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VIEWS ON… Personal Responsibility

May I be the very last person to wish you Happy New Year. It already seems months ago and 98% of what was a "good idea" back on January 1st has already gone the way of all New Year resolutions; down the drain.

Just out of curiosity, were any "dog" resolutions made? The ‘walk the dog more to get rid of the excess pounds personally gained over Christmas’ are laudable, and your dog will greatly appreciate it, but were any serious resolutions made? If a late January resolution can be suggested how does deciding to assume personal responsibility sound?

Dare you decide to do such a thing? Many people don’t seem to want to or literally don’t have any concept of the idea as more and more the attitude seems to be becoming blame anyone, but yourself. We are still - just - responsible for our own actions, so admit to it and revel in it once more.

‘Champions should not be shown, it isn’t fair. The Kennel Club should change the system,’ has occupied a fair few column inches over the latter end of 2005. Surely there are enough Kennel Club rules about who should show what, or not, under a judge who has bred or handled a dog without anymore being needed. Anything else should be left to the responsibility of the exhibitors, and their own ethics, as to whether to show a dog. Are the complaints for the good of the breed or their own preferment? If the dog is good enough it should get there.

Increasingly it seems that Championship shows print a start time for judging to commence and then, with five minutes to go, a call comes over the loudspeaker that judging will be delayed because of an accident, the weather or a feng-shui expert has decided the vibes are wrong. The last reason is written tongue in cheek but how long will it be before that, or something similar, is heard? The job of Show Secretary/Manager is stressful enough with all the continuing changes of rules and regulations so shouldn’t the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Why should judging be put back when, in 99 percent of cases, the bulk of exhibitors are already on site? Travelling the hundreds, nay thousands, of miles that some exhibitors do every year we are all in the hands of the Gods as to whether any venue will be reached on time. We are personally responsible to get there and, if the fates are against, why should the people who were smiled on by the Gods have to wait? Is it because some show committee is fearful that. in these increasingly ‘litigious’ times, somebody may sue because they have missed their classes and, as the relevant committee were aware of the matter, courtesy of the mobile phone, they could have taken steps to avoid such an instance?

Whether or not you think the Kennel Club should officiate in ‘domestic matters’ within a breed club is irrelevant. They won’t do it. It is their ball and they decide who will play with it and even who will be allowed in to watch. Petty spats between individuals are left to the relevant individuals to sort out as the K.C. do not/cannot soil their hands. They are there to sort out the rules as written in the red book and even though it gets heavier by the year it does not cover "personal". It may be difficult, it may be embarrassing, it may be nigh on impossible, but face up to it if you have a problem with people in your breed. Talk it out with them or decide never to speak to them again and forget the matter. It’s in your hands - but make sure you have witnesses.

Political correctness is taking over the world and we are increasingly being told what to think, say and believe. Everybody knows better than us. Everybody is doing the ‘right thing’, but is it? Shouldn’t we, dog people, be proud of what we do? When did we collectively last stand up and say ‘we are good at what we do and we are proud’? Why should we feel slightly ashamed to say that we are dog breeders; we keep dogs in kennels; we re-home dogs if they do not attain the standard we hope for; we keep dogs going in an increasingly alien age.

After all isn’t the dog game a continuation of history? If we were a plant the Royal Horticultural Society would place many of the "seeds" in a national collection. If a penguin, National Graphic would create an online game to increase the awareness. Pedigree dogs though aren’t trendy and are an excellent source of poor stories for the media so we usually deny it when asked if we breed dogs as if we are doing something criminal. Alright so don’t shout it out to all and sundry that there is valuable stock on the premises, but why deny something of which we are all proud?
The Kennel Club is desperately trying to re-invent itself in a new touchy feely way and although many policies it has adopted are beneficial some are seemingly just reducing its core business, pedigree dogs, to a very secondary sideline as demonstrated by the welcome page on its own website: ‘The Kennel Club's primary objective is ‘to promote in every way, the general improvement of dogs’. This site aims to provide you with information you may need to be a responsible pet owner and to help keep your pet safe, healthy and contented’. We all know that breeding and showing dogs, and all stock, is way down the general consciousness ladder but surely Clarges Street should remember a little more prominently what they were founded for!
The ‘all things to all people’ bandwagon is one that many are leaping upon. The Dogs Trust changed its name from the National Canine Defence League because people didn’t ‘understand’ canine. Instead of attempting to educate they dumbed down to the lowest common denominator and changed the name. They are also seemingly changing their policies. Their aims say that Dogs Trust shall be non-political, non-sectarian and non-racial. The objects of Dogs Trust shall be (and for the avoidance of doubt whether within the United Kingdom or elsewhere throughout the World) to protect dogs from maltreatment, cruelty and suffering but it hasn’t stopped them emailing their supporters to ask them to lobby for the forthcoming Animal Welfare Bill to totally ban tail docking. A procedure that, whether you approve of it or not, has yet to be found to be cruel, cause suffering or considered maltreatment. What has that to do with personal responsibility? Ask yourself what you believe and, if you support them, why? Just stop gritting your teeth.

When somebody, on making an enquiry about your breed, says something very wrong, don’t think of a nice way to dissuade them. Just tell them so. They may be offended but you are taking responsibility for your breed. It is your breed that is important, not somebody’s delicate feelings. The television, the internet or the neighbour are often the source of a lot of information these days. This information is often of a generic nature and not that accurate so don’t be rude but stand up and be counted. You have served 10, 20, 30 years in the service of your dogs so use your personal knowledge the best way you can. All that is left for many breeds of dog are to become adored companions so do your best to make sure that goal is met. You are the expert!