WHAT IS EXACTLY OUR FINAL DESTINATION?
By Ante Lucin
Published in Best in Show Annual 2017
LINK for ONLINE
More than ever in the last few months I have been asking myself where our sport is going, what is happening with it and where does it want to arrive. More and more I am getting depressed by seeing confusing things, reading Facebook comments, watching mediocre dogs winning, and the quality of dogs, judges and handlers going dramatically down. I talk regularly to my friends about it and two things are quite clear to me. When talking to the people who have been in the sport already for 20 or more years they keep on reminiscing about the good old times. When talking to the young generations, I feel there is nothing more that can be done to prove to them that things are not as they see them now.
When I was young (or younger) I travelled the world to see dogs. I was not interested in the cities, culture, fancy dinners. I only wanted to watch dogs; to talk to the famous handlers, judges and breeders. To learn. I still remember all the Crufts, Westminster and Collare d’Oro videos, I was dying to receive them. I used to see them over and over again. There were no Facebook, live streams and all the wonders of the modern technology like we have now. But still I knew all the famous dogs and all the famous dog people. Judges, breeders and handlers by their names and by their fame which was exclusively earned by their honest work and knowledge. Today it seems that nobody wants to learn. Nobody is interested in DOGS. Everyone keeps on worrying if he is a friend on Facebook of the judge who will judge next important show, which handler is good for which judge, which dog is flashy enough for junior handling, which judge is gay and which is straight. Many judges who are judging every weekend are not famous breeders. Some of them have never owned a top quality dog. Some of them never have picked up shit, delivered puppies, bathed dogs or driven all night to hear someone’s opinion. Then of course, many of these judges do not have the respect for the exhibitors and their work.
But also there are far too many exhibitors, who think they are the best and they know the best. They happily announce (either verbally to their friends who have also had a bad day, or on Facebook when they get home) that the judges are stupid, all the handlers are corrupt and the only reason why they are not winning is because the whole world is against them because they are so good in everything they do. Nowadays everything is possible. We are not allowed to criticise, to ask or to question the placements. Still I feel the people that are most trashed on Facebook are the honest people.
When I was younger judges were famous because of the dogs they had bred and/or shown and because of being honest, kind and ready to share their knowledge with the exhibitors. Breeders were famous for the dogs they bred and showed. Handlers were famous for the quality of the dogs they showed and the conditions in which they were presented and the way they were looked after, not the numbers of groups or Bests in Show they had won. So, what is my point? If you read the comments it looks like everyone is disappointed in the current situation in the dog world; the beginners because they think they can’t win because of the famous handlers, some judges because they can’t understand why always the same faces are judging the big shows, experienced exhibitors because they see a lot of corruption and huge decrease in the quality of judging and dogs exhibited. Everyone is disappointed. And no one is ready to do anything because if you start to do something immediately there is a drama.
If you have noticed I didn’t write any articles last year for any magazines as I thought that I will not be able to talk about the moon and the stars when I think everything is literally going to hell. I have been following many topics during the year – tragedies in which two handlers lost a big number of dogs, hundreds of videos of exhibitors treating badly the dogs inside and outside of the rings, different videos of judges doing all kind of strange things. There was a drama almost every week. And people have completely lost their minds. There is no culture of conversation, no one wants to talk about arguments, and everyone thinks others should think how they think. I have never felt as disenchanted with the dog world and with dog people as I was last year.
I have always been a person who was on the side of justice. I never wanted to be a God or the one who will say what is wrong or right. I think there are always institutions and people who have gone to schools to decide on different matters. I am not the one to say this is correct or this is not. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my opinion. But I can also survive if someone proves me my opinion is wrong.
We have lost a lot of important dog people last year. But we still didn’t learn anything. We still don’t understand life is a strange thing. One day you are here, the next you are gone. Now suddenly everyone is a bigger dog lover than the other one, better breeder than the other one, better judge than the other one. People give comments and opinions on everything. They are evil, bad, they want to hurt, they revenge, and they want to destroy other people. I have not been raised like that. I was raised to listen, to exchange opinions, to learn the facts before I speak. I am not crucifying anyone to feel important. I have made mistakes, I am not an angel. I learned that tragedies can happen. I learned to be sorry for lost lives. I learned to be sorry for the pain people are feeling for different reasons. I have never been happy because something bad happened to someone I don’t like or who has caused me pain.
