Donald McCaig Posted April 21, 2015 Report Share Posted April 21, 2015 Dear Doggers,Patrick Burns is - perhaps prematurely - dancing on the AKC’s grave. http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/. Like we sheepdoggers, Patrick comes from a dog culture (working terriers) outside the Dog Fancy. We were and are lucky. Before the Dog Wars, the AKC was (as one New York judge noted) “the dog experts” : the authority on all things dog. Since they controlled not only dog shows but retriever and obedience trials if you were active in dogs, you were probably a “Dog Fancier” and while you might whine about unfair judging and discriminatory rule changes, you’d best not go public with your complaints. Mark Derr’s unfavorable Atlantic article was the single dissenting note and he and the magazine were threatened by the AKC whose directors were very powerful, very rich men. When the Border Collie community was stalked by the AKC ( recounted in The Dog Wars) no Border Collie owner with gravitas - not one - wanted AKC “recognition”. It made no sense if you cared about the wellbeing of the breed. Our objections carried no weight AKC officials immersed in the Dog Fancy. They didn’t even know which Border Collies registries were current. They asked us. So we fought back. I remember telling AKC directors: “Your business IS your reputation. Unless “AKC reg” and “From AKC Ch” is thought to indicate high quality, your registrations are scraps of paper. You don’t want this fight.” They said, “uhhuh.” For the AKC recognizing the Border Collie was a Pyrrhic victory. They gained a couple thousand annual registrations and their reputation took a hit from which it never recovered. The New York Times and Time magazine’s cover told the world: “The Emperor has no clothes.”“ The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is their final bastion. Once the public sees Westminster as the freak show it is, the AKC will fade into distant memory. I’m of two minds: mostly I’ll be glad to see it go. It’s policies have hurt dogs and dog owners for a very long time. That said: I do worry about the Dog Fanciers who aren’t all or even mostly awful people and some of them know an awful lot about dogs. Where do you go when your church dies? How will you keep dogs without those beliefs (however false and harmful) that buttressed those beliefs? A couple weeks ago I visited a brilliant Maryland obedience trainer. She’s won OTCH’s with CHOWS and her students are winning with more trainable breeds. Though never a dog shower she bemoaned the decline of the AKC which had established a competition from coast to coast which - in fact - was and is a pretty good test of what an ‘obedient’ dog should be able to do. My scare quotes are because obedient and mannerly are not quite the same thing but withal that if, as some have suggested, a (non-AKC) CDX could get my dogs into hotels, trains, buses, trains and restaurants, I’d get one. While agility and other dog activities thrive, AKC obedience is dying with the parent org and a spate of frantic last minute rule changes isn’t helpful. I told my friend that when the AKC dies, she could have all the obedience matches she wanted and organize away matches with other enthusiasts. She said: “If a dog comes to me from California with a CDX I know what it can do.” Point taken. I can understand why she’d value all-breed national obedience standards. All pet dogs are not created equal but what we mean by “an obedient dog” shouldn’t depend on its breed or place of origin. “Still”. I argued, “Sheepdoggers have no rules for our trials and no titles but the best dogs are known and valued - even though they’re trialed under vastly different conditions, and trial hosts are free to organize their trial. If I wished, Margot, I could appoint you - who’ve never run a sheepdog - to judge my trial. Cultural pressures would prevent my doing so; not a rule book, list of certified judges or AKC rep.” Although this brilliant dog trainer has seen dog trials. indeed, has kept score at mine the concept of dog people arranging their own events and making rules depending on circumstances was, to her, anarchy. There are a lot of people like her, so while I’m glad to see the American Kennel Club die, I won't dance on their grave.Donald McCaig Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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