This column first appeared in Dog World, July 2014:
Well the Canine Alliance has sent out a very clear SOS – Save our Shows – message to our members in recent months, one that was timely given our invitation to make a presentation to Keith Young’s Working Party at the end of May.
In our column last month, we listed the challenges facing our hobby and some of our members’ suggestions to help stem the decline in shows which seems to be all too common. The comments we put forward were duly noted and it seemed that many of our ideas were in line with the thinking of the Working Party, who even wondered if we had ‘bugged’ Clarges Street as their ideas seemed so in accordance with our own. We haven’t, by the way!
We look forward to hearing the results of the Working Party’s deliberations which we understand are due to be carried out over … you guessed it, three years! Three years!
So, nearly all of our proposals were treated in a positive manner, apart from the grading system of judging which we are told is not on the horizon. We will wait to see what develops, but it is very much a case of watch this space.
Meanwhile, in the latest edition of the KC Journal, the unilaterally introduced replacement for the good old Kennel Gazette, the KC chairman refers to ‘Your Kennel Club’ and dismisses those who dare to have criticised the KC. Not only that, this year’s KC AGM sparked the start (sic) of a debate to open up the KC to a wider membership base. Hang on! Think we might have heard a bit more about that before, though we congratulate those who were courageous enough to promote the propositions to broaden the membership. No matter how dismissive some may be, a wider membership is the only way forward for the KC, but who knows how long it will take (we suspect that the three year rule will not apply in this instance).
Of course, it was ‘Your Kennel Club’ that consulted so widely about getting rid of the Kennel Gazette and replacing it with the now, much loved KC Journal. Even the members of ‘Your Kennel Club’ felt it necessary to overturn that decision. Again, this was hotly contested at the AGM but the members present decided to reinstate the Gazette. And, accordingly, our very own Ron Stewart who spoke during the debate has been asked to participate in a committee to review the future format of the Gazette.
Hang on, another moment! Did the AGM not vote to reinstate the Gazette? So why do we need to go through yet more deliberations … or will these deliberations take, say, three years? Maybe in three years’ time, all of us ordinary people will have forgotten about the decision to reintroduce the Gazette. It is surely not because of a shortage of funds – the KC must be doing reasonably well in comparison to many businesses at the moment. So why not just go ahead and do what the membership of ‘Your Kennel Club’ decided? Go on, Clarges Street, you can do it, you know you can!
In the meantime, the complaints seem to keep coming and, in spite of what we read in the Journal, we will continue to raise these with the KC in the hope that the pleas of many of us ordinary exhibitors, breeders and supporters of our hobby will be listened to. The very fact that the same issues seem to be raised time and time again is something that should worry Clarges Street, and not be summarily dismissed as being nonsense.
And so what about a brief list of some of these complaints, just in case they have been consigned to Room 101 in Clarges Street. Firstly, the daft veterinary checks which should not have been introduced in the first place – no one has yet given any clear explanation of what benefit they have brought to our hobby. They do little other than irritate those in the high profile breeds who are affected by them. We have even had one of our members – a young member, by the way … just the type the KC are trying to encourage … saying that she was giving up dog showing altogether because of the vet tests taking all the fun and enjoyment away from the hobby. We take our hats off to Mrs Charlesworth Ironside who decided not to surrender to the vet test with her best of breed Clumber Spaniel in protest at what she has always called a silly and unnecessary procedure. Wonder if there was three years of deliberation about introducing these vet tests in the first place?
There seems to be confusion among all parties as to what the criteria for the tests includes and should include. One of our members tells us that the vet test included sniffing anal glands. Whatever takes your fancy, but not sure this is included in conformation sessions.
An oft quoted issue we hear from our members is that of ‘face judging’, ie judging he or she on the end of the lead, not the dog and judges being able to accept CC entries every year. That is one sure fire way to kill the entries in some breeds.
The Assured Breeder Scheme, of course, continues to cause a great deal of debate. We have always argued that – in principle – it is a great idea; it is how it works in practice that we are concerned about. In the land of Clarges Street, of course, all is tickety boo and nothing could possibly be wrong with it.
Open membership of ‘Your Kennel Club’ – well, it is a thing we hear on so many occasions. People in our hobby want to participate in the governance and should be encouraged to do so. We do not intend to repeat the arguments put forward at the KC AGM … you can, no doubt, read those in the Gazette or the Journal.
And these are just snapshots of the issues that we hear about and which we will continue to raise.
Not so very long ago, we made an impassioned plea for some to “Wake up and smell the coffee”. Sadly, after three years, we guess the aroma will probably have faded somewhat. Perhaps a change of brew is required.