Column 17 July 2011
It has been quite a social time lately as several friends have visited and we have had much discussion about the current dog scene. One visitor who has been many years in dogs was saying how things have changed and how the accent now seems to be on the people and not on the dogs and another agreed and said that having attended several AGM’s this year she found the same thing, the one AGM she went to hardly mentioned the breed at all. Another friend commented on my mention of poor entries at open shows and wondered how up and coming judges could learn anything when only a few dogs where there to be judged, sometimes as few as one per class. Another wondered if that was the fault of the classification, but the first said two shows she had been to recently show marked decreases in numbers of breeds that usually brought in a good entry such as Border Collies, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Staffies. The choice of judge all agreed played quite a part, but people have to start somewhere and if you do not support them when they start their judging career you may be ignoring the fact that some can and do make a success of judging. The cost of fuel was one thing to blame but another agreed with me that people coming into showing now have only one idea in their heads and that is to qualify for Crufts so start off straight away entering at championship shows. This led to an interesting discussion on whether dogs should first have to qualify for entry to all championship shows. This might solve some of the problems although entries at championship shows might suffer until the scheme had been running for a couple of years, but it could be the saviour of open shows and indeed some canine societies. There were several ideas for qualifying and many other suggestions and the coffee time was welcome!
When a dog gets loose out on exercise or at a show have you noticed how panicky the people are when trying to catch it? The last thing one should do is to chase it, but this is the reaction for most would be helpers. Being chased usually by strangers just scares the dog and it runs further and faster. I know people mean to be helpful but it is the wrong approach. If the owners will stand still and then walk slowly back to their vehicle or to the spot from which the dog escaped and wait, the dog will usually return, although there might be quite a wait. The trouble is that the people in another part of the show see the panicky dog and want to help by trying to catch it, but dogs move faster than people. There is only a modicum of animal sense these days as the generations move further away from their country roots.
I was unable to go to the annual open show of the Southern Society for the Irish Red and White Setters which was held on a bright sunny day at Chievely. I am told it was as always very successful and enjoyable and had an excellent entry of 50 dogs for the judges Mrs Lynda Davis (breed) and Miss Jean Lanning (Stakes and colour) BIS went to Mrs Waltson’s home bred Gallybobs Gold Standard. I am told the refreshments as usual at this show were delicious! Funny how some show committees have failed to grasp the importance of good catering.
I hope to meet up with my friends at National Gundog at Malvern on August 6th as Secretary Chris Bexon has kindly sent me a pass. I have been going in one way or another, exhibitor, judge and now just a good day out with the dogs and my friends at NGA since it got going. The original idea was that to make it truly ‘national’ it should be held in a different venue every year. When it started this was more or less possible though a bit of a headache for the host club as each year a different gundog club hosts the show. I went to shows at Harrogate, Newark and Stafford and so on, and it has always been a good show and rather the pinnacle of the gundog lovers year. It was hoped to move the show around the country each year, but after a few years this proved impractical, as there were not enough venues big enough to hold the show as its popularity soared and cost also came into the equation. The show is still hosted each year by one of the gundog clubs and the whole thing is now happily based on Three Counties showground at Malvern. It is one of the musts for all gundog folk so all being well I shall be tootling around on Elsie, my central vision is now very poor so if I don’t see you do come up and say who you are! This getting old is a bore! Many thanks to Sheila Appleby the secretary for the Sussex Spaniel Association for sending me a copy of the news and views for summer 2011. Packed full of interest and good photographs, the most interesting was the fact that 68 puppies were registered last year which is great news for a breed that was at one time seriously endangered owing to the cessation of breeding and showing during the Second World War. Some of you may remember the litter of six bitches that did much to save the breed and featured on ‘Blue Peter’. I am sure Peter Purves remembers this. I was sorry to miss the breed championship show again but now I do not drive I am reliant on one of my good friends being available to chauffeur me. I really will try next year.
There is now so much information about that there is no need for anyone not to know what is going on in dogs. It is just a memory now that during the war newsprint was in short supply, our copies of Our Dogs were restricted to smaller numbers than were actually required, and so everyone was lucky to get a copy. We always passed it on to someone who could not get one and they in turn passed it on again, it got a bit tattered in transit but no one cared as any copy of their favourite dog paper was welcome in any condition. Think about this when you bundle up the current copies for recycling!
The rain I welcomed last week was half a day and out came the sun again, so hopefully none of the outdoor shows suffered too much.