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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Issue: 23/02/2018

Watershed moment?

I LOVED the excellent articles by Geoffrey Davies and and Ann Ingram in last week's issue, they seemed 'to chime'.  Ann and Geoffrey both have life long interests and are steeped in the International dog game, knowing exactly what make the whole scene tick. They have been through the mill, bred many good dogs, shown top dogs and judged at the highest level.  So when they speak, we should listen.
Geoffrey relates  he has never known such great disquiet amongst the fancy, and Judges need caring for too!    
Ann raising the way forward is for student judges.  Anne like myself, is well versed in the FCI system.  Over decades, we have been assigned student judges when officiating at FCI shows.    Subsequently our students often were invited to Crufts and leading breed clubs in the UK.   So the system certainly proved for some years, it has merit and certainly accepted by our Judges Sub.
Some years ago, I remember Birmingham City, who have always been a forward thinking Club, took on the idea of  Student Judges.  Keith Young, then  Secretary, was able remind me how Birmingham City invited people  to partake in the scheme as a pilot.  Those choosing to take up the offer would appear named in the Schedule, with the judge they had chosen as their tutor.  Like all good ideas, it was simple and had everything to recommend it. However for some reason, at that time in our history, it did not progress.  Although it was a great brainwave, perhaps ahead of its time?
The United Kingdom has long been recognised at the 'cradle of dog shows'.  We have a proud legacy to maintain!!  Has a 'watershed moment' arrived on how the KC goes forward to train our urgently needed judges of the future?  
Yours etc
Jean Lanning

Bereft of logic

It is not apparent from Mr Cavill's column (Speakers' Corner 16 February) where his expertise actually lies, but it is clear that it is not in any of the regulatory disciplines under discussion. The argument presented is logically bereft and yields to the slightest analysis. 
The fatal flaw is that none of the regulatory regimes under discussion are directed at the subject product itself. Alcohol, tobacco, and puppies are not banned "products". Neither is the sale of them banned. The ban in each case is aimed at what may or may not be done with the product at one or more stages of its progress from supplier to consumer. 
The same is true for puppies. The fact that some people appreciate alcohol, tobacco or pet dogs is nothing to the point, and the regulatory regime is not dependent upon the numbers who approve or disapprove of the subject matter under control. All the licensing regimes are heavily dependent upon are whistle-blowers, but members of the public do not report transgressions against the law based upon their personal consumption or enjoyment of the product in question. Years of practise in regulatory and criminal law demonstrates that responsible citizens are highly motivated to report law-breaking because of their inherent belief in the protection of the community by that law, whether they are personally affected at the time or not. Citizens are aware that if they are not affected by law-breakers today, they might be tomorrow.  
Exactly the same is true for sales of puppies. It is not the puppies that will be outlawed, nor the sale of them per se, but the specific link in the supply chain that allows third party dealers to sell puppies to the public to the detriment of the animal's welfare. Members of society who found themselves unable to support or expose such a ban on such an activity will be rare indeed.  People are more than capable of naming and identifying their strong emotions in favour of animals and their strong emotions against harm to animal welfare, in a way in which Mr Cavill appears incapable of doing. The former emotion drives the latter: it does not preclude it, and it makes the reporting of a breach of Lucy's Law highly likely in the majority of instances, not the reverse. 
