Saturday, January 09, 2010

Who Makes the Rules?

What makes the perfect dog? That depends on who you are talking to. If it is someone who is into showing and pure bred dogs, then they will have a totally different idea than someone who wants companionship. The Kennel Club sets strict rules about how each breed of dog should look. Should it have a tail? How long should the muzzle be? What and where is the correct coloring? I have no idea who comes up with all theses rules but it has led to terrible over-breeding causing lots of problems in certain dogs. Too narrow a head on Collies and Dobermans, hip problems on almost all big dogs and so on. I have been very lucky in having a lot of pure-bred dogs but they were all rejects and not suitable for showing or breeding. My best friend when I was young joined 4H-Dog and got a Dalmatian to breed and show but when her parents spent a fortune on this dog they didn’t know all the rules. The dog was fabulous in character and body-build, she had a beautiful shiny coat and lots of spots. When my friend went to her first show she was immediately disqualified and told not to bother trying to show her or breed her. It turned out that a few hairs on a spot on her ear touched a spot on her eye.
This is apparently a no-no. So all her time and money for a show dog were wasted but she still had a fabulous friend. My Bearded Collie had a similar problem and was donated to me. His name was Wilberforce: we called him Wilbur. He was brown and white and his ears were half brown and half white matching perfectly with his head but ears are only allowed to be of a solid color to make the dog have any value.
Who decides these things? Wilbur turned out to be my demonstration dog for service-dogs. He appeared in many international events and fairs on disabilities and even participated in a commercial for Telefonica. He was a fabulous dog all the way around, but because of his ears being of two colors he was considered useless and to be put down. Again I ask who decides these things? I had four Belgian Shepherd pups given to ANIMO for training as service dogs because a black male had mated with a salt and pepper bitch making them not saleable and not breed-able. My children each took one and trained them to do different tasks to help disabled people. One was very good at getting horses out of their stalls and leading them to the ring for people in wheel-chairs and so on. We were never able to finish training the Belgian Shepherds due to my children growing up and going away to school and lack of funding. But they went to a fabulous home where they were easily trained to totally different tasks as work dogs on a farm, protecting and taking care of the property, animals and children.

The town hall had a dog show during fiesta and we decided to enter these five dogs, not knowing it was an official kennel-club show. One of the shepherds, a salt and pepper won best of breed and I never saw a judge so embarrassed, as when our black one went in to find out it was the brother of the one she just awarded best of breed to. When it was Wilbur’s turn we were just sent straight out of the ring, after the judge had reached between his back legs only to discover that he was castrated and, then of course, his ears were two different colors. How many fabulous dogs go to waste just because of their coloring or some other invented flaw? A lot of rules are changing now about cutting ears and tails and they are trying to solve the over-breeding problem but really don’t you think a good dog is a good dog no matter how it looks? One of our best dogs was a tiny mutt, we had for twenty-one years, and her name was Freetxua. It started as Free To A Good Home but the longer she stayed with us it just became Freetxua. I have mentioned her in several of my earlier stories because of some of the spectacular things she did even though every one would have to admit she looked like two different dogs glued together. Not so cute but a family favorite.

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