The response to Monday's post took me a little by surprise and I felt I must acknowledge some of the feedback I've received, and maybe clarify one or two points made (although I do believe I made my point quite clear over there without having to go back over it.) I'm, let's say, a little exasperated (OK, I'm proper annoyed) about some of the messages I've received (including one threat to be taken to court) So, I'm going to clarify, and then I'm not going to mention the event any more - because, let's just say, you can only bang your head against a brick wall so many times before damaging your brain.
Firstly, I stand by every word I said - most importantly:
"Even one dog suffering is one dog too many."
Secondly: It wasn't a sweeping statement on all dog exhibitors, which I made very clear - because there are many wonderful dog exhibitors, and I know a lot of them personally and I know they are dedicated to their dogs - but it was a statement about those who clearly do not understand what an absolute privilege it is to own a dog.
Question (asked by several, in varying ways): "Surely you could find something good about the show to write about?"
No. I couldn't. I could not, as a dog lover, come home and sit here and write about other aspects of the show that didn't show cruelty, by turning a blind eye to what I did see and skirt around the issues I witnessed. What sort of person does that make me if I did? Had I not noticed the things I did, then maybe I might have enjoyed the agility, the flyball, the cani-cross, the Friends for Life final, the Scrufts presentation, etc (all the things I wanted to enjoy) and not feel that I'd spent a shed load of money on ferry fares, petrol, parking, food and refreshments, just to go and see [some] dogs get mistreated - something that is abhorrent to me.
My post was not a slating of the Kennel Club. I still hold the opinion that I held before I went, and that is that the KC are doing some good work, like: Investing in research, being more inclusive of non-pedigree dogs, working with rescues, wanting to see changes in legislation about puppy farms, the acquisition of dogs from pet shops, proper and kind training, curbing testing on dogs - there's quite a list. That opinion hasn't changed at all - but, they've some issues to deal with when it comes to their annual dog show - and, as it is indeed their annual dog show, they have to take certain responsibility for what happens there.
My experience showed me that the faults weren't necessarily those of the KC itself, but that of some exhibitors there. (please, please see my use of the word 'some' and remember that I'm saying 'some' and not 'all' - they are very different words with very different meanings, and I really do feel that this was clear in the post, but evidently 'some' didn't think so) The KC cannot be held responsible for an individual's actions towards their dog...but, they can impose strict rules, not guidelines, rules - proper real maccoy 'You're going to be disqualified and kicked out of the event if you don't abide by them.' kind of rules that are actively enforced by recognisable animal welfare officials circulating the halls, to make it crystal clear to all exhibitors (even though many do not need those rules, because they are essentially good and decent people who respect their animals) what kind of handling, behaviour and attitude is expected during the show.
Some of what I witnessed was archaic, stuck-in-a-rutt rot that needs to be addressed and whizzed into the 21st Century to embrace modern dog ownership. There is a real want in this country for an event that is a true celebration of dogs, not some over-chewed, regurgitated, outdated practise from the late 1800s. An event where we can celebrate our dogs, in all their glory, without [some] garrotting them with cheese-wire-esque leads, yanking them around when they don't 'comply', putting them in tiny crates for hours on end, leaving them alone on benches confused and miserable, making them do things they don't want to do, grooming over and over - all for the glory of a sodding silver cup and a title.
And yes, the KC have a long way to go with breeding standards (which is in fact a joint effort of the judges themselves, the breeders and the KC - so let's not keep passing the buck. Everyone involved has their part to play to make absolutely sure healthy and happy dogs are produced. The onus is on the breeders to ensure they are breeding for health and not looks, and then judges reporting properly any concerns and taking the breed standards set out seriously, and the KC needs to be seen to properly enforce all of that and continually review breed standards to ensure all is well) but, as I said, I'm no expert on this and am not experienced enough or have any qualifications to comment much about it (I plan to work on that) - apart from saying that I don't want to see dogs with so much saggy skin that they get sores in the folds and can't put one leg in front of the other effectively because of said saggy skin. I want to see dogs who can see and who are not in pain because their lashes are growing into their eyeballs - and I want to see dogs who don't struggle walking because someone somewhere said that that 'this' kind of breeding is better than, you know, the one that allows the DOG TO WALK PROPERLY for the whole of their lives. I don't want to see dogs struggling to breathe because their noses have been bred away, or dogs struggling to run because their backs have been bred too long and their legs too short. I don't want to see them kicking up overly long ears, or not be able to give birth naturally, or clean themselves properly because they can't reach their bits - FOR GOODNESS SAKES - and - I don't want to be called a troll when I plead for these humane things, because, by jimminy, if that's trolling, if I'm (and others like me) are really being accused of trolling by asking for a bit of common decency and respect for these animals when it comes to their breeding, then there really is no hope for any of us is there?
And, one last thing - if one more person shouts "You're ruining our sport." I might just poke my own eyeballs out with my own eyelashes: Dog. Showing. Is. Not. A. Sport. It's a hobby (the Kennel Club even says so), it's a pastime that a community of people do together - and it's supposed to be fun for all who participate (and that includes the dogs too.) Let's make that happen, eh?
If you want to come and shout at me some more - I'm over on Facebook and Twitter - or of course you can leave a comment below.
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