“IT’S OFFICIAL, I’M A BAD BREEDER”, declares Canine Alliance Chairman Howard Ogden.
But so are YOU and YOU and YOU . . .
Sure, some wag in Griffons will tell you “we’ve been saying that for years” and there was the time some bar steward sent the RSPCA round (who declared they had obviously been sent to the wrong address), but it still stung a bit to be told it in person by the headmaster of the ABS, Bill Lambert, at the recent KC roadshow in Ledbury.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the man. I can respect, and empathise, with anyone who has dedicated his life in dogs to a chosen breed (Bull Terrier) and achieved so much to that breeds’ benefit as well as helping others along the way. I admire his passion and enthusiasm behind this pet project of his (ABS) but it doesn’t follow that I agree with him. I don’t. That’s why I’m a member of the CA!
Ironically, I crept onto the back row of the laid out seating just as I had that night the CA was formed. Always well intentioned me. Always last minute. I think it has something to do with being single, working and still actually breeding dogs (and with a litter) so that all has to be sorted to MY satisfaction before I can get out of the door. Invariably there is always something to go back and double check.
On this occasion I was aware I would be seen as representing the Alliance, as opposed to simply myself, and had newly come across an article by Bill that had disturbed me enough to ensure I could quote it (and as published in DW on 12/9/14):
“We call upon all responsible breeders to join the scheme
so that puppy buyers can make the vital distinction between
good and bad breeders . . exposing those who fail to adopt
even the basic principles of responsible breeding and leaving
them nowhere to hide”
The stage managed meeting with its pre-vetted questions (totally contrary to its Question Time BBC namesake) meant my only hope of engaging was to bide my time for an “in” with some follow up comment and the Chairman, Steve Dean, was courteous to allow this on 2 or 3 occasions.
So, having read out the above, I suggested that many of the established breeders present (there being more than a smattering of such) who were non-scheme members would be offended either to be classed as “bad” or “irresponsible” having devoted their lives to the betterment of their breeds. The real response came as the meeting closed and Bill appeared beside me on that back row. He stated in the clearest terms that I was indeed “bad” and there was no other appropriate description as long as I remained on the outside. It was black and white. Either you are in ABS or not. That makes you either “good” or “bad”, being subject to its regulation or not.
Nice isn’t it? Lumped together with puppy farmer and designer breed merchant alike. My entire life revolves around the unsocial hours of work and my dogs. They live as a family with their own pecking order with me as “top dog.” No expense is spared. My entire Co-Op “shop” of 2 packs of best mince for £7, 3 cartons of full fat goats’ milk and quilted kitchen roll is for the pups and to complement my “waste removal” skills that I have honed to perfection. The vet gets £150 every single month “in case”. The separate dogs’ washing machine is constantly spinning. I mop through twice daily. The flow of dog chews/toys is constant. We walk through the fields and ford the stream. Matings are planned these days more with specific health awareness, as well as type, in mind. Tens of thousands has been invested in developing my breed with imports/entries/tragedies/travel x 45yrs. Tons of poo have been shovelled and disposed of. I kept handwritten records of the details of each litter from birth to sale till I got to Z.
I have established and taught many others from scratch in an ongoing attempt to maintain the modern world’s dwindling interest in graft and canine servitude when it prefers instant success and Candy Crush! That world demands it has a “life”. Mine remains on hold!
But I am hardly unique. So many of YOU will be the same! I am blowed if I will bend the knee for the sake of convenient conformity and to satisfy some political notion of correctness.
The Canine Alliance thankfully embraces many different shades of opinion and some are in and some out of the scheme. It suits some and that’s great. It’s called freedom of choice. But classifying the likes of me as to be routed till I cannot “hide”, because I am “bad”, is rather different. We at the Canine Alliance will support any grass roots breeder doing their level best to maintain a standard of canine husbandry that has stood the test of time for them and requires no interference on the misguided precept that one “fix” suits all.
Howard Ogden, Chair – Canine Alliance, November 2014