Monday, 16 May 2011

Kennel Club bans Dog World from its AGM


You  know an organisation is in trouble when it starts clamping down on media access and the Kennel Club has again shot itself in its clumsy paw by banning Dog World from its AGM this coming Thursday (19 May).  For those that don't know, Dog World has enough objective professionalism to be able to criticise the Kennel Club from time to time but it is, essentially, a KC/dog-show-friendly paper with loyal support from breeders and exhibitors - partcularly the brighter ones who prefer it to the badly-written KC-toadying of its rival, Our Dogs.

(This blog, by the way, is brought to you from outside of Kennelclubistan where freedom of the press - however uncomfortable this makes it for some - is considered a basic tenet of democracy.)

Dog World's crime? Reporting on a campaign by champ Poodle breeder Mike Gadsby to stop the KC Stasi (as some breeders are referring to them) coat-testing Fi-Fi and Frou-Frou for such criminal substances as conditioner and the odd squirt of hairsrpay.  Discussion of this topic is, apparently, verboten because it is an item on the agenda for Thursday's AGM and the KC doesn't want agenda items to be reported ahead of the AGM (the fear being that the way they are reported might unfairly influence the way members vote). But, of course, this one is already in the public domain via a Facebook page (UK Show Dog Exhibitors Who Support An End To K.C. Coat-testing) and many other discussions on the internet.



As senior judge and Dog World columnist Andrew Brace commented on the Facebook page (a comment I now see has been removed) the KC's obsession with hairspray is "confusing" when greater misdemeanours such as altering terriers' ears and tails appear to go unmonitored. Eh? Ah yes, those perfect ear-folds are, apparently, sometimes achieved with the aid of flattening irons, while bolt-upright tails are occasionally achieved with the aid of stiffening wire. (And if you don't believe me, have a close look at some of those undocked Kerry Blue tails in the UK show ring - unless, perhaps it's Viagra keeping them bolt-upright?)

But while there's no doubt that Gadsby and the 2000-plus people who have already signed his petition have a point, arguing that harmless cosmetic enhancement is OK because there are greater ills out there is very often the tactic of those resenting personal scrutiny. (I say this, of course, as someone who is very often challenged to deal with the real problem of puppy mills rather than all those lovely people doing their best to breed happy, healthy pedigree dogs.)

I suspect the KC's focus on hairspray and talc is driven by two things: first, it's pretty easy to monitor and second, stopping it would in their eyes restore some of the show world's reputation as not just a bunch of fruits doing silly things to their dogs in order to win rosettes. But, surely, what needs to happen here is surely that the KC doesn't just scratch-and-sniff Poodle coats, but makes some attempt to police the more serious cheating that goes on - such as ear-crimping or the implantation of false testicles. When I last checked with the Californian company that sells Neuticles, they told me that over 3,000 pairs of them had been sold to the UK. Now the company absolutely insisted that they were being bought by ordinary pet owners who want their neutered male dogs to look more macho. Hmmm.

Separately, and rather quietly, the KC has also tried to tighten up rules regarding photography and filming at shows. The following has recently been added to most champ show schedules:

Click to enlarge
The relevant new bit here is: "Specific dogs may be photographed only with the approval of the exhibitor" and essentially it means that if I or anyone else should see a Bulldog gasping for breath, or a Peke on an icepack, or a Basset Hound with sore eyes or a Neapolitan Mastiff burdened with an absurd amount of excess flesh, that it can no longer be photographed and reported.

In truth, there are many ways round the new rules, but this is dangerous territory for the KC and I don't believe that any truly-thinking person in the dog world wants their sport to be hidden like they're a bunch of fiddling paedophiles who have to indulge their guilty pleasure behind closed doors.

Yes, outside scrutiny can be uncomfortable and irritating and sometimes unfair. But either there is a case to answer or there isn't. The KC must be able to withstand this kind of scrutiny - and to either robustly defend what has been reported/photographed or accept that changes need to be made.

Don't suppose regime change is an item is on the agenda at this year's AGM,  but the voices from the people of Kennelclubistan calling for democracy are getting louder.

32 comments:

  1. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how it is okay to take pictures, generally, at a dog show, but forbidden to take pictures "of a specific dog."

    How do they reckon that works?

    But yes, they may as well dub this the Jemima Rule.