It is peer pressure that would come to bear on third party puppy sale ban as well. Currently, there is no taboo about buying a puppy online. Nor would there be if some third party dealers were licensed to do so. The activity is condoned and enshrined. If it were banned outright, precisely as with cigarettes, peer pressure would influence peoples' choices. Buying a puppy from a breeder in the presence of its mother would become the norm, and buying from an agent would be socially unacceptable, and a matter of embarrassment. 
The proposition that Lucy's Law is "unlikely to work" is false. Mr Cavill intends to say that Lucy's Law, comprising a ban on third party sales, will work less effectively than licensing that activity. Both will "work", in that they would be implemented by the passing of law which would achieve its purpose of regulating the activity in question. The issue revolves exclusively around the efficacy of enforcement of that law, which is entirely different. The law "works" in both instances. The question is how many people "get away with it".
Mr Cavill says: "Buying a puppy is not offensive. In fact the vast majority of people love puppies. Buying a puppy is a positive and emotional process". This exposes clearly the fatal flaw in Mr Cavill's argument, which is to equate the approval by the public of buying puppies with an approval of buying puppies from a third party agent. It is not the puppy that is offensive, but the source through which it comes to the detriment of its welfare. Those same people who love the animals will be just the sort of people who would hate the thought of third party impacton welfare, and be more than willing to report it if they see it.
The final part of Mr Cavill's emission is the thesis that if third party sales were banned, those third parties would turn in their droves to breeding. This is akin to arguing that those affected by the smoking ban must have turned without hesitation to tobacco farming. The logic is striking in its absence. There is no more danger of this than outlawed firearms dealers turning their hand to gun making.
It is not clear whether the final parting shot of Mr Cavill's article was meant purely in jest, but in case it was intended to be taken seriously, it should be mentioned. Mr Cavill imagines a scenario, after a  third party ban, of critically low levels of supply of puppies that must, at any cost, be addressed. Why supply should fail so drastically is not explained by him, since third party dealers do not make puppies, and stripping them out of the process does not inherently affect supply. Nevertheless, one of the consequences of this scenario, which apparently troubles Mr Cavill, is the possibility that dog rescue centres and charities would immediately turn to breeding from the dogs in their care to boost numbers. Even imagining the mechanics by which such an enterprise could be undertaken takes serious effort, but not as much as divining any motivation that such centres could possibly have for taking the unlucky and often dysfunctional charges in their care and proliferating them. Mr Cavill will be reassured, however, to understand that, should such a temptation take hold, the dog breeding regulatory scheme would take its usual effect, in the expected way. 
Simply disagreeing with an expert argument is not the same as making one.  It is, furthermore,  a doubtful enterprise to tackle an expert argument by attempting a comparison with competing licensing regimes when the proponent is manifestly not an expert, nor even, apparently, moderately conversant with any of them.
Yours etc
Sarah Clover
Kings Chambers

