The Tipping Point, Another View

by Susi on January 1, 2013

in Dog Fanciers, dog fancy, dog show

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Ed. Note: I never dreamed, quite honestly, that my last article, Is the Dog Fancy at a Tipping Point? would evoke such a response. I simply wrote what I felt and saw in the hopes that expressing some niggling suspicions at the back of my mind would bring me clarity and relief. I was ready to move on with a light hearted account of my house appraisal, but evidently the article resonated with many of you for a variety of reasons since the conversation doesn’t seem ready to be “put to bed.”  

Talking is good. So is reflection and soul searching. For that reason, I’m doing something I’ve never done before.  I’m reprinting with permission a comment Jon Kimes made to the “Tipping Point” article. I don’t share every one of his opinions, but the tough questions he poses will, I suspect, continue an important dialogue.

I agree with your feelings; I’ve held them for a very long time. But as I read through all the interesting comments, it still hit home how much “we” really don’t get it. The dog fancy used to just be regarded as eccentric, if people didn’t understand it well, it was just something weird you did. Now days many people, as has been pointed out, consider dog breeding and showing to be a political statement. And what used to not be analyzed and critiqued is now evaluated critically.

There are so many aspects to this you could generate dozens more blogs about it. Let’s look at dog shows. Do we survive the red-face test with Poodle handlers tying in switches into topknots, terrier handlers coloring their entries (even when they don’t need it), when ears are fixed and tails are fixed (fixed tails in long legged terriers are endemic). When people leave dogs standing on stackers on the grooming tables for up to an hour, not allowing the dog to sit so he won’t smash his hock hairdo? How about hanging out in the execise area where coated dogs are dropped into small wire bottomed xpens as their only exercise so they won’t break their coats? How does that look to someone not used to seeing dogs so “carefully” managed? Are we relevant when to become a top winner you pretty much need $70,000 or more per year so you have slick advertisements everywhere so judges will recognize the dog and handler in the ring? Our judges are not even expected (nor desired it would seem) to judge objectively. If you think that’s an exaggeration you are naive.

We brag on our health testing but lots and lots and lots of breeders are either not testing or they invariably make excuses why their particular special dog who didn’t pass is an exception. Testing is supposed to be about de-selecting stock, not as a certification to include the stock – the latter perspective is why people will pay alot of money to go to a vet to get the best hip xrays possible. Does that feel like we are trying to solve problems or trying to pacify ourselves? Yes there are committed breeders, no doubt. But it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the barrel. We’ve got bad apples in our barrels.

Everyone slams HSUS, yet apparently no one ever bothers to research what they do. They do legislation. That’s what they do, so getting bent out of shape because they do what their charter instructs them to do is whistling in the woods. HSUS isn’t out to kill good breeders. The DO NOT understand good breeders. We are a big blue dot in their scope on puppy mills. Their legislation is aimed at enacting legislation that an inspector making $20,000 can comprehend. So do we partner with them like our lives depend on it so we can develop a workable solution? No we vilify them and chastise anyone in the community who DARES to suggest they have any agenda other than extinguishing pets. We are so ignorant we use PETA and HSUS and ASPCA in the same sentence, every one of those have totally different agendas.

Will a public support us when they find out the AKC supports puppy millers? AKC advertises in their magazines – do your readers know that? How do we survive that red-face test?

My only disagreement with you in your article was that you said we are like canaries in the coal mine. Unfortunately, we have no such luxury. We are in the coal mine with no canaries and we have absolutely no idea how the gases are poisoning us as we stand about very unclear on what’s going on; we just know it’s bad.

Unless and until we tease apart all these and many more issues, we will continue to be extremely unsuccessful in reversing the direction this ship has taken. This isn’t a simple issue and it’s not all “their” fault and by the way, “they” aren’t going anywhere. We need to put ourselves very sympathetically into everyone else’s shoes, to see the world as they do. You can only solve problems when you work WITH people who you see as your adversaries. We need to admit there is plenty in what what we do that is subject to criticism and work to correct those issues.

My appreciation to Jon for allowing me to share his comments.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice January 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Wow! Now THERE’S an article I can say smacked me in the head! I am going to re-read it, several times, and digest what I read just now. This is so spot-on that I am astonished I haven’t let even the glimmer of this into my head! OF COURSE the HSUS is a legislative body. OF COURSE the ASPCA has a different agenda – we simply lump all “them” into a category as “we” are lumped. My purebred show dogs have very long coats. They are never crated in a way that protects the hair. They are never left standing on a table alone, and never for any length of time. They are exercised in their yard – and with plentiful toys. They are babied, brushed, loved, allowed to get muddy (oh, so muddy!) and I love them as I love my family. But yes, there are those who can and do put winning above the comfort of the dog, and can afford to spend thousands on “campaigning” a dog. I cannot. While I personally know several people who can and do live that lifestyle, the VAST MAJORITY of show dog people are hardworking individuals who do this as a hobby. A passionate, expensive hobby to be sure, but the dog is family first and the ribbon is just a decoration on the wall. We have to band together – so tell us how. I am willing to do my part.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Like you, Alice, my dogs are my pets and family members. Like yours, mine have satisfying emotional lives (well, they’re still waiting for a side of beef to fall from the sky right in front of them), and likes yours, they get grubby, corded coat and all. But I, too, have seen things of which I don’t approve, and I’ve said something because I have to live with myself. What is it they say about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I thought Jon’s comments needed to see the light of day.


