Column 26.03.2012



“Coming events cast their shadow before”

Very apt indeed for there were a good few shadows cast before Crufts but no one took any notice of them.  However the events at Crufts have indeed proved the long shadows right.  Now the pressing question is, will judges accept engagements in these so called vulnerable breeds? You cannot blame them if they refuse if the vet on the day is going to have the last word. No judge at championship level is going to place a dog, let alone give it best of breed if there is something obviously wrong with it, shadows should have been heeded.  As I was sitting down to write this a phone call informed me of the first resignation from the KC committee and the first judge from one of the breeds in question had also pulled out of their engagement, it is to be wondered if anyone will take it on and risk being humiliated by a vet who may know little of whatever breed it is. At least the whole concern has given a number of people something to write to the dog papers about and the editors who at times must get fed up with the same old thing must be rubbing their hands in satisfaction, as the whole thing looks like going on for some time. It remains to be seen if this ill thought out veterinary check is to be implemented at the rest of this year’s championship shows as it stated in their schedule or dropped altogether, let us hope it is the latter.

I had a chuckle at Sez Les’s column when he wrote about going to fetch something from another room and when getting there forgetting what it was! Join the club Les, I do this every day, though as he says when we oldies ( although he is not nearly as old as I am) forget daily things and yet can remember so clearly things that happened in our youth and maturing years. Yes, I remember clearly the euphoria when my dog won his and my first CC and BOB and this was at Crufts in 1951! Despite only a handful of the breed entered on the day, the buzz was something special, and do you know everyone was so kind, even those with beaten dogs, coming up to congratulate me and pat the dog. Other people I knew also appeared and while I was off getting a reviving cup of tea Joe Braddon left a jokey note in the rack. I fear this does not often happen today if my spy’s stories are correct.  The judge of the day was William (Bill) East, a head gamekeeper on a famous estate and he was a great judge of all gundog breeds of the time, judging them as breeds bred to do a specific job, in other words ‘fit for function’, and his crit on my dog said he looked a worker.  Well he did win 3 CC’s and qualified at a Field Trial and became a champion, and those are memories that have stayed with me all these 60 years. I also remember much later on a judge who had put my dog up and had quite a few CC’s gave me second in open and saying to me ‘he looks a bit short on the leg’ I assured him the dog had not shrunk and he replied ‘well perhaps he was standing in a hole!’ well it was an outdoor show but the ground there is very even! Which brings me to show reports or critiques although some judges are so afraid to actually criticise the dog that they use one size fits all method, with every dog placed being accorded almost the same crit. One wonders if all the entry was so correct how did he/she arrive at the placings. The crit should be a description of the dog and ‘good head, moved well’ is pretty puerile and means nothing. Some crits look as if they had been written with the standard as a crib! A good few judges actually do not like writing crits , but the owners of placed dogs love to see their dogs name in print and hopefully a fulsome write up so as long as this need persists I am afraid judges are stuck with the job. Some experienced judges these days actually come bearing a laptop to put on their table and write the crits between classes.

Personally I liked a day to think about my placed dogs and read my notes before I sat down to write.  It is all much easier now, another memory is of the days when all four placings had to have a crit, and at the time when the judge was not very handy with the pen a ringside reporter did the write ups. I served in this capacity on a number of occasions and it was pretty nerve wracking! Now although we have all this modern technology only the first placing is required at open shows and only two at championship shows except Crufts were three placings are supposed to get a crit, but if you look through the breed write ups you will find this does not always happen. Exhibitors get very stressed if a report on a show where their dog or dogs have won does not appear in the dog papers soon after the show.  This is due to several reasons one that the judge is late sending it in and most likely there are so many reports to be fitted in space is a problem, but be patient, if sent in they all get printed in time.