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(Updated 3/7/01)

Good Companions: Kennel Club Laumches Companion Dog Club

A FEW years ago, it would have been unthinkable; the Kennel Club, that last bastion of gentility which ruled the world of British pedigree dogs with a rule book of iron and which still referred to its staff as ‘servants’ actually bothering with - shock horror - PET dogs? And crossbreeds come to that? And running the ‘alternative Crufts’ the Scruffts dog show? Perish the thought!

But times change and so too has the KC. Perhaps it all started with the PetLog scheme, whereby ordinary mutts could be microchipped and registered alongside the cream of the crop - at a price, naturally. And now comes the ultimate change in the KC’s attitude towards ordinary pet dogs - the Companion Dog Club.

All joking about the exclusivity of the KC aside, the Companion Dog Club is a very positive move and fully in keeping with the KC’s ‘inclusive’ policy (to coin a phrase).

The Companion Dog Club was launched at Crufts last month, but with very little fanfare. Described as “an exciting new Club which encompasses all dogs, whether pedigree or crossbreed”, the CDC aim is “to support the Kennel Club’s objective to promote, in every way, the general improvement of dogs.”

For a single, one-off £10 joining fee, Companion Dog Club members will receive a certificate, animal healthcare insurance offer, a dog tag, car sticker, an ‘In Case Of Accident’ emergency card and a regular full colour newsletter.

The newsletter will be issued three times a year and will contain information regarding ‘Scruffts’ dog show heats around the country, general KC news, information on dog ownership, fun pages and vouchers entitling club members to discounts on many canine products and services.

Caroline Kisko, KC Secretary said at the launch: “We are very pleased to be launching this exciting new Club. All dog owners will now be able to benefit from official documentation for their dogs and get further involved in Kennel Club activities which can be enjoyed by both owner and dog alike.”

Impressive

Since its launch the CDC has had a “very positive” take-up rate by new members according to the KC’s press office, which augers well for the Club’s future.

Looking through the pack which would be sent to all members upon joining, the amount of material for the life membership fee is actually quite impressive. All of the enclosures mentioned are included, along with a rather smart certificate of membership which indicates “Your pet is now a member of the Companion Dog Club for life.” A copy of the KC’s own leaflet The Canine Code is also included and is full of useful information on obtaining a dog, what to look for in puppies and adult dogs, caring for a dog and canine health schemes. The leaflet is also peppered with honourable quotes about the benefits of dog ownership and in praise of dogs by the great the good throughout history.

The first newsletter is also quite impressive, printed in full colour and running to eight pages, full of photographs and easy-to-read articles and information. Scruffts is covered in some depth, with details of regional heats, a gallery of pet dogs’ photographs and an invitation to members to send in their own pets’ photographs, plus lots of KC-orientated offers. There is also a major feature about pet identification, centring, of course, on the PetLog scheme, but well-written and informative, pointing out the law requiring that all dogs be identified in some way. Curiously however, the article has omitted to mention tattoos as an accepted means of identification, which sadly indicates a bias towards tagging and microchips.

However, KC press officer Sara Ward told OUR DOGS: “We didn’t omit tattoos purposely and we will feature the tattoo identification alternative in the next newsletter.”

The entire package is very worthwhile and the whole concept of a club for pet dogs - companion dogs - administered by the Kennel Club is a worthy one and long overdue. Other kennel clubs around the world have embraced ALL dogs for many years and the influence of the kennel club in question and the voice of ALL the country’s dog owners in political circles is the better for it. The Kennel Club can now truly be said to speak for the nation’s dogs and that can only be a good thing.