JFK January 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

“fur babies”??? Oh no, not you, too…that’s totally AR….typical “adopt don’t shop” lingo…blechhh


Susi January 2, 2013 at 9:55 am



j harrison January 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Wow, I just read Jon Kimes comments. I did NOT read what he was commenting on but, he is spot on about a lot of things. I think that it is disgusting about the “topknot” weaves that poodles now wear. Disgusting. I worked for a very big handler (in my breed then) and, the crap I saw in the early 80’s was horrible but, nothing compared to what is going on now! There were color “things” that the terrier people used that we actually used on a red (whosit) special. There were caffiene pills given to dogs but, the mutilation that some of the “Terrier Kings” did and still do is so gross. “Fixing” a tail is harmful to the dog. It hurts.
I think the factor that all of these hell bent to win and make big stats people forget is THE TOP DOGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BREED REPRESENTATIVES!!!!!! Why should real breeders interested in breeding to the “big” winner (yes there are breeders that still do that, look at current pedigrees of any breed) want to breed to dog A if they knew the owner and handler “fixed” a tail, etc. for any breed just to win. yes, they are breeding to a top winner but, not to a “real” representative of the breed. you breed to a dog with a “fixed” anything, you are not breeding to a proper dog as it was wrong in the first place!
The handler that I worked for had a favorite comment…. There is nothing in AKC regulations that say you can’t make a black dog blacker or a white dog whiter. Hs excuse for using the Roux dyes. Another popular handler “quip”, no foreign substances on a coat…. I only use American made. In my breed (in the late 70’s, early 80’s) there were not physical fixes as in some of the other breeds but, there was still a lot of chicanery.
My two foundation bitches had cataracts. One was sired by the top winning whosit of the time. My other bitch was out of a litter sister to his sire who was the top producing stud (over 100 CH. at that time). That is why I don’t have whosits anymore. Breeders lie about health issues and, that causes problems when us people that REALLY try to produce healthy pups aer not taken seriously!
Remember when Dr. W. was the one to go to for braces?
None of that crap improves our breeds and, if we want to be taken seriously as breeders of good PETS, we have to NOT cheat. ALL of the puppies in a litter are not show quality and if we don’t want J. Public to buy from pet stores, we need to have reasons why.
My last litter out of my CH. bitch had four males. One had no testicles. One had two testicles. Two had one testicle. The one with two testicles had a bad bite as did one with one testicle. The breeder of the sire was sooo shocked! (It was a line bred litter on her lines). She has no bad bites in her lines!! i did a survey on all of the dogs that I groom with bad bites of that breed. (Yes, stupid me should have done that first!) Turns out that 98% of the bad mouths come from her breeding. She is from a different state so, I never suspected.
Breeders, please be true to your breed and your pet dogs……those are the ones that are important in stamping out the puppy mills and the need for rescue groups!


Susi January 2, 2013 at 1:02 am

I don’t mean for Jon’s comment to “release the Cracken” of abuses in our sport for I maintain that the majority of owners, breeders and handlers are ethical people who care deeply about their dogs. Where there is unethical behavior, I’d like to see each of us deal with it fairly, systematically and in a manner that preserves the sport, but most importantly, elevates the care of the dogs in our charge.


Alice Harrington January 2, 2013 at 12:07 am

No, Suzi, no – ASPCA is just like HSUS – they hired Nancy Perry (married to J Lovvorn – HSUS senior lawyer and Rico lawsuit defendant) – she is doing just what she did for HSUS, working the Hill for the AR agenda. She didn’t move or anything. Many staff move back and forth among these organizations.

There are NO good breeders as far as HSUS is concerned. They may moderate their message when they want to accomplish something but you go to THEIR events, which I do, breeders are evil, evil, evil.

They don’t give a darn whether an inspector can understand legislation. The purpose of HSUS legislation is to layer rule upon rule to suffocate the person or industry they are targeting. They work hard to have unclear, confusing, inane laws. Best example – banning devocalizing of dogs and CATS. Nobody devocalizes cats – I got that from the best vet in the business. But they want to outlaw it!!! This is a favorite tactic – they propose laws that include items that are ALREADY in place but make it seem there are no laws on the books addressing animal cruelty or neglect.

Another example – prop 2 in Calif so chickens can have bigger cages. No one has figured out what it will take to comply with that ballot initiative. HSUS just keeps saying to egg producers – no, that proposal is not really compliant, but we are not going to tell you what is.

You have missed the mark here Suzi. I have a lot (two words by the way) of time in the trenches and I have felt the cold, hard, sinister clutches of HSUS and all their surrogates around my neck – there is nothing redeeming about any of them. I don’t care what label they wear.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 12:57 am

But see, Alice? Your comments provided additional information that might not have been seen by my readers anywhere else. Sharing the comments did what I hoped it would do, it prompted discussion, data, etc. I’m really glad you responded!


E January 4, 2013 at 5:26 am
this is your downfall the hsus is not anti-dog breeders as they are anti-puppy millers
you think the public doesn’t notice the the akc call them”high volume breeders”
the fact that the akc is only alive because of “high volume breeders”
starting at page 21
With all respect, Pat, we have been taking their money for 75 years and cashing their checks….we have got to accept the fact, we are taking their money; and, yes, … we are endorsing them with our papers. We are telling the world these people meet AKC standards. Now, you may not like that, but the fact is that we have lived off of that for the last 60 years.”-Steven Gladstone
i’ve always wanted a borzoi they are beautiful dogs I was seriously think about buying one but i also volunteer the to the humane society of southern Arizona i train feed and care for them but as Denise Dean ,Delegate from the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America said “I belong to an all-breed club that luckily is not a member
club, because they have been taken over by a local humane society bunch of people and we have major, major problems. Luckily they can’t send a Delegate because they are not a member club.” page
i would not feel welcomed if the delegate of my borzoi club said i was causing “major,major problems”
anyways back to the borzoi i was looking for a borzoi breeder and i found a good one from but as i was looking around the akc website i found the delegate meeting minutes the someone that i linked to you changed my mind entirely about the akc so i decided not to get one i wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing the money i spent on akc papers where going to the some origination that was on the same side as puppy farmers that fought every single peace of law that would bring them down.
i got all this information just through wondering around on the akc website the public sees this and knows this and just like me changes their mind about a akc purebred and that is the dog fancy’s downfall the public sees the akc do nothing about puppy mills or mutt dogs. nothing at all that the the majority of the pubic can’t afford a 1,000 droller dog


jan dykema January 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

what exactly should the AKC do about mutt dogs? as for the $1,000 dollar dog.. dogs will be much much MORE expensive if the HSUS and their ilk etc have their way.. and they won’t be well bred not health tested.. nor even see a vet..they will be sold “underground” and in clandestine situations
here is something to read in your spare time..
Susi I am not sure if you have read this either.. worth the time..