    Now on Facebook there is a page called "Dog Show Fashion Police" that is just photographs of sartorial don'ts at dog shows, heavy on the "short skirt, fat chick" shots as well as greater and lesser crimes of apparel. Wonder if there will be a rule someday that photography in general is okay, but no pictures "of a specific person?"

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  2. In horses, people use ginger (gingerol) on or in the anus to make the tail stand up.

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  3. Next they will stop people at discover dogs asking specific questions about health related problems.
    Oh wait.......they have started already. A friend of mine was "told off" for upsetting exhibitors at the DD at the London Pet Show for asking "awkward" questions.

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  4. Actually, the comment regarding the photographing of specific dogs is not new - it has appeared in the rules for several years.

    Surely it's only common good manners to ask an owner if they mind?

    "those perfect ear-folds are, apparently, sometimes achieved with the aid of flattening irons, while bolt-upright tails are occasionally achieved with the aid of stiffening wire"

    Flattening irons?????? Stiffening wire??????
    How on earth could you 'iron' an ear into place? And don't you think a piece of wire might be noticed as the judge runs their hands aong the tail?

    Even you can't be quite that gullible Jemima!

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  5. Jess said...
    "In horses, people use ginger (gingerol) on or in the anus to make the tail stand up."

    There was a post on an email list I follow about a year and a half ago suggesting something similar be used to encourage dogs to do the same thing. Might have been menthol that was suggested though. This suggestion was not received well.

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    1. I presume they were told where to put their suggestion?

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  6. It's not something I have ever been party to, so I'm not able to comment I'm afraid.

    I do know, as a judge, that I would quickly pick up a piece of wire attached to a tail - and as a dog owner, the idea of ironing my dogs ears into a fold is just plain ludicrous!

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  7. i'm curious, did the judge you mentioned actually say that about the wire in the tail? that's so strange.

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  8. I've been told that the wire, or some other stiffening material, is surgically implanted into the tail - it's not on the outside.

    Alternatively (and perhaps this is more common) tendons are released/tightened (again a surgical procedure) to achieve the right tail carriage.

    Re the ears, the flattening irons are not hot - they're used to break the cartilage. I have a reliable eye-witness account of castrating irons being used to "crimp" the ear into the perfect tip-over.

    That something is done by some terrier exhibitors is in no doubt. The temptation must be huge if you have an otherwise great dog spoiled by the wrong ears or tail set - and pretty easy to justify in a culture where cheating of some kind or another is common; whether harmless stuff like blackening a nose, or the whitening of a coat, or more serious transgressions such as the implanting of false testicles.

    Jemima

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  9. I have terriers whose ears have to fold and who hold their tails out. I have had them since 1981 and can honestly say I have never heard of wire being used on a tail.

    To encourage the ears to fold into place, you sit with a puppy on your knee and massage the ear into place. The ears will fly everywhere while they are teething.

    Have never heard of ironing ears either, sticking plasters inside the ear yes, irons no.

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  10. Anon wrote: "i'm curious, did the judge you mentioned actually say that about the wire in the tail? that's so strange."

    Because that's not the way you've heard it is done?

    To clarify should anyone else think similarly, no, Andrew Brace did not mention any specific method of fixing terrier ears and tails.

    Jemima

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  11. no it just seems really weird, putting a wire in a tail. just wonderedif the judge said that people did this or if you inserted that. i have a dashound.

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  12. "Flattening irons?????? Stiffening wire??????
    How on earth could you 'iron' an ear into place? And don't you think a piece of wire might be noticed as the judge runs their hands aong the tail?

    Even you can't be quite that gullible Jemima!"

    Can you really be quite that naive, Sheila?

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  13. Ooops. . . Silly Old KC for banning Dog World. Gagging the media, particularly one of the few organs that is somewhat supportive is totally politically naive. They really are as stupid as they seem.

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  14. Well naive I may be, but in more than 30 years of breeding and showing terriers I can honestly say that I have never come across either suggestion.

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  15. Aaaah. Jemima, Jemima, Jemima! [Who?]

    So THERE you are... lurking in the dark, lonely, shadowy corridors of the internet forums, waiting for weeks and months on end for a golden opportunity to leap into someone else's slipstream of publicity, whom you have been patiently stalking like some low rent media hooker, desperate to find the means to snort their next fix of [self] promotion.