I am thinking who are young people who are going to be mentors and legends like some people we lost were to us? I am thinking why people enjoy seeing other people suffering? I can’t understand why the people attack always the ones who are weak, why they never want to learn the facts, support and help. I have read so many comments about the tragedy that happened in Italy last year. I have seen old friends turning their backs on each other because one didn’t unfriend another one on Facebook. I have seen people asking to forbid the summer shows, to forbid the handlers, to punish the judges who are putting up the dogs shown by certain people but in the same time saying it is sad that judges are putting up the dogs only because they are shown by some people. But I have seen only a few trying to understand what happened and really trying to ensure that something like that never happens again. People were writing rules with no sense, speaking badly about all the handlers and judges, show organizers and so on. Why? Why do we always need to be our own worst enemies? I saw a week ago a video of a famous Russian breeder being harsh with her own dog outside of the ring. I don’t know what happened before, I don’t know if the video was true, or was it case of photos and videos being extremely well prepared specifically to crucify someone. I am against everything that can hurt the dogs. But can I find an excuse for the people who without knowing the facts write comments like “ hope she will get cancer” under the video – no, I can’t.
The never ending story with the WDS in China was another hot topic, again with people taking sides and being rude without knowing the facts. I am not into politics and I didn’t vote for or against the WDS in China. I am sure there is not ONE dog person in the world who can find an excuse for the tradition of killing the dogs in China. I am sure there is not ONE dog person who would not do everything he can to stop this. Some people think they should boycott China until this is solved – fine with me. Some people think they should go to China, show their dogs there and judge and support the Chinese KC in its fight to stop this tradition – fine with me. I have seen some nasty comments on both sides and that just proves how close minded the world is.
And when I see all this, than I am not surprised that almost every institution in every country slowly slowly is bringing out the laws that will at the end have only one result – the complete ban on breeding purebred dogs and a ban on dog shows. And I am one of these who is not blaming anyone for this but ourselves – the dog people who pretend to love our dogs and our sport so much but are never prepared to fight for it. Instead it seems that we are only too happy to give ammunition to the animal rights and anti-purebred people with which they can beat us. In general the sad truth is that we are not able to be united even in the most unimportant matters. I just got the Dog World annual and I am reading all the texts about different kinds of new laws for the breeders and exhibitors that are being accepted in different countries. It started with cropping and docking, than they made the list of dangerous breeds, of unhealthy breeds. Than we need to show the dogs on the loose lead, than we cannot use any products, sprays, chalks, driers, table arms, chain collars, double handling, food in the ring… No puppy pens or fences, no changing clothes at the shows, no crackers, no elastics, no this, no that.
I am asking myself every weekend when going to the shows the same question – am I a bad handler because I bath and dry my dogs? Am I a bad breeder because I put puppy collars on my puppies? Am I a bad person because I spray the coat of my dogs, because I iron their hair? Am I a torturer of animals because I use table arms and chain collars? Am I the worst criminal in the world when every country is only thinking what else could forbid me to bring to the show my purebred show dog? And I know the answer. No, I am not. I am a dog lover from the bottom of the heart. My dogs live a good life, my dogs are happy, my dogs eat the best food, my dogs are regularly bathed and clean, my dogs run in the garden all day and play, my dogs are healthy, my puppies have great temperaments and they make their new owners happy. I am proud of who I am, I am proud of my work, I am proud of my dogs, I am proud of my friends. And for once I am sure we need to do something to stop being trashed by other people who don’t understand anything about our sport.
Because of the new campaign in which famous people and celebrities are happy to be photographed with puppies from a shelter and state that every purebred dog bought mean one dog is killed in the shelter, people are afraid to buy purebred dogs from respected and dedicated breeders. And it seems that no one is able to explain why this is not true and why any animal loving organizations should be fighting against us! The vast majority of breeders of purebred dogs are firstly dog lovers. People who bring the dogs to the show take better care of them than 90 % of other dog owners. Dogs from serious breeders never end up on the streets or in the shelters; we take care of our puppies since they were born till they die. We do not sell sick puppies; we do not give false pedigrees and fake pet passports. We should be the ones to be thanked and praised, not the ones to be blamed for everything. There is not too much time left. Many things will never be as they were just because we were thinking we need always to keep our heads down; because we thought if we give one thing to the animal rights fanatics they will not ask for another. If we don’t react now it will be too late. Am I one of the few who understand this?
I read a few hours ago a very interesting text by Sheila Atter called “The old days – good or bad?” And I would like to end up my article with her sentences: ‘There have always been aspects of the dog game that we should not be very proud about, but it is up to us to make sure that it will still be possible, in another 20 years or so, for someone to re-write this article. At the moment it sometimes seems that we are very close to pressing the self-destruct button.’