E January 22, 2013 at 9:25 pm

with all the inbreeding in purebred dogs mutts are much healthy my mother had a mutt dog that lived to be 13 years old mutts don’t need to be “health tested” mutt dogs are natural selection at its finest.


Susi January 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm

E, that’s just silly, if not highly unscientific and anecdotal, at best. Mutts get DM, cancer, congestive heart failure, you name it, they can get it, too. Your mother’s mutt lived to be 13? So what? I’ve had dogs of my breed live to be 16+. So there.

jan dykema January 2, 2013 at 2:43 am

“We are so ignorant we use PETA and HSUS and ASPCA in the same sentence, every one of those have totally different agendas.”
Really Jon? and can you tell me what those agendas are and how they differ in your mind. I might also mention that you see the HSUS as a lobbying group. You use the word legislation so I am not entirely clear what you mean when you say “they do legislation”.. non profits are only allowed to do a very small amount of lobbying.. so even HSUs has to have a separate arm for this purpose however they seems to blur the line so often that even you think that legislation is their main focus.. which believe would cause them to lose their non profit status. have to think they have different agenda when they have so much crossover in their employees who seem to float from PETA to the ASPCA and then to HSUS.
as for that legislative effort here is what Nathan Winograd ( of the No -Kill movement that HSUS seems to despise)says about that:

“HSUS also fights reform efforts nationwide, including legislation introduced by animal lovers in several states mandating simple, common sense procedures which would protect shelter animals. HSUS successfully defeated animal protection legislation that would have banned the gas chamber, banned breed discrimination, mandated that shelters not kill animals when non-profit rescue groups are willing to save those animals, and which would have prohibited the common practice of killing animals when there are empty cages, a thoroughly reprehensible sheltering protocol which HSUS endorses unequivocally, while simultaneously disparaging the motives of anyone who questions these actions.” and of course that is just a small portion.. AKC advertises in ‘puppy miller’ magazines? could you be more clear and tell us which magazines you consider to be house organs of “puppy mils”? meanwhile HSUs has advertised gas chambers in their “sheltering” magazine.. and a manual on how to kill pets and rewarded a shelter in their “shelters we love’ that uses the gas chamber to kill . That seems very clear to me. How does that pass the ‘red faced test”? How does claiming Vick to be a ‘good pet owner” pass the red faced test? and many more.. Claiming to have Vicks dogs and raising millions when they flat out lied.. when caught ‘red handed’ they had to retractbut still they continue.. The story of fay.. not Faye as they called her. here is statement from Fay’s ( not Faye) caretaker;
‘I am rather sad that HSUS has chosen to use Fay (not Faye) in their fund drive. Fay has never received a dime from HSUS. How do I know? Because I am the one that is fostering Fay. Fay is currently going through expensive surgeries to recreate medically need lips so her teeth do not fall out, her jaw bone stops deteriorating, and she can live a normal life. HSUS never contacted us regarding Fay. In the video John states she is in a loving home…really…thanks for the compliment but Fay is looking for her forever home.’
in the light of these ( and these are just a few) exposes . a little chalk or hair spray seems rather minor in the dishonestly department.
on another topic:
“Our judges are not even expected (nor desired it would seem) to judge objectively. If you think that’s an exaggeration you are naive.’
Well then call me naive
You judge my breed, so I will tell you now. YES I expect you to judge objectively. So far you have not disappointed but if you ever did I would take my dogs elsewhere. I do not expect that I will have to do that, do you?
Thank you for sharing your opinions. I respect your right to do so. i also respectfully disagree with you on many points but that is what makes the world an interesting place. See you in the ring, either giving out ribbons or getting them


doniree January 2, 2013 at 8:02 am

Hi Susi!


Susi January 2, 2013 at 9:04 am

Good to see you here, Doni.


Jenn Hartman January 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

Sigh….Why is it I wait a lifetime of raising my daughters to have the time to live my own childhood dream…only to have it ripped apart as I arrive. 2 decades of research in my breeds…2 decades of dreaming of someday stepping in the ring with one of my own…2 decades likely shot. Thanks people (if you feel guilt, yes you!) Thanks for allowing me to have hope of doing something wonderful with my life, just so the joysuckers can be heard….WHAAAAA….you’re a dog meanie cause you breed….WHAAAAA you’re the cause of every homeless dog cause you bought yours…WHAAAAA I want to be heard cause I am a biggie girl in college now and won’t eat meat to fit in….WHAAAAAAAAAAAA…….Well thanks you big flipping cry babies! Now when I walk out there I will get to see the end of something great. …So what fad will you be rallying for next time, should I check with society before I choose my next lifes goal….UGH!!!


Jay Kitchener January 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

Jon Kimes has a nerve calling us “naive” about what goes on the show ring when he is clearly completely clueless about what the controversial national animal rights groups have become in this second decade of the twenty-first century. I agree that we have bad apples in our sport, but these bad apples do not outnumber the ladies and gentlemen showing their dogs to ladies and gentlemen. Is Jon admitting to us that he is not objective in the ring? If so, I appreciate the heads up. He won’t get an entry from me.