    Stop at nothing girl. Shaking with withdrawal symptoms of attention, regardless of the facts or credible substantive evidence, like a pig with a rifle scatter your bullets of self righteous [laughable] accusations in order to get just a lil' teeny weeny piece of the action, hmmm sweetums?

    Sensational suggestive analogies of dog exhibitors as "a bunch of fruits" and more sinister and defamatory: "a bunch of fiddling paedophiles who have to indulge their guilty pleasure behind closed doors" - you got it bad lady. Word it how you like, you underestimate people's intelligence.

    Advice to the rest of you that she's trying to bait up in here with her sarky swipes, you really have to be cruel to be kind with these junkies. Just leave quietly. Lets not rubber neck the wreckage that is someone who masquerades as an intelligent, informed expert who sets the scene for a constructive campaign to abolish puppy farming, who then having grabbed the floor, in awe of herself, gets struck by the spotlight and promptly spins on her heels and shoots the allie troops instead of the terrorists in dizzy confusion. What a gratuitous, self indulgent waste.

    I wonder how you feel about 'censorship' now dear and how long it will be before you wipe this off your forum?

    Come on now everybody, lets all move on and clear out... there's nothing to see here.

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  16. Can the kennel Club legally prevent you from taking pictures at dog shows? what about spectators who do it? I don't get it.

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  17. For everyone’s information, including Jemima who gets it wrong again, Dog World have not been 'banned' from attending the KC AGM. For years the convention has been that both dog papers have had a non KC member of staff invited to the meeting. As DW has chosen to break all other conventions on this and failed to respect long standing arrangements with the KC, despite still taking advertising money and other invitations from them, the invite to the NON KC member of staff has been withdrawn.
    However, as they do have members of staff and people related to DW who ARE members of the KC they are perfectly free to attend, take notes, write or dance or whatever they want to do.
    So no ban. Buy hey, why let the truth get in the way of a good headline Jemima; we have all been here before!

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  18. The Kennel 12 AGM - how does it work?

    There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the role of the Kennel Club Annual General Meeting. The Internet is awash with speculation, rumour and misunderstanding much of it founded on the idea that the members of the Kennel Club at their Annual General Meeting will change the regulations regarding dog shows. This is not the case. The KC AGM can only change the constitution and rules of the Kennel Club and these rules only apply to the running and organisation of the Kennel Club. The constitution and rules set out the obligations of members and the way in which the Kennel Club is organised. Than organisation is made up of the General Committee, a number of Subcommittees and Councils which the General Committee uses to formulate the regulations governing the activities for which the Kennel Club is responsible. A motion put forward at the AGM cannot change the regulations but only recommend that a change be considered. The members can make their views known but in the final analysis the General Committee would ask the appropriate Sub-committees and or Councils for their view before any changes were made. The Councils and the Subcommittees are made up of Kennel Club members and representatives of general shows for the Shows Council and breed clubs for the Breed Council and many of those members are put forward by the clubs that make up the show fraternity. This may not be perfect but it is disingenuous to suggest that the 1100 members of the Kennel Club discuss show regulations in private and make up their minds without consultation.

    The idea that the Kennel Club is not allowing debate is quite wrong and it would be sensible for those who have made so many inaccurate and misleading comments to check their facts before they begin disseminating information which is wide of the mark.

    It is true that there are many who believe that the structure of the Kennel Club could be greatly improved (me included and I have written forcibly on the subject both in Our Dogs and on my web log - http://davidcavill.wordpress.com- on several occasions) but much which has been written on Facebook over the past few days (and especially the totally unacceptable vicious attacks on those who do not agree with the proposers of a particular view) is simply not true. This question is worthy of serious debate and well worth dicussing at the KC AGM I am sure this is what Mike Gadsby intended.

    I have to agree with much of what Ms Kis has said regarding the publicity slipsteam (what a lovely expression) and, of course, her comments do not just apply to you, Jemima.

    National newspapers are divided colloquially into ‘red top’ and ‘quality’ publications. The reason is that those considered to be ‘quality’ publications have high ethical standards, report the news and deal with facts. As its publisher I strive to ensure that Our Dogs is responsible to its readers, balanced in its coverage, ethical in its dealing with both breeders, exhibitors, advertisers and the Kennel Club and thoughtful: in short our aim is a thoughtful, ‘quality’ publication.

