What I have seen

The vacation is over and the daily grind for the meat to feed the dogs has started again. What a vacation, from Czech to a couple of Finnish lure-coursing events to rest and relaxation. The best of it has been the people, the people and the dogs. Not necessarily in this order, but anyhow, these things.

And the weather wasn’t bad, either: for the last four weeks I had socks in my feet only twice, the second time being the last weeks event in which I was working.

What have I seen during the time? A lot. A lot of things that have opened my eyes to so many new things in this wonderfull hobby with the dogs. How the organisation works behind the scenes, how little the competitors really know of what is going on and how uninterested the dogs are of all of this. My humble opinion is that each dog owner who participates in a lure-coursing event should be obliged to participate in some as work force: the learning experience is immense!

And if you have worked in a lure-coursing event, you must do the same in a racing event. The two worlds share similarities, but are completely different.

But this is not what I started to write about.

I started to write about something that stirred in my mind in Czech Republic and was brought out to my conscious mind after reading this great post of the Retrieverman. In a way, I have the same feeling about dog shows as he does: the shows are a big business and have lost their original meaning along the years, granting people prestige and feeling of achievement for their dog’s ability to show itself in the ring (in some cases I have witnessed how the owner has beaten the dog with a leash to stand correctly before showing the dog…). It has become obvious to me in several discussions and occasions, that in several cases the show judges do not even understand the original job or activity the dog breed has been created for. (This is in a sense a gross exaggeration, but please bear with me.)

This has come the most obvious in what I heard happening in Germany, where some show judges have stated out loud that a working class Irish Wolfhound will never get a result above very good (excellent being the next – and highest – result and needed for certificates). Come again? Irish wolfhound has been originally a hunting dog, a sighthound, used for hunting big game and guarding, and now the current working class dogs -which prove their abilities in the lure-coursing- are rated to be such that they don’t comply with the breed standard?

Granted, like Retrieverman stated in another fine post of his, that Irish Wolfhound was more or less recreated to the ideal of one man in the late 19th century. But still, the ideal of big game hunting big dog was there, and still the Irish Wolfhound is considered to be a sighthound, not a mastiff or something else.

Which leads me to the other side of the board. In the recent discussions I’ve had with different breed owners in the events I’ve been working and competing (Czech and three domestic events) I’ve noticed that there are dogs competing in the events which do not comply with the corresponding breeds standards. In some instances it has even crossed my mind whether there should be a mandatory show result for all dogs competing in the events to even things out.

These are the two sides of the age old discussion about the form and function: which should be emphasized more and is one above the other. My -honest but sad- opinion is, that the current dog show system puts too much emphasis on the form over function. This will cause problems to the breeds later on, if they haven’t been affected already.

Form and function should be equal and the judges should be taught to think alike. For without the form there would be no breed, but without the function the form would be lacking substance.