Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Aftermath

The response to Monday's post took me a little by surprise and I felt I must acknowledge some of the feedback I've received, and maybe clarify one or two points made (although I do believe I made my point quite clear over there without having to go back over it.) I'm, let's say, a little exasperated (OK, I'm proper annoyed) about some of the messages I've received (including one threat to be taken to court) So, I'm going to clarify, and then I'm not going to mention the event any more - because, let's just say, you can only bang your head against a brick wall so many times before damaging your brain.

Firstly, I stand by every word I said -  most importantly:

"Even one dog suffering is one dog too many."

Secondly: It wasn't a sweeping statement on all dog exhibitors, which I made very clear - because there are many wonderful dog exhibitors, and I know a lot of them personally and I know they are dedicated to their dogs - but it was a statement about those who clearly do not understand what an absolute privilege it is to own a dog.

Question (asked by several, in varying ways): "Surely you could find something good about the show to write about?"

No. I couldn't. I could not, as a dog lover, come home and sit here and write about other aspects of the show that didn't show cruelty, by turning a blind eye to what I did see and skirt around the issues I witnessed. What sort of person does that make me if I did? Had I not noticed the things I did, then maybe I might have enjoyed the agility, the flyball, the cani-cross, the Friends for Life final, the Scrufts presentation, etc (all the things I wanted to enjoy) and not feel that I'd spent a shed load of money on ferry fares, petrol, parking, food and refreshments, just to go and see [some] dogs get mistreated - something that is abhorrent to me.

However:

My post was not a slating of the Kennel Club. I still hold the opinion that I held before I went, and that is that the KC are doing some good work, like: Investing in research, being more inclusive of non-pedigree dogs, working with rescues, wanting to see changes in legislation about puppy farms, the acquisition of dogs from pet shops, proper and kind training, curbing testing on dogs - there's quite a list. That opinion hasn't changed at all - but, they've some issues to deal with when it comes to their annual dog show - and, as it is indeed their annual dog show, they have to take certain responsibility for what happens there.

My experience showed me that the faults weren't necessarily those of the KC itself, but that of some exhibitors there. (please, please see my use of the word 'some' and remember that I'm saying 'some' and not 'all' - they are very different words with very different meanings, and I really do feel that this was clear in the post, but evidently 'some' didn't think so)  The KC cannot be held responsible for an individual's actions towards their dog...but, they can impose strict rules, not guidelines, rules - proper real maccoy 'You're going to be disqualified and kicked out of the event if you don't abide by them.' kind of rules that are actively enforced by recognisable animal welfare officials circulating the halls, to make it crystal clear to all exhibitors (even though many do not need those rules, because they are essentially good and decent people who respect their animals) what kind of handling, behaviour and attitude is expected during the show.

Some of what I witnessed was archaic, stuck-in-a-rutt rot that needs to be addressed and whizzed into the 21st Century to embrace modern dog ownership. There is a real want in this country for an event that is a true celebration of dogs, not some over-chewed, regurgitated, outdated practise from the late 1800s. An event where we can celebrate our dogs, in all their glory, without [some] garrotting them with cheese-wire-esque leads, yanking them around when they don't 'comply', putting them in tiny crates for hours on end, leaving them alone on benches confused and miserable, making them do things they don't want to do, grooming over and over - all for the glory of a sodding silver cup and a title.

And yes, the KC have a long way to go with breeding standards (which is in fact a joint effort of the judges themselves, the breeders and the KC - so let's not keep passing the buck. Everyone involved has their part to play to make absolutely sure healthy and happy dogs are produced. The onus is on the breeders to ensure they are breeding for health and not looks, and then judges reporting properly any concerns and taking the breed standards set out seriously, and the KC needs to be seen to properly enforce all of that and continually review breed standards to ensure all is well) but, as I said, I'm no expert on this and am not experienced enough or have any qualifications to comment much about it (I plan to work on that) - apart from saying that I don't want to see dogs with so much saggy skin that they get sores in the folds and can't put one leg in front of the other effectively because of said saggy skin. I want to see dogs who can see and who are not in pain because their lashes are growing into their eyeballs - and I want to see dogs who don't struggle walking because someone somewhere said that that 'this' kind of breeding is better than, you know, the one that allows the DOG TO WALK PROPERLY for the whole of their lives. I don't want to see dogs struggling to breathe because their noses have been bred away, or dogs struggling to run because their backs have been bred too long and their legs too short. I don't want to see them kicking up overly long ears, or not be able to give birth naturally, or clean themselves properly because they can't reach their bits - FOR GOODNESS SAKES - and - I don't want to be called a troll when I plead for these humane things, because, by jimminy, if that's trolling, if I'm (and others like me) are really being accused of trolling by asking for a bit of common decency and respect for these animals when it comes to their breeding, then there really is no hope for any of us is there?

And, one last thing - if one more person shouts "You're ruining our sport." I might just poke my own eyeballs out with my own eyelashes: Dog. Showing. Is. Not. A. Sport. It's a hobby (the Kennel Club even says so), it's a pastime that a community of people do together - and it's supposed to be fun for all who participate (and that includes the dogs too.) Let's make that happen, eh?

If you want to come and shout at me some more - I'm over on Facebook and Twitter - or of course you can leave a comment below.

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12 comments:

  1. Absolutely.

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  2. Way to go Cora ! Agree with every word and then some ,Court ? take you to court ,for what? Speaking your mind and writing down what you witnessed. Pfffft let the buggers try .Millions saw some of what you saw ,let them do their worst ! Indignant and angry is an understatement !!

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  3. Absolutely, agree. I am so sorry that someone threatened you! That's too bad. :(

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  4. Hahaha! Well said! And correct, DOG SHOWING IS NOT A SPORT.