David Cavill writes: I am not an expert in the law but Ms Clover's approach is predicated on what has happened in the past and I would not disagree with her conclusions in those instances.  However I am an expert in puppies, their purchase, the supply chain and dog ownership in general (as my many educational programmes, articles and books on the subject will attest) and my article was, taking my long and detailed past experience of all previous efforts to 'control' puppy sales into account, about the range of possible outcomes.  I should make it clear that I am in favour of Lucy's Law - it is just that in my opinion it will not be effective and could have unintended consequences in terms of public demand.

Thoughts on student judges

Ann Ingram's article on Student Judges (OD, 16 February, 2018) has prompted me to put pen to paper in order to air a few thoughts of my own, as well as to clarify some slightly incorrect information.
It is very true that the chance to student judge has been available in the UK for a good number of years. Why has it not been put to better use?  I certainly jumped at this excellent opportunity to learn and see many more dogs of a couple of Gundog breeds, which are relatively little known in my native Finland or elsewhere in Scandinavia. The opportunity arose at the recent Manchester Championship Show where I judged the first three days and was free on the Gundog day.  
Once the Secretary of the Show, Paul Harding, had given approval to my request I then approached the two breed judges, both of whom are very well-known and experienced breeder-judges in this Group, namely Moray Armstrong who was due to judge Weimaraners and Mr. Sjoerd Jobse from Sweden who was to be in charge of Large Munsterlanders. Both gentlemen very kindly gave their consent to my request. I then informed Mr. Harding of their approval.  I had a very informative and educational day with both judges.  We never see 80+ Weimaraners or 25 Large Munsterlanders!  Both judges were more than happy to share their knowledge, discuss the exhibits and answer my questions. 
Student judging in the UK is so far a fairly little known and understood concept.  As Ann Ingram points out student judges are commonplace in Scandinavia.  Once we have passed our basic judge's exam consisting of a wide range of subjects such as anatomy, movement etc., then we can start student judging. Prior to this we normally approach the relevant breed club in order to request breed specific tuition.  True - there are two levels of student judging, but the order given in Ann Ingram's article is incorrect. As is logical, level A consists of being a proper student as you can ask questions, discuss the dogs and be guided to pay attention to relevant breed points. Level B consists of independently assessing the dogs, writing critiques and giving relevant grades.  This can be very time consuming as the judge proper cannot release his gradings till the paperwork has been collected from the student judge.  
Sweden, Norway and Denmark arrange Level B exams in connection with their shows with just one judge either passing or failing the student. In Finland Level B exams are almost without exception arranged separately, always with two qualified judges who assess the candidate as well as a Finnish KC representative taking care of the correct running of the event.
I would then like to discuss some of the questions put forward in the article:
1. Did the student have permission and should the breed clubs have been asked? I think the procedure of applying to be a student judge has been explained in the article and in my letter. We in Scandinavia would express our interest in a certain breed to the relevant breed club.  I fully understand this is not as straight forward in the UK where a breed may have a number of breed clubs.  Having said that I would find it quite natural to approach a breed club to inform them of my interest.
2.  Should it be announced before the start of the judging? It is very much a custom in Scandinavia to have the student judge's name printed in the catalogue as well as list the breed(s) the person will be student judging.  Failing the inclusion in the catalogue, a board will be present in the ring with the student's name.  In Manchester Mr. Armstrong very kindly made an announcement before the judging started explaining the purpose of me being in the ring.
3. Should a judge awarding CC's for the first time in the breed have a student? We have a very clear rule about this in Scandinavia. You must have completed five judging appointments in the relevant breed before you can accept a student judge in your ring. Whilst I fully appreciate Ann's long experience as a judge I still do not think that a judge awarding CC's for the first time should have a student in the ring.  It might be advisable to have a clear recommendation about this.  
4.  Without the benefit of the above mentioned what is the best way for future judges to learn? I think the answer is simple and straightforward - your thirst for knowledge and will to learn are undoubtedly the "motors" which will drive you forward on your learning path. You can visit breeders, talk to your peers, there is a lot of good material to be found such as excellent breed specific Powerpoint presentations from many countries. Libraries are useful and the Kennel Club library houses a magnificent collection of rare and out-of print books full of valuable information and photos. 
Yours etc
Elina Haapaniemi


Pedigree and proud!

I am pleased that Ms Kisko took the time to reply to my letter about the timing of the Obreedience competition at Crufts this and every year.However, I feel that she has failed to grasp the point I was trying to make.
I obviously did not make it as clear as I intended that I had written the letter as a response to the article in your issue of Jan 26th entitled "Pedigree and Proud.
My letter was not motivated by self-interest. I am not one of "a lot of people" who "would prefer to have their own event in an area of Crufts with higher visibility."
I am not competing in Obreedience at Crufts this year. When I work my dogs I am interested in the quality of the performance, not how many people are watching. Sometimes the fewer the better!
I wrote the letter because I am passionate  about pedigree dogs. Over the next few weeks, I know the media will be full of adverse publicity about pure bred dogs; their detractors are many and vociferous. When I walk my dogs, I see far more "designer cross breeds" than pedigrees.
Breed show entries continue to decline, and shows fold because of lack of support. The kind of person who now buys a cockapoo would once have bought a pedigree, and perhaps become interested in breed showing. But no longer.
So the KC come up with the idea of Obreedience, to show the public that beauty and training  ability can go together.
If a firm came up with a product, then made sure no -one saw it and didn't advertise it, they wouldn't expect it to sell, would they?
But this is what is happening to Obreedience.
Crufts is a vast event to organise, I realise that. It is not up to me to suggest when Obreedience should be re - scheduled. As for clashing with breed classes; if a competitor enters two events at the same show this can always happen. However Crufts is a four day show, and rotates the groups, so it is never going to be a problem for all of the people all of the time.
As I said in my previous letter, I believe that Obreedience at Crufts can be far more of a spectacle than some other working disciplines - but that is not to denigrate the worth of those disciplines.
However, if it is to have any influence on the public's attitude to pedigree dogs, then the public must know it exists.
Yours etc
Jean Walker

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