Anyone Smell The Caffeine Yet?

Can you smell the coffee, yet?

There can be no doubt that 2013 was certainly a year of mixed emotions, with many highs, but equally many lows in the world of dogs.  The Canine Alliance finally said farewell to its Steering Committee with the election of a new group to lead the organisation forward.   Some of the old team remained and we welcomed some new faces to carry on the task of providing a genuine organisation to represent the grass roots of “our hobby”.

The last month of 2013 saw a big high as UK owned and bred Ch Afterglow Maverick Sabre took BIS at the World Challenge in Orlando, but barely had the applause from that settled down, before we heard of yet another case of the (alleged) “Our Kennel Club” doing its ‘Shoot Itself in The Foot’ routine, a performance it has sadly perfected over recent years.  This prompted the Canine Alliance to question if some in the hierarchy in Charges Street really understand the true depth of the damage that is being done to “our hobby”? Probably not – far too much to do wondering what how to spend its £12 million Christmas windfall.  Investing to secure the future of “our hobby” and pedigree dogs would be a start!

With canine Societies – at all levels – seeing falling entries and reduced revenue, more and more has to be done to attract people to participate in “our hobby”.  So when the Dogue de Bordeaux failed the ill thought out veterinary tests at LKA last month, it was time for the Canine Alliance to rhetorically ask the Chair of “Our Kennel Club”:

“Can’t smell the coffee yet, Steve? Then wake up!!”

After what had seemed to be a show season with some common sense creeping in (and for which the Canine Alliance must take credit as “Our Kennel Club” had adopted a number of the proposals that the CA had been championing), the voice of Oliver Hardy could almost be heard in the  corridors of W1J 8AB eerily pronouncing: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”.  It was just another example of what has become the Kennel Club’s – sorry, “Our Kennel Club’s” – proud tradition of embarrassing gaffes.  Embarrassing not only in the manner of the execution, but also in terms of its end result.  Yes, this time it was the turn of the Dogue de Bordeaux to be excluded from the Group Competition at LKA on the nod of a Veterinary Surgeon. Anyone getting the aroma of coffee, yet?

What about the judges of these so called ‘high profile’ breeds – many of the judges themselves being high profile with vast experience – who are apparently inept at spotting “obvious” defects?   How many more such are to be added to the growing list in 2014… and how grateful must those who are lower down the pecking order for judging appointments be that it is the most senior & respected judges who have so fallen from grace … not!!

You only have to look at the pictures of this beautifully unexaggerated example of the breed and look into his “to die for” eyes.  You can only marvel at the attention to Breed Watch …. be impressed at the generations of selective breeding that must have gone before to produce such a specimen. This is right up your street, Mr Dean.  Nostrils twitching, yet?

So who is right? All those that have assessed this dog hitherto and subsequently?   Or the Ladies Kennel Association vet who could not even demonstrate his point of failure to the handler when invited to do so!  And why not invite the judge of the day to attend the vet check so that they may benefit from the vet’s decision and experience?

And what will “Our Kennel Club” do about it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  They will hide their inept & unfair system in the Christmas wrapping of the LKA by passing the buck firmly over to them and their vet.  Who will consider whether their guidelines were carried out? Not Steve Dean (Veterinary Surgeon, as well as “Our KC” boss to the uninitiated) nor anyone at his behest, beyond instructions to trot out the usual “pass the buck” political fudge and a few platitudes to keep the unspeakable masses of the dog world in their place.

We are confident that the good ladies of the LKA will certainly carry out a review, for they put the dog exhibitor first every time. They will chide themselves not only for (a) the queue at the vet, (b) the supply of water delay, but also for (c) the unnecessary insistence of accompanying the wannabe BOB to the vet immediately on the completion of judging.  Some irony here….no health and welfare considerations for this dog…. give him a break …. give the dog a bone …. give him time to chill out.

There is NO requirement for the judge’s BOB to immediately be presented for assessment by the Vet and at LKA there was a delay at the Check in point at any event. We understand it was only between 12.30pm -13.30pm, after all.  We know that the dog can be presented at ANY time that still allows for him to be processed in time for the Group.  There were hours to kill and he should have been sent away for exercise, toilet relief, a doze on his bench; what should not happen is that he be confined to some ante-room without water where he can become distressed through stress & dehydration as if a prisoner in a Gulag Archipelago. The smell of caffeine is getting stronger!

And what of the vet?  Will anyone challenge the diagnosis made, not least in the light of the contrary, professional, expert opinion just 48 hours later?  Will he, can he or should he be taken to one side for a discussion or a pep talk?   Why is there no right of appeal?

Why is there no facility for a vet to re-examine a couple of hours later? A second opinion pre-Group? Steve will bang on about it being down to that vet’s opinion at that moment that could change 10 minutes before or after as the eye condition supposedly changes. “Diamond eye” is not inflammation. It is a state of being.

The previously recorded vet check failure for this breed was at Midland Counties in 2012. The vet had the same name. Co-incidence?  When we enter – rather, when we PAY to enter – a dog show (it is a contract after all), we know the venue, we know the classes and we know the name of the judge.  Is the name of the Vet who will be carrying out the vet checks published?  Perhaps their track record should be published in the schedules? They have nothing to hide and will benefit from what would, in effect, be free advertising for the professional services.

So, we say once again, “wake up and smell the coffee, Steve”.  You are running down these dedicated breeders, working tirelessly to improve their HPBs, through intransigence and a denial of a level playing field.  We want to ensure a fair, just system with an end result of which we could all be proud rather than hang our heads in shame!  No doubt a lecture on the effectiveness of the Assured Breeder scheme will follow.

Or perhaps, Steve, you are a tea drinker and we should look for a new hobby.

HO / TT