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  5. Very well said. .. It's unbelievable that someone threatened you for speaking the truth. I've said it before crufts is only a dog show. . The health and wellbeing of the dog should come first not a trophy!

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  6. Excellent post. We get the same unbelievable push back when we write about the fat Labs they show at Westminster and Crufts...even that gets them going! There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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  7. We have showed at benched shows. They are not fun, for people or dogs which is why there are so few of them. Sometimes you have to leave a dog alone on the bench because you have to go to the bathroom (no dogs allowed), or change clothes for the ring, or get some food or water, or take another dog to the potty or you are showing other dogs in conformation or another exhibition (agility obedience). Whenever we have attended benched shows we try to bench with other people because there are crazies who will feed your dog crap treats or worse, and you really want to have eyes on the dogs. But there are times it is unavoidable and with benched shows the dogs HAVE to be on the bench during designated times. As bad as you think the exhibitors are, I can tell you lots and lots of stories of poorly behaved spectators. No one "side" is right.

    If my dog didn't like showing, I would still show the dog because I am the boss. Some dogs just take time to learn to enjoy showing. It is like anything..a training issue and if my dog doesn't like it then I am not just going to say oh well and stop. I am going to work on training my dog to act appropriately and maybe overcome their fear and anxiety. Now big shows like Crufts are not always the best place to start, but there are dogs that do great at smaller shows or outside shows but hate the giant shows. Our Storm was one of those and eventually we retired her but we overcome a lot of her fears along the way. Besides you are not going to know if your dog can do it until you try. I guess I do not agree that just because a dog is uncomfortable, it does not mean it is suffering.

    Small crates, yeah sometimes we use them. It is not like the dog is living in it and a day or two they are usually OK. When ever we have benched the dogs are mostly out but you need to give them some down time too. A benched show has its good points, but it is a lot for a dog. The exhibitors pay a lot of money to get their dogs to those big shows so they are not going to do something to jeopardize that dog.

    Show leads...ever felt them? They are pretty flimsy and jerk too hard they are liable to break. Not just the collar, but the lead itself. The main reason those are used is to control a dog's head. With dogs in close quarters at shows you must be able to control that dog and a buckle collar is too easy to slip out of. No one wants a dog fight (remember the dogs are intact) so if I have to jerk a head, I'm doing it.

    I think people refer to dog shows as sports because they are competitive with winners and losers. But more correctly it is an evaluation of a breeding dog against the breed standard. Sometimes judges get it right and sometimes not so much.

    If you ever have any questions about a benched show from the exhibitor's view point, feel free to email me. Address on my blog.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you - I really do appreciate you leaving your response - I have had many terrible private messages where people have said the most awful things - so you leaving this as a balanced response is wonderful.

      I still do disagree with dogs being left alone at benches. I do understand that often, when you do have to do this, there will be other exhibitors willing to take responsibility for your dog and that's really fine and not what my issue is. My issue is that when they are left with no supervision, with the possibility of thousands of people walking past them - free to touch, feed - do anything to them - this is where the issue arises. Whilst instances are few and far between, dogs left alone have been targetted - and, even though I have been called out for saying "even one dog suffering is one too many" and told that I'm living in an idealistic world - it is still something I stand by. Yes, it's idealistic - no, stopping the suffering of all dogs is not attainable, but I still stand by it.

      I also do not agree with your point about making a dog enjoy something that they don't want to do. We seem to have forgotten that dogs (and all animals) aren't here to boost our own egos. I believe they should be respected as animals. But this comes from me fundamentally disagreeing with showing anyway. Showing originated in order to produce the very best of each breed - and that was a blimmin' good idea - however, breed standards haven't been conformed to in many breeds (not all, but lots) and these dogs are so far away from "fit for purpose" it has cause a lot to suffer - and WE as humans have done that to them - it's not natural evolution - WE have done that - and that's not cricket.

      I disagree that it is OK to leave a dog in a crate too small for them for hours on end - and I disagree that discomfort isn't suffering.

      Yes, I have felt the leads - there were countless stalls selling them at the show - I felt lots of them, and I don't agree they would snap - especially on small breeds. I have no issue with leads being used, I have issues with leads being pulled so tightly that it holds a dog's head unnaturally and pinches into their skin for the sake of someone winning a title (the dog doesn't care about winning titles, it is the people who care)

      I understand why it might be referred to as a sport - however, it is not a sport. I accept that activities such as agility, cani-cross, flyball, etc could be classed as sports - but showing isn't one.

      I really really appreciate you giving your point of view - and I would very much like to learn about benched shows from an exhibitors point of view and will get in touch. Thank you.

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  8. Well said article, concise and honest and truthful. You write of your experiences with the passion of a person who truly loves animals....no bad thing at all.
    I enjoy your blogs and though some of what you write is uncomfortable reading...it is uncomfortable because you point out real issues and if some of those issues get explained as in the above post, that too is a good thing. I love that you don't police your replies but leave them for us to read and make our own minds up, just as you did about your experiences at Crufts...its your truth and your not afraid to voice it via your blogs...and by the very way you rescue animals, look after your own, help others and are actively involved in rescue situations which I know personally have cost you a great deal in finance, time and compassion. I hope you continue to write your truth and as for the threat from a reply to your previous blog, what a rotten thing to do. You are an amazing blogger and I for one love your truths.

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  9. Your response is spot on. When will human beings realise the the dogs couldn't care less whether they are being shown in a huge affair as Crufts, or running along a beach or park, rolling in the sand or mud. As long as they are treated kindly and are loved - is ALL THAT MATTERS! A loving dog will do whatever it can for it's human - what does the human do - not in all but only some? They sometimes can be cruel, for their own gain. Well done on this blog. It shows true grit to your beliefs and bravery to speak out.

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  10. where is the LIKE button for this post?!!

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