We asked the KC and four of our columnists to comment
So, ‘How has the year been for the Kennel Club’? I will try and summarise some of The Kennel Club’s main achievements within the allocated 300 words!
It is fair to say that 2004 has predictably been a busy, pro-active year for us and the pace of our performance across all of our activities has certainly not diminished. Registrations and transfers have continued to rise, as have registrations on the Petlog database. Initiatives implemented by the various Kennel Club Sub-Committees throughout the year have done much to improve our sport and hobby and our External Affairs activity continues to broaden in its remit and scope, which has helped produce some good results this year, such as our input into the proposed Animal Welfare Bill and the lead that we took on the formation of a working group to consider the plight of hunting dogs in the event of a ban.
The Accredited Breeder Scheme was launched to the general public at Discover Dogs 2004 – which incidentally enjoyed a record gate – and we truly feel that the scheme has raised the profile of health screening and has also encouraged take up of the DNA profiling service, while giving special recognition to responsible breeders. To keep abreast of the technological age, additional services have been added to our Internet facility - which receives in excess of 13 million hits per month and the Young Kennel Club has continued to grow and now stands at over 2500 members.
The Good Citizen Dog Scheme has once again seen a considerable growth and totals now stand at over 14,000 Puppy Foundation, 75,000 Bronze, 15,500 Silver and over 6000 Gold passes and organisations taking part in the scheme now total 1400.
The successful Kennel Club ‘Safe and Sound’ Scheme – which promotes the safety of interaction between children and dogs - has now completed its first year in operation and to date there have been nearly 300,000 hits on the SAS site and a lot of interest from schools, parents and children.
The Kennel Club looks forward to 2005, when we shall continue to pursue our objective - "To raise the relevance of the Kennel Club in the eyes of the public at large, dog owners and those who take part in canine activities so as to be better able "to promote in every way the general improvement of dogs".
Secretary, The Kennel Club
It's been an exciting year. Southern Counties settled at Newbury with another successful show, Our Dogs and Dogs Monthly continued to make progress in terms of sales and advertising, I began a new career (strictly a leisure pursuit, I assure you) as a jazz singer and drank better (and probably more) wine than ever before.
The year 2005 should be equally interesting. The Animal Care College will celebrate twenty-five years since its foundation and we will hear whether RTC Associates (which administers Showsurance) has been accepted by the Financial Services Authority as a formal provider of insurance services. There are also major changes on the way for Dogs Monthly and the new Canine Psychology, Behaviour Modification and Training Supplement is to be launched in the February issue. Plans are in hand to further improve Southern Counties by moving the showground slightly to improve the grass surface and make access easier for exhibitors. For the world of dogs as a whole I hope that the Kennel Club can be persuaded to bring in a more equitable regulation regarding the way in which judges are reviewed as they get older and the Accreditation of Canine Trainers and Behaviourists system of assessment can be extended to Judges (and to show organisers and administrators too).
Chairman of Southern Counties, Animal Care College partner, Dogs Monthly and Showsurance
the Kennel Club's continued improved performance was both welcome and predictable and notwithstanding the demise of a couple of old pals the fun that dogs have given me and mine was much the same as it has been for over half a century.
Parliament claimed that hunting is cruel and barbaric and must be banned but decided to allow the alleged cruelty to continue in order that their ill-informed and prejudiced decision would not impact on their waning popularity. This unprincipled cynicism was compounded by their declared intention to provide better welfare for domestic and other animals but allow supposed existing cruelty to continue unchecked while they discussed the matter in the hope that improved welfare would not incur costs or political consequences
The Kennel Club is the canine equivalent of Parliament. The most regrettable similarity is that too many of its members are interested only in buttering their own bread. It differs in that it is not a democratically elected body; it has no one to blame but itself if the quality of members continues to sink or for its errors. It also differs in that its concern for canine welfare is genuine and well informed but will still commit errors either of omission or commission.
However the courtesy, helpfulness, knowledge and efficiency of its staff deserves only commendation. When they fail to reach the highest standards the fault can usually be traced to members of one or other of the club's myriad committees. Conversely it was a ‘committee’ that got the club involved in the unprecedented support for research into canine problems, which runs and continues to improve Crufts, which has kept the cost of its services well below those regarded as inevitable elsewhere and which is turning the library and gallery into facilities which deserve their growing international reputation.
The world of dogs is in good hands but tasks remain to be tackled if things are to improve still further.
Living up to my reputation of being a ‘grumpy old man’ I find it difficult to write optimistically about the dog scene; I would be blind if I couldn’t see a change for the better emanating from the Kennel Club but it is so small and so painfully slow that I despair.
Arguably the biggest kick in the teeth was dispensed by the Kennel Club members during 2004 with their blatant refusal to open their ranks and create a bigger membership base. One of the reasons being that the possibility existed that they might be penetrated by people who did not have the interest of the club at heart, similar to what allegedly happened to the RSPCA. Curiously enough the KC’s General Committee headed by Chairman Ronnie Irving, would like to see an extension of membership but the existing members obviously want to preserve their social exclusivity and the benefits thereof.
There is no doubt the Kennel Club is putting in an effort to interest the general public in dog showing, Discover Dogs with its two great annual exhibitions will interest many in pedigree dogs but getting them into a show ring is an entirely different matter. If they eventually find their way into the show scene how long will they stay? Until they discover the judging is not what it should be, until they run out of money and motivation or until they realise the manipulations going on in their breed club are to the detriment of themselves and their breed?
Apart from the KC’s desperate efforts to improve the level of judging I saw little evidence in 2004 that the Kennel Club were interested in controlling the machinations of the breed clubs where judging lists were concerned, where well respected dog people who had passed the KC’s own criteria are being refused and where respected exhibitors are refused entry in their own breed shows. It may be trivial to the Kennel Club but all these happenings serve to increase unrest and distrust of the authority which will, in the fullness of time, turn people off!
For me personally, 2004 was a year in which I was more actively involved in showing and breeding my dogs. This, in itself, was thoroughly rewarding. It has probably brought home to me how important I feel it is for those with what might be called 'the power of the pen' to be involved with dogs at grass roots level. I feel strongly that this can also be said for those who are prominent in the administrative side of dogdom, and this has been highly evident in the approach taken by the Kennel Club’s Chairman, Ronnie Irving.
I have been heartened by the fact that more emphasis is now being placed on the training of judges. This will, I hope, lead to judges having a better understanding of the dogs they are asked to assess. This should prove to have an effect right across the board, from novice single-breed judges to all-rounders.
Each of us has an interest in a particular aspect of the canine world. Some are involved in hunting, and through a close friend who participates in the hunt I, too, have learned to ‘feel’ for those who have had so much to contend with over the last year. I strongly suspect that the rest of us who exercise our dogs in open places, particularly if we have running hounds or terriers, have not been made sufficiently aware of how the hunting bill affects us too.
The year of 2004 has also opened my own eyes to the tremendous disparity in the way we care for our pedigree dogs. I know we each have our own personal codes of ethics, and so it has always been but, without going into detail, I do so hope that in the coming years more of us will treat our dogs as friends for life, not just exhibits for the showring.