Turning this discussion into a hate-fest for what we may perceive to be the shortcomings of our sport and some of its participants misses the larger and more important point, which is that the controversial national animal rights groups have become rotten to the core. I know this because I have experienced their extremism first-hand. I served on my state legislature’s working group to define “kennel” in statute from 2008-2009. I sat at the table as a volunteer with paid representatives of the Humane Society of the United States. The lies, misinformation and subterfuge coming from these folks was astounding, and it is an experience I will never forget. It is also an experience that has made me commit to fighting these very dangerous groups for the rest of my life.

None of the controversial national animal rights groups, and not a single individual on their payrolls, is an expert on animals of any species. Permitting these folks to dictate public policy for our animals is like permitting avowed atheists to run our churches. It is a recipe for disaster, and that disaster is closer than many of us realize.

And, if you think I exaggerate, consider this: One of the bills HSUS proposed in my state sought to make it a felony (a felony!) for a dog owner to be in possession of stainless steel bowls for feeding and watering dogs. HSUS’s “rationale” in putting forward this bill was that “only dog owners actively involved in dog fighting use stainless steel bowls.”

I’ve been showing my dogs for 17 years. I’ve had many more good experiences in the ring than bad experiences. I’ve been actively fighting the controversial national animal rights groups for seven years. I’ve yet to find any redeeming quality in any of these groups, and I’ve yet to find anyone employed by these groups who possesses a modicum of knowledge about animals of any species.

These are two separate discussions: 1) What’s wrong with our sport? and 2) What’s wrong with the controversial national animal rights groups? I’m happy to have either discussion one at a time.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 11:41 am

Excellent points, and one of the reasons I published Jon’s comment. Often, the real conversation – the gritty information – is in the comments section. Folks like you who’ve been fighting the AR groups bring to the table information many are utterly unaware of. I’m grateful to have it, and even though I’ve become pretty unpopular today by including Jon’s comment, I can’t regret having spurred more information being shared by people who know.


Stormy January 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

I disagree with so much that Jon writes that it’s hard to know where to begin. HSUS isn’t out to kill good breeders? Has Jon ever read any of the hundreds of quotes of HSUS, et al, at all? Here’s just a few HSUS’ charter is not “to do legislation.” In fact, as a 501c3, they are limited in that… in their original charter, 60% of the donations were to be sent to animal shelters. Now they have taken their vegan philosophy to the legislatures and the courts (where in Federal courts, we the public, pay for it). Yes,ASPCA, PeTA, HSUS and many other animal rights groups are the same, and have but one goal in mind, and that is to prevent the breeding and use of animals for food, clothing, research, entertainment and companionship. These are not people that will have a workable solution for us, as their solutions are to keep taking away our rights regarding animals until we have no animals.

Jon writes: “Will a public support us when they find out the AKC supports puppy millers? AKC advertises in their magazines – do your readers know that? How do we survive that red-face test?”

There is something wrong with AKC registering the purebred dog and advertising to register more? Despite the obvious slur on the commercial breeders, are we still so elite as to shun any dog but those breeders of whom “we” approve? AKC registrants can’t supply the xthousands of pups that the public wants to purchase. Isn’t it better to have a respected registry doing the inspections for those commercial breeders?

I do agree that it’s good to get this type of thinking out in the open, if only to understand that we have NOT come a long way, baby… and we have such a long way to go yet.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

THANK YOU, Stormy, for understanding the reasoning behind my publishing Jon’s comment.


Randie January 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thank you for stepping outside the “box” and sharing Jon ‘s thoughts. I know you have taken some public flack and I am quite sure some no so nice private emails as well.
I read this KNOWING you did not agree with everything he wrote –having read your other blogs you would think anyone accusing you agreeing would know better….oh well.
What saddens me most is that many people will agree with Jon–and while he certainly is entitled to his opinion it only serves to divide us further. We cannot afford to be divided in our fight against Peta, HSUS, and the rest of the AR groups/lobbyists that want to take our rights from us.
I see more and more people turned off from this hobby–the negative, discouraged people need to rethink why they are continuing if it is such a miserable pastime. Hobbies should be FUN–and if you are not enjoying yourself why are you still playing? So what if a topknot is pulled off a Poodle’s head–are YOU on the other end of the lead? Are you breeding to the flavor of the month and ignoring the fact that it is not a “stellar” specimen of your breed?
I agree with Jay–yes–there are a few bad apples–but there are many other “bushels” to pick from.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Thank YOU, Randie, for recognizing my intentions in running Jon’s comments. I agree with so much of what you said.


DC January 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm

HSUS once shared it’s dontations with shelters as Stormy pointed out @ 40/60. I work in a shelter. I used to train dogs. I also worked at HSUS as director of the education department for three years. I currently show a dog competitively. I cannot tell you the divided camps I straddle and this conversation is needed because that is so. Why are shelters, dog clubs, trainers, breeders, hobby competitors and dog experts so divided? 20 years of work by AR groups (which HSUS is now), that’s why. Divide and conquer; the oldest trick in the book because it works and is working. We may not have $100 million annually but they don’t really have 11 million supporters. With 60-90 dogs in this country, we have the support they dream of. If only we could tap into it. Didi


DC January 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

60 – 90 MILLION


Susi January 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for the support, DC, and for sharing your experience. For some of my readers, this conversation is their first introduction that there’s “trouble in River City,” and if it makes them think twice about what responsible breeders face, or writing out a check to HSUS because their late night commercial tugged at their heart, mission accomplished. We need to know what we’re facing.


