TAC2 Posted November 8, 2008 Report Share Posted November 8, 2008 As a newbie here I realize I'm going out on a limb here but I'd like to share my opinion on the AKC debate anyway. First a perspective on the AKC. The AKC was founded by a group of "sportsmen," probably affluent, at the turn of the 19th century to compare their best dogs for bragging rights. Another club, the UKC (United Kennel Club) was also founded around the same time for the same reasons. While the UKC is still in existence and supports many activities like the AKC, the AKC became the pre-eminent "brand" for the purebred dog...because it is FIRST and foremost a BUSINESS and its product is its registry. The shows, trials, titles, magazines, philanthropic and lobbying activities are all "value added products." The AKC was incorporated in the State of New York on May 19, 1908. Its mission statement (as shown on the current website): "The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership." Its stated objective: Advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs. They are the first to say that the actual breeding, buying and selling are the provinces of the individuals, and they are strictly hands off (for liability issues I'm sure.) Now, taken in the context of history, the AKC and UKC were founded at a time in America when the Industrial Revolution was changing the structure of society and allowing the growth of the middle class. Innovation and mechanization gave these people more affluence and free time. We continue this trend today with new technologies, though I would argue that we don't have more free time because of it. Mechanization began the decline of animal labor on the farm (John Deere crated the first steel plow in 1837.) "The Iron Horse" (railways) and industrial jobs were moving the population from rural farms to urban centers and the advent of refrigeration meant produce could travel further distances and support more people in the cities (first refrigerated rail car was built in 1867 by Parker Earle) The Gold Rush hit in 1848/9 and the transcontinental railway was completed in 1869. During this same period, the upper classes, artists and naturalists (like John Muir) were exploring and manipulating nature and developing retreats in places like the Adirondacks and Jersey Shore. The style to become known as Art Nouveau "modernized" and conceptualized natural form in art and decoration. Many recreational activities like baseball (1871) and the Miss America pageant (1921) became national pastimes. Is it really so strange then that people with time and money on their hands began to manipulate the dog to create fashionable breeds and then show them off in "dog shows" a.k.a canine beauty pageants? To be fair, some of the early affluent fanciers managed to "save" breeds that would otherwise have been lost due to lessening need. Unfortunately this desire for form over function has become the absurdity it is today in far too many breeds. The show structure is probably the root of the problem; a standard is only as good as its interpretation. Each judge is a breeder first. This is as true of sheep, goats, horses, cattle, etc. as it is of dogs. Each breeder, owner or judge holds his or her own mental image of the ideal animal. It's human nature. Even working border collies appear to have different but categorically identifiable outlines or styles to their work. Some are fast, others slow and steady, those work low to the ground while another is upright, one is better for cattle, etc. I'm sure there are several people on this board that can identify bloodlines merely by watching a dog work. I don't believe it is right to manipulate a breed, dog or otherwise, to the detriment of its health or sanity to attain someone's ideal of beauty, any more than it is right to judge someone (and award scholarships, contracts, etc.) based upon looks as in the Miss America type pageants; but there are many who are passionate about it. Since this is America, they are free to do so as long as no civil or criminal laws (animal cruelty) are violated. If a business (AKC) sees or creates a market for its product, is it wrong to sell it? No. Do you have to buy it? No. Some dogs have never been meant to be more than a pocket pet and there is nothing wrong with that unless it creates a detrimental anomaly of structure or temperament. I also don't have any problems with showing per se. Though it doesn't appear to be, it is actually hard work, can be lots of fun and there used to be many nice folks who participate. It is rare that the handlers in Group or BIS at Westminster are owners, those are the professionals handling dogs sometimes owned by celebrities (Bill Cosby, Martha Stewart, etc.) And the sport seems to be heading to the pros only. Having a dog (or sheep, goat, horse, pig, etc.) as a pet is not wrong either, as long as the animal's well being, both mental and physical, are served. That said, I personally don't like working dog breeds that have been turned into brainless "deformed" objects, but I've learned from GSDs, that I can't change the opinions of so many. Even though working dogs are, in my opinion, much better than their beauty queen cousins, the "show folks" are as passionate about their way of doing things as the working breeders are about theirs. Realistically, working breeders have as much chance of convincing show or sport breeders to "see the light" as show or sport breeders have of convincing working breeders to see things their way. Ain't likely to happen except in a very few instances. So I take my purchasing power elsewhere and share my reasoning when asked. Thankfully, there seem to be many folks dedicated to preserving the working qualities and original "type" for these breeds. If the Border Collie breed must split into working and show lines (with sport somewhere in between?), and as long sufficient genetic diversity is carefully maintained within the working lines there should be no harm. And yes, this imposes a significant duty on working breeders. Do working breeders really want their working bred dogs to end in homes where they are confined alone all day, never to see livestock or use their gifts productively? Wouldn't the show bred pet with no drive other than to seek the most comfy lap be happier there? I don't believe anyone truly in need of a working dog, is going to be duped into purchasing a show or sport dog. On the other hand someone who thinks they want a working dog and who really should have a couch potato is probably better off with a show bred dog. The dog would be happier and fewer would end in rescue. The sad fact is there are more pet/sport/show homes available these days than farms or hobby farms for the herding dogs. BTW, I am NOT advocating breeding BCs for show or pet homes, but if they are out there already, I see no harm in placing them properly. Educate folks who ask certainly, but I'm not the kind of person to see a point in beating ones head against a brick wall trying to convince the unconvince-able. Okay, dissertation and soap-box completed, deep breath...bracing myself for responses... Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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