A few days ago, I let the Kennel Club and others know that the BBC has commissioned me to make a follow-up film to Pedigree Dogs Exposed, to explore what impact the film had and to assess what progress has been made in addressing conformation and genetic issues in purebred dogs since 2008.
PDE 2 will be what the BBC call a "personal view" film - acknowledging, as of course I