Susan M. Traynor January 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

That divide and conquer the pet world has done it single handedly. “It’s not my breed”, “It’s not a pet choice for me”, “Don’t care for commercial breeders, BYB” or whatever else applies. OH YES IT DOES matter! We have failed miserably not sticking together with ALL pet owner/breeders even if we have no interest in the fate of exotics, snakes, bunnies, guinea pigs…whatever it may be. It is the CHOICE of others to CHOOSE their species so now dog and cat breeder/owners as well as exotics, bunnies, and snakes plus all the rest are up in the cross hairs as individual groups to picked off one-by-one because we didn’t step up “when it wasn’t me”.

Why in the world has the NRA become such a force to contend with in banning gun legislation? Hunters, sportspeople, collectors (who probably don’t even shoot their guns), people interested in self defense or home defense have all banded together to allow the NRA to become our spokes organization. That’s also the reason I renew my membership annually wishing I could donate more to keep my Second Amendment rights secure.


Susan M. Traynor January 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Jon wrote: “Will a public support us when they find out the AKC supports puppy millers? AKC advertises in their magazines – do your readers know that? How do we survive that red-face test?”

Care to tell what a “puppy mill” might be? Cringe when I read or hear this term coined by AR’s and just repeated to evoke an emotional response in the reader or listener. What magazines are in the category of “puppy mill” magazines? Oh, sorry, I forgot that even if one breeds one litter and advertises they automatically become a “puppy mill” who raise the puppies in “deplorable conditions”.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Another reason I used Jon’s comment was my hope that dialogue would disseminate information. I’ve spent time with fanciers who don’t realize that (I’ll say this term quietly) “puppy mill” is one way the AR crowd has lumped all breeders together regardless of our ethics, practices, dedication or facilities. Anyone who reads this (and your comment) now knows not to use that term. You also made excellent points, Susan, by citing the NRA as a force with which to reckon – – and why. Thanks for writing your thoughts.


E January 4, 2013 at 5:37 am

I find it strange that the AKC says you can’t define a puppy mil yet the UK kennel club can?
maybe that’s because the hunte corporation the largest puppy mill broker in the sates proudly displays the akc logo on their website


Susi January 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm

You’ll want to look into the history of the AR movement in the UK, E. I think you’ll see cause and effect at work here. While I won’t defend the AKC’s involvement with the Hunte Corp., I acknowledge that their argument (you HAVE read it, haven’t you?) for their actions is thought provoking for the times in which we live.


Susan M. Traynor January 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Jon wrote: ” We are so ignorant we use PETA and HSUS and ASPCA in the same sentence, every one of those have totally different agendas.”

Have to wonder what the reason behind the legal team representing ASPCA in the long drawn out litigation against Feld Corp -parent Co. of Barnum and Bailey – knew that you obviously don’t for the reason they settled for a $9.3 MILLION dollar settlement paid to Feld.
As you wade through the ever-mounting requests for your charitable dollars, cast a wary eye on these year-end supplicants, as there’s a good chance the charity seeking your money is relying upon an emotional appeal that is at extreme variance with its actual aims and deeds. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), with its humiliating and expensive defeat last week in its decade-long battle to outlaw elephants at Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, is one such charity.

But, while ASPCA now limps away — proverbial tail between the legs — having coughed up a $9.3 million settlement to Barnum & Bailey’s owner, Feld Entertainment, the legal case against its co-defendants (the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS], the Fund for Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Animal Protection Institute, Born Free USA, and the Wildlife Advocacy Project) continues unabated, exposing widespread, coordinated, and illegal conduct from some of America’s largest “animal rights advocacy” groups.


Charlee January 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

And yet Jon makes some valid points. The money needed to “campaign” is growing every day. If the advertising was NOT doing the job, would there be so much of it? When we blatantly allow hair pieces, color etc, we are playing into the public perception of “beauty pagaent”. Are we truly evaluating breeding stock? That said, I disagree with much of what Jon said. I do believe that there are many dedicated breeders who work tirelessly to produce the best specimen that they can. I do believe that the ARistas want to do away w/ all animal interactions, and not believing THAT is naive in the extreme. Thanks for such a great topic, and a providing a venue for discussion.


Tricia January 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Interesting that the focus of commenters is just one portion of Jon’s thoughts. When I searched for pups, researched the breed I was interested in at the time, I found breeders who didn’t allow their dogs out of air conditioned basements in order to preserve coat. I found breeders telling others that they should breed their dog with CHD because he wins so much. Friends who love to show can no longer get points unless they hire a handler. I talked to a breeder who continued to breed his dog aggressive dog, in a breed that is supposed to be dog friendly, because he won so much. And so on with the unhealthy breeds that are caricatures, extremes.

As I said yesterday, there are many show people, breeders doing good. But I am also amazed at the number who lose perspective, have the wrong motives and priorities. The rich organizations mentioned have problems, but they are not the only ones. Better to withhold the defensiveness and attempt to make positive changes I think.


Ken January 3, 2013 at 8:33 pm

While I have great respect for the hard work and devotion that goes into becoming a good breeder, there are many aspects of dog shows I am not a fan of. The dog show really needs to be reexamined and moved into the 21st century. And for Christ’s sake, get rid of those grotesque Poodle topknots.

I also think the dog fancy/AKC is insular and reactionary to the point where it hurts itself almost as much as the organizations that raise their funds off of broad-brush attacks and hateful caricatures of dog breeders and purebred dogs.

That said, Jon completely lost me when he went from dog show basher (a shrill act, but not entirely undeserved) to HSUS apologist. No one ever bothers to research what they do? Please — that’s why we OPPOSE HSUS!


Susi January 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Your opinion is appreciated, Ken, as dialogue is important to understanding what we need to do to reach the public with the fact that the majority of show dogs are carefully and well bred pets, their show hair no different than the girl who gets her “Up Do” for senior prom. Thanks for sharing it.


Ken January 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

If it is the same as an “Up Do,” fine, but what is its importance? How do you explain this to somebody who is at their first dog show, gagging as a plume of Aqua Net wafts toward them from the Poodle ring?

As a breeder, it is easy to explain to somebody why you strive to produce puppies who will grow up to be healthy, structurally sound dogs with great temperaments. It is easy to explain things like breed type, its history and importance. It is also easy to explain what a judge is doing when he or she goes over a dog, watches the dog move, etc. But how do you explain a dog that can only be judged after being styled for hours and covered in gallons of hair product? How does this relate to the breed standard — and more importantly — why? If there is a good reason for this, great — I’d love to hear it!


Carole Raschella January 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

The reason that show dogs seem “exaggerated” is because they are the equivalent of Oscar winners, Super Bowl winners, beauty pageant winners – any competitive environment that showcases the best of the best. Yes, all those arenas have contestants who dabble in a little fakery, and I’m certainly not excusing it in any way, but overall, the cream rises to the top. The best actors, the best pro ball players, even the prettiest Miss Americas, are NOT your average, home town contestant, nor are they meant to be. And the best show dogs aren’t your average home town pet either. At the opposite extreme, there will always be, as someone said, bad apples in every barrel, but the whole point of that statement is that among the vast majority of apples, the bad ones are noticed because there are so few of them.


Norman Epstein January 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

Carole some of your analogy is valid but most of what you wrote IMO has little validity and I say that for the following reasons. Let me begin with what I do agree with. Show dog winners are in many ways like beauty contest winners in that nothing other than a physical type separates the contestants and that type is in part fashioned by what is popular at a given time. There are some years a more womanly shape is in vogue and some years a slighter shape is more popular and as you said some (g) fakery is required i.e., makeup to hide flaws and implants to add what nature did not. Now what I don’t, you may call these show dogs or these ladies who have been parading around show rings trying to get a crown rosette or sash the best, I don’t. These show dogs are only considered the best by that or another show dog population. Take my word for it they are not considered anywhere close to the best by the handlers who actually use them for their indented purpose. I winced every time I heard Roger Caras, God rest is soul, proudly proclaim at the Westminster Kennel Club annual dog show what each breeds function was, was being the operative term, because very few of those best of the best could or would perform there announced functions to the degree necessary to be of use for hard work. I remember after 9/11 Westminster proudly had the SAR dogs that actually worked that tragedy march into the arena to the well earned applause of the crowd. Let me tell you that was the only way those dogs could earn, or win their way into that or for that matter any regional show arena and because of that be considered the “cream (that) rises to the top”. You won’t see the best at those arenas, best being defined and being vital, functional and healthy having types that allow them to fulfill their function as economically as possible. You won’t notice the good ones there “because there are so few of them”. Because in that community they are considered the best, these examples tragically are used by hobby breeders as templates for future generations instead of the vital healthy functional examples that, for the most part, are unable to be successful and because of that seen in the show ring. Please understand show dogs and working dogs use a completely gene pool and because of that look and act very different.


Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill January 14, 2013 at 4:38 am

Norman, you are wrong, and you make entirely too many gratuitous and insulting generalities generalities about the purpose, and selection, of show dogs. In some breeds, indeed, there is ‘show’ and ‘working’ type, but not all. Many breeds have remained dual purpose, and many breeders (self included) insist that dogs used for breeding exhibit talent at their breed’s specialty before being used. I have news for YOU; a lot of us in the *real world* of farming have small use for, and kind of an amused attitude about, ‘working’ dogs in the same way you seem to have for ‘show’ dogs. The fact is, many top winning ‘working’ sheep dogs are not much use in a real farm type situation. On a nice, manicured lawn, with eight to twenty sheep that are used to dogs, maneuvering between clearly defined handsome white board fences? very nice, yes. Take that same dog out to the Midwest and turn it loose to collect a bunch of harem-scarem, UNdog-savvy stock, out of miles of thick brush… ehhhh, not so much. Exact same thing when you take most ‘Schutzhund’ trained dogs and put them into a real police scenario. Some would do an admirable job, but most… And so on and so forth. ;o)

The *point* here is focus. You can only do what you can do. No one person can be an expert at *everything.* And yet, here we have ‘working’ people sneering at ‘show’ people, and insisting their criteria are faulty, while being absolutely certain that their focus is the more ‘correct’ one. I disagree with you. I would no more use a sheep savvy dog with a nasty temperament in other areas, as breeding stock, than I would a beautiful show Champion who was afraid of sheep. Both are incorrect. But there are people who will use both or either, and will defend those choices from their own particular point of view. I can give them room to disagree with me without insisting they are wrong, or morally bankrupt for doing so. Might be nice if others could do the same. ;o)


Susi January 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

Fabulous points, Lenna.


Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill January 14, 2013 at 4:25 am

I read this and I do not really see much except a critique. Are there people who do what this man suggests, vis-a-vis ‘the red face test?’ Yeah, there are. And there are people who will try to take out the kneecaps of their probable opponents at the Olympics; and there are people who do things with show horses that I find morally questionable, and there are coaches who insist on telling injured youth to ‘tough it out’ and get back in the game with that torqued ankle, courting arthritis that kid will live with the rest of his life but hey, the coach will have a trophy to dust while the kid sits with IcyHot wraps on his ankles for the rest of his life, so the IMPORTANT thing was accomplished… This is true in ALL venues, in ALL walks of life. Some people will take things to extremes. If there is a trophy to be won, an award to be handed out, or money to be made, some will ‘do what it takes’ to acquire those atta-boys. Trying to use those few people as examples of what NOT to do is one thing. However, using them as indicative of NORMAL or RAMPANT behavior within their sports is unfair. I do know people who have dogs on the table for what I think are unreasonable lengths of time, and people who use grooming tricks that I think are flatly against the rules. And I wish that judges would call these people on it; if a few would do so instead of rewarding them because ‘everyone does it,’ (e.g. hairspray, chalk, dye jobs, etc) these behaviors might just STOP. But this does not ‘define’ the sport of dog showing. Those people are exceptions, not the rule. I have been showing dogs since I was a teen, and I am now in my mid 50’s; that is a pretty long time. I have seen the show environment change a lot in that time. At the same time, our society and the ways we view, and judge, other’s behavior has also changed. The author of the rebuttal makes some good points, but IMO there is too much judgment and moralizing, too much condemnation and generalizing, and an utter failure to even *try* to understand why most of the people who show, do so. I have many friends in the Fancy. We go to one another’s houses. The atmosphere, and behavior, at a show, under pressure and forced to compete with others who will NOT abide by the rules, does not define how these people view their animals, any more than the outburst of a parent at a piano recital is indicative that they think of their child as *only* a source of parental gratification and ego stroking.

Do dog people not ‘get’ how the public views them? Oh, yeah, we do. Too many have *exactly* the views set out above; that we are arrogant, stupid and out of touch. I submit that this is not the case. As for ‘lumping together’ H$U$, ASPCA and PeTA, that is also a convenient fiction. Maybe some do not know the differences, but many of us do. The point is, they ALL engage, in one way or another, to bash our way of life and try to control and/or end it. I think I find the comments that seem to chastise us for not getting in bed with H$U$ the most offensive. IMO this person does NOT understand what that organizations means for dog breeders, at all. Not because breeders have not made overtures; heck the AKC itself has tried to work together with them. What the ‘mandate’ of that organization is, historically, and what it has *become* in recent history, are two very different things. I am a farmer; I understand H$U$ from far more than simply the way they abuse and assault purebred dog breeders. If he really thinks they don’t ‘understand’ us, he has not been to very many AR seminars where they *teach* how to talk to breeders and farmers to get them to let you in their house or farm so you can turn them into the local ACAs with bogus charges of ‘abuse’ and ‘neglect,’ or others that teach how to infiltrate local shelters or city politics to be able to introduce AR legislation; or how to apply to work on a farm and instigate or even manufacture ‘abuse’ and film it fur use later… Are dog breeders naive? probably. But not in some of the ways he seems to think.


Norman Epstein January 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm

At the outset may I say I bear no ill will against the fancy per-se and feel most of that community is comprised of good folks that believe what they are doing and how they are doing it will be beneficial for their breed and through their ethos think their or a correct type will be insured and in fact because of some doing what it takes for that to occur, a correct type for their breed/line/litter is being safeguarded. Additionally the majority of that community (the fancy) believes, the results of selecting very close their standard will produce a dog that in all probability can do all that it’s breed description says it should be able to and if only trained could equal the abilities of the dogs of the same breed whose breeders have been selecting first for or work for many generations. Those that believe that are IMO victims of the law of unintended consequences, now to reply to Ms. Hanna-O’neill’s post.

You have accused me of making “gratuitous and insulting generalities about the purpose and selection of show dogs” and then in your next sentence leap to your own generalization, to wit: “Many breeds have remained dual purpose” Many? How many and which breeds? Which begs the question, what is your definition of dual purpose? Does your definition of this term mean just to compete, or compete with a very good possibility of being successful when competing against breeds whose breeders have been selecting first for work and temperament for many generations? And in an effort to better understand your position it would be helpful to give us your best guess as to the percentage of dual purpose examples as they apply to the whole of working pure breeds in existence today. IMO and I’m being kind this number may be as high 1 ½%. The below from Laura Sanborn speaks to this point.

“From a practical point of view, it’s irrelevant if, for example, 0.01% or 0.001% of AKC showline GSDs alive today is capable of doing demanding dual purpose police work. When abilities become that rare in a population, they are effectively but perhaps not theoretically gone”.

Even as late as 1980 the show and working GSD for the most part competed successfully in both the show ring and the schutzhund field. That is not happening today. The few show examples that do successfully compete today are considered throwbacks and because of their gene pool and or pedigree (all showine) they are seldom if ever selected as breeding partners and I am talking about German line examples. For the sake of this or any other discussion the following should be adhered to, “the occasional anecdote doesn’t prove the point”. One of the differences between you and me is I unlike you don’t consider your generalization to be insulting. I guess the working community by necessity requires tougher skin.

Every breeder be they show or working must early on if they want to be successful decide on their particular goal, because that goal will directly affect what gene pool they select from. We in the working community know it is damn hard even to maintain a useful behavior and even harder to improve it and that effort necessitates constantly selecting first for that working behavior or behaviors inclusive of working temperament. That process is not only a requirement it is critical if you want to improve the 98% of what you can’t see. Science and breeding history has for thousands of years proven that you get what you select for first and then if that wasn’t enough there is this upstart theory called evolution. If you don’t accept that premise we have little to talk about. Working behaviors/traits are not like keys on a hook in that they effectively stay in place until needed. They don’t they deteriorate not all at the same time or degree but NONE are immune to that fact. Additionally all of these working behaviors and reactions must work in the proper degree and in concert with each other. For the working community the golden middle it is in reality the golden muddle. Ask most any breeder of a useful working dog, useful being defined as having behaviors that are dependable in hostile environments on a long term time frame, if they would want to mix a watered down pedigree i.e., most or all in it are not working lines, in with what they have been working years to create, a useful dog. Or ask any show competitor if they would want to mix in working example of their breed knowing full well that they and all that’s behind that working selection look and act very different from what is now winning and they are producing, it being understood winning is the supposed goal of a show competitor. If you think breeding for what can be seen (show) is difficult try selecting for what can’t be (working) and what can’t been seen is 98% of what is valuable in a working dog/breed. You wrote “the fact is, many top winning ‘working’ sheep dogs are not much use in a real farm type situation’, to which I would suggest is another “gratuitous” generalization (g). That said I think we would both agree that a top winning working sheep dog is for a real farm situation is many times more useful to that farmer than any of the top winning show sheep dog that has been proven only or mainly in a show ring.

You wrote “The *point* here is focus. You can only do what you can do. No one person can be an expert at *everything.* And yet, here we have ‘working’ people sneering at ‘show’ people, and insisting their criteria are faulty, while being absolutely certain that their focus is the more ‘correct’ one”

Look it’s not about whether one community is an expert at *everything* or anything what it is about is what is the best method a breeder can use to increase his or her chances to produce a functional healthy litter and that’s my point. To veer away from a breeders intended goal what ever that goal may be, for any reason is to delay that breeder’s chance at success. Of course working breeders or for that matter any concerned breeder would sneer (your word) at any process that produces a less vital, a less athletic, a less healthy, a less biddable, a less functional, and a less vital dog. Science has told us just because we stop selecting doesn’t mean evolution has, because evolution never stops selecting. By choosing not to select something you or they are in fact deselecting it and by doing so making it less than it was and since the show community first selects for type, you do the math. And judging from the exaggerations we find in the show breeds of today only calls into focus the fact that that community finds no problem in shutting their eyes to the oft proven fact that ‘CORRECT form follows function’ which means for them function then must follow the form du-jour fashioned by what is popular at a given time via the eye of a judge and that is the reason that most all show breeds look and act different than their working counterpart. Given that why would any concerned person look upon a process that reduces the totality of a breed/dog as being constructive to it’s the healthy future. If you don’t select for overall health then you deselect for overall health. In time the result of that selection process will be health will deteriorate. That is a fact. Whether you want to accept it is up to you. You can’t test a dog to health and vitality, the only proven way to accurately validate a dogs health is to stress its components and the only way to do that is by having it function long term or in lieu of that be subjected to hard training in order to see how it holds up. For example a hip x-ray is just a focused picture of single hip joint or joints. It doesn’t gauge or even speak to the strength of the ligaments holding those joints together. Even for humans a doctor may think an EKG is OK for a giving a brief picture of one’s heart function but when after that EKG the doctors suspect a problem they demand a stress test. It should be the same for dogs but it is not. In the show community for the most part if it looks healthy it is healthy or healthy enough. If that wasn’t true then health validation would be a requirement to enter bench shows or a requirement to breed. For the AKC and most all of the fancy breeders this is not the case and is why we are now seeing a deterioration of heath and a shorter life span in our pure breeds

This from John Burchard Ph.D you know the one not to be taken seriously because he mainly knows only Salukis (g). “Fitness for function, in the case of the dogs I know, depends on literally hundreds of “internal” details, none of which are visible from outside the dog and none of which can be evaluated by a judge in the ring. You cannot tell by looking at a dog which mixture of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers are in its muscles, or how well the blood vessels supply those muscles, or how large the trachea is, or how efficiently the lungs transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide, or how large the heart and great vessels are, or whether the dog’s PCV (hematocrit) is adequate to its oxygen transport needs, or whether its eyes and brain are up to the task of pursuing a fleeing hare across rough ground at 40 mph without stepping into holes or colliding with obstacles, and so on almost ad infinitum. A judge is therefore through no fault of his/her own reduced to noting a few relevant external points (e.g. a dog whose shoulder blades are too close together has difficulty reaching down for the quarry – but most judges don’t know about that). Judges of necessity evaluate at best what they can actually see, which boils down to whether or not the dog offers a “pleasing” appearance while standing and while trotting around the ring. There is an apparently ineradicable belief that “good angulation” contributes to “leaping and galloping power” … although the good field dogs are almost invariably less “angulated”than the good show dogs. Judges find a smooth outline pleasing – with the result that dogs with well-defined musculature are scored down – so if you show as well as work your dogs, it takes some weeks to fatten them up into “show form” and get rid of those nasty bulgy muscles they develop when working. And that is still the ideal case. All too often the judge’s attention is directed less toward the dog as toward “the other end of the leash” and/or what is already known about a much advertised Champion”


Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill June 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Wow, Norman, stung much? I am impressed; you can look up stuff on Google! Well. I suppose (if I really cared) I could spend the same amount of time bashing back at you, that you obviously spent lovingly poring over the internet trying to find grist to refute my comments, but it really isn’t necessary. Your bias is all over this offering as it was the first one, anyone reading it is going to notice, and you are neither likely to hear a different POV nor do do anything if it is offered other than spend another day or so dredging up articles that you believe support you. I’m actually a little amused at some of your choices there, esp John Burchard’s comments, but whatever. You are free to have whatever ‘opinion’ of show dogs, and their owner’s selection criteria, that you like. (I did note that you toned it down a lot for your second offering, so at least some of what I said must have registered.) You are not free, however, to present those opinions as obvious ‘fact’ no matter how many google references you scrape up to support your contentions. At least, not without rebuttal. that is pretty much the long and short of it. By the way, as for those lovely SAR dogs on the floor at Westminster? You are welcome. I owned the mother of one of those FEMA dogs standing on that floor, so you see, I really do ‘walk the talk’ about working AND show criteria in my dogs. Oh, and Norman… find a valium salt lick. This can’t be good for your blood pressure. Just a suggestion.


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