging sign. And an American-bred Affenpinscher triumphed at the colossal World Show in Helsinki, Finland, making us all proud.
To take the pulse of the sport, Dogs in Review invited many dozens of judges, breeders and exhibitors to share their highlights of 2014 and their hopes for the new year. In reading over the many submissions we received, I was struck by how often the same sentiments were expressed.
Keke Kahn summed it up well when she hoped for "more serious dog breeders to turn out much better dogs for me to judge.” Small entries and low majors at countless shows can sadden good breeders who don’t want the bar lowered while at the same time enabling poor breeders to make some sort of name for themselves by finishing dogs, then singing their praises on social media. There are plenty of gullible people out there who will believe those tall tales, people who could better spend their time learning their breed standard and attending educational seminars.
Gretchen Bernardi wishes for "better dogs and better judging to find them” in 2015. Jamie Hubbard urges the fancy to "get back to basics and evaluate breeding stock both in and out of the ring.” This is the classic Catch-22 situation. Breeder-exhibitors exhort judges to uphold the standard and put up correct dogs. Judges respond that they can only put up the dogs they find in their ring. If exhibitors enter mediocre dogs, what do the judges have to choose from? Judges can withhold awards, but most are reluctant to do so, knowing it will make waves and probably lose them entries down the line because so few judges are prepared to withhold. Indeed, judges are interrogated by exhibitors and AKC Field Reps for not wanting to gratuitously hand out Selects and Awards of Merit.
Many longtime participants in the sport, first as breeders and then as judges, hope for a return to better sportsmanship and friendlier shows. Charlotte McGowan wishes "dog fanciers would spend more time trying to breed better dogs. I wish they would continue learning, share what they know and be kinder to each other. We could all laugh more. It needs to be fun.”
Glen Lajeski would like to see a "return to the camaraderie we once had at dog shows and to discuss dogs with each other in a positive light! To win is great fun; to lose is not the end of the world.”
Dr. John Reeve-Newson hopes for "more effort on the part of all of us to encourage and aid more people involved in our sport. In light of falling entries everywhere, this is an absolute necessity.”
You’ll find many more reflections and resolutions starting on page 72.
Season’s greetings from the Dogs in Review team, and our best wishes for a healthy and successful new year.
From the December 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine.
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