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  19. Speedy Dog: please read the truth (if Jemima decides to upload it)as DW have NOT been banned from the AGM. For your information and Jemimas OUR DOGS will not be sending a non KC member of staff to cover the meeting so there is no advantage or disadvantage either way.
    Can you all now please lie down in a dark room and calm down.

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  20. Geez, I take it the Our Dogs contingency has entered the room? Sounds like sour grapes over missing the ball on breaking news to me.

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  21. I'm surprised David Cavill has the courage to show his face on this site after the humiliating ''Finnish Spitz'' interview....

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  22. Ah, but that's not on this site.. For that, you have to go here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qp7LrynKMw

    Jemima

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  23. As for the accuracy of the report/headline, Dog World has been told that it can't send a reporter after ten years of having sent one. They've also been told the reason why they're not being allowed to send one and the KC is even refusing to send DW copies of the key speeches after the AGM. Of course it's a ban.

    As editor Stuart Baillie has made clear in Dog World: “When we were asked to give an undertaking not to report in advance on AGM matters I refused. I believed that to give that sort of undertaking would have been a betrayal of our readers who expect us to be objective and impartial. And as an independent newspaper we must allow ourselves the freedom to reflect the views and opinions of everyone in the world of dogs."

    In this instance, Dog World deserves praise for making a stand. Should Our Dogs' spine ever stretch to a similar point of principle, I'll be sure to praise it, too.

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  24. Humiliating - rubbish. Lies, damn lies and statistics! The truth is on my web log at http://davidcavill.com and you can be absolutely assured that in my experience of 40 years of breeding Finnish Spitz in the UK the incidence of geneticly damaging conditions is statistically insignificant (2/3 cases of unspecified epilepsy - each having different characteristics and 3 cases of liver failure in something like 600 dogs.

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  25. Please reassure me that Ms Kis is not Ms Kisko from the KC?

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  26. Any vet who surgically alters a dog for showing by 'nicking' nerves, inserting wires (!) or neuticles ought to be strung up. It makes me mad when I think of the hassle my clients go through to get working dog puppies 'altered' through tail docking so they can perform the job they were designed for. I hope you are over-estimating all this Jemima, or I'm gonna feel very sad about my profession :-(
    I'm not keen on powder and paint for dogs, but then I'm not keen on over trimming either. The KC needs to make the list of allowed/banned products clear then no-one can be grumpy if tested.

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  27. Hello David
    the link to your weblog is http://davidcavill.wordpress.com/
    The other link takes you to a site promoting holidays.

    David, can you honestly say you know the history and life of EVERY Finnish Spitz in the UK?
    Are you the only breeder of Finnish Spitz in the UK?
    For every puppy you have produced, do you know everything medically that has happened to that dog?
    Many puppy buyers who go on to put up with genetic illnesses never report back to their breeder so I doubt that any of the stats are 100% correct.
    My pug has idiopathic epilepsy. However I wouldn't refer to her as "insignificant".

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  28. I have heard of a Japanese spitz that went for some surgery and came back with two testicles instead of the one he had previously. He's a show champion now. Of course you can't prove these things. It could be just another malicious rumour, something the dog world thrives on.

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  29. Kate you are so right, having spoken personally to many pet owners with genetic illness in their dogs I would say maybe 1 out 40 have told the breeder. The reasons are many...the main one being a feeling of guilt, as if its somehow their fault..after all they only see a healthy puppy at 8 weeks from the breeder and worry its illness may have been caused by by their care. Some vets may tell them a disease isnt hereditary when in fact the predisposition to develop such a problem may well be. And most of all all they are concerned about is their family pet and the worry of illness overides anything else So to you breeders who appear convinced your lines and breed are healthy ...unless you have regular contact with every puppy you have ever bred and the same for every puppy the stud dog has produced then im afraid you are simply assuming ...because no-one has told you different. Assuming isnt knowing !

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  30. The ear crimping/iron thing is complete hogwash. Cartilage in the ear is living tissue. You break it it heals WITH scar tissue. The resulting ear will NOT pass muster in the ring. Nice try. Sounds really dramatic but is completely untrue.
    Ears will fly all over till after teething. If someone tried the crimping/iron approach, they would have a dogs version of "cauliflower" ears.

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