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Endangered breeds: the gauntlet is in my hand
by Peter Eva

Dave Cavill's gauntlet, as thrown across the room in 'Speakers’ Corner' column (July 16th), is the sort of challenge that few would wish to take up. Not for the reason that he has any merit in his argument, throw aways, and criticism; but answering the owner and contributor of any publication, however just the cause, is always going to be difficult to come out of it without holding one's sides with laughter.

For whatever is written the rights and wrongs of an issue, by skilful editing, editorial and comment from friends the argument can be tilted, doused with iced water or swayed. The ordinary reader has both hands tied behind his back, making a telling point difficult. David with his political experience will be fully aware that few would sensibly take him on, except me; which is probably why I was the only name mentioned. It is very nice to be a 'Name', also very good for circulation to have the odd controversy running, especially if you are holding the entire deck of marked cards.

David uses CITES as a handle, or dare I suggest a runcible spoon, to introduce and hang his point about endangered breeds. What CITES has to do with this situation is better left to his next piece. From my viewpoint, being involved with terriers, it has little to do with the case. In fact, I believe that reference to CITES is more about creating a platform or impression than his main point.

I was interested to read of the Talbot restaurant where David was dining and reference to the extinct Talbot Hound Dog. Perhaps as an old English breed it should have been saved and then one less imported, fluffy ball from a remote hillside in Croatia or wild scavenging desert dog could have been avoided. The only Talbot dog that I know of is in Heraldry; where Rakki is old Norse for a dog with a keen scent i.e. a Bloodhound. This eventually became a Talbot. It described a dog with a keen scenting ability. Talbots were depicted with drooping ears rather like the modern Foxhound. Far from dying out, they are still depicted on coats of arms and crests. It might have been worth saving, if it existed at all. That is if there were people like the owners, breeders and supporters of the current 28 breeds listed by the KC as endangered. Endangered is a word that I regard as meaning under threat, due to small numbers bred a year, less that 300 registrations. There is a strong presumption by rank and file dog folk that the odd ball foreign breeds are readily included into the British show scene to help adding more breeds to the haul of those well travelled individual stars whose success abroad and at Crufts appear to rely on a top score in Milk Bottle Top Collection or the Breeds I've Seen Stakes.

It is my recall that Dave Cavill was one of the original Working Party questioned the UK show scene. Since that report, successive add-on changes, new rules and rules about rules have made it all the more unworkable. The Management Down process means more flat days at fewer, more expensive shows.

Occasional Elastoplast measures have done nothing to stop the bleeding. The ambition by a few is clearly to have only Championship shows or Championship-styled Premier shows. This is as they have in Europe, where they get as many as 1000 entries with what they call Professional Judges. Professionalism means paid for. I wonder how some UK Championship shows would get the books to balance. The knock on effects will be far reaching. Well, we could always meet in a pub with our dogs. I wonder if any of the original members of the WP would come to the same conclusions now in the light of the actual events. David's point about reincarnation does strike a bell for some breeds. If there was, heaven forbid, no Finnish Spitz, for example, here in the UK would it be such a loss as 28 English and Irish breeds? But he would be safe in the knowledge that more could be delivered by DHL in a matter of days.

So how does this impinge in endangered breeds? Well, for starters here are a total of 28 English and Irish breeds and I am convinced that they would put up a fight if any one took his article seriously. The 28 breeds are doubtless working quietly away to ensure they survive and do not wish to be drawn into a debate on the rights, or justifications of their actions. The sweeping disregard for the owners of these 28 breeds is breath taking. The awful thought is perhaps this is another WP scheme to reduce the UK breeds in the Gundog Group and the total decimation of the Terrier Group. Perhaps it is all part of the general plot as it is no more unbelievable than some of the changes.

Some will be aware that I am very involved in Manchester Terriers which is one of the 28 breeds. On one issue I must give David best as I agree that I have spent too much money on dogs in general and Manchesters in particular. Quite a lot really in spite of the Jockey's rumours, I still have not gone broke or ever likely too. Ella and I like Manchester Terriers as I am sure that owners of Manchesters and of the other 27 listed breeds do. Whilst I believe our breed is undoubtedly the best, others probably feel the same about their breed. There is no logic in keeping a freezing cold climate fluffy dog in the UK. Who knows the environmentalists may get rat-killing chemicals banned and the Terriers will once more dominate. What would the Dobermann be like without the Manchester?

Sorry David, but I believe you have no sustainable case.