The British Kennel Club has come in for a real mauling recently, and consequently more and more organisations have bailed out of Crufts 2009. I think the real question here is not can we live with the Kennel Club, but more can we live without it?
What I mean is this; if we discredit and destroy (if that’s even possible) the Kennel Club we create a vacancy. Who knows what kind of unscrupulous people will jump in to fill that place? Without the Kennel Club who will be the definitive source of help for those looking to get a dog? What would the starting point be for those investigating different breeds?
Without the Kennel Club, the network of breeders, the smaller shows, and larger events such as Discover Dogs and Crufts itself, the landscape of the canine world starts to look very bleak and scary.
I do think that the health testing needs to be mandatory where appropriate, but I am not prepared to believe that the majority of dog breeders breed out of a blind love for profit and showing glory. I don’t think there are that many morally corrupt people in the world.
As for Crufts – and I know breeders and exhibitors will disagree here – it is much more than just a pedigree dog show. It may have originated as purely a dog show, but I’m sorry the “circus” has come to town to stay, and Crufts has developed into a celebration of all things doggy. From the show dog, to the obedience competitor, to the assistance dog, right through to your dog and mine – you know the one who often turns a deaf ear to being called back – they are all represented at Crufts.
That is what draws people to the show. If you don’t believe me, go to the show and take a walk around the show rings, which you will be easily able to manage. Then wander down to the Discover Dogs section, or go to a shopping aisle. Notice how the crowd thickens up, and you have to start elbowing your way through. The public may be intrigued by show dogs, but they want to meet and find out about dogs in a more hands on way, and they want to take home a treat for Rover.
I’m not denigrating showing, but really when I’ve seen one example of a breed trot round a show ring, I’ve more or less seen them all. I can’t tell “good” lines from “bad”, but I can tell what a dog’s temperament is like when I meet him, and that’s what I enjoy.
Of course the odd celebrity popping up here and there is also interesting, and the focus of the world’s media lends a theatrical air to proceedings.
We can’t afford to throw out the Kennel Club, we must reform and support the one we’ve got.
There are many excellent dog breeders doing their best to improve their breed, and it’s no wonder some of them are so cheesed off at the moment. However, you can’t get away from the fact that if you’re going to buy a dog you need to do some research. Find out what the breed is typically like and what health problems it might have. If the breeder can’t satisfactorily answer your questions on the subject, don’t buy from them – whoever they’re registered with!
If the breeder does show you pedigree paperwork, do make sure it’s from the Kennel Club. Otherwise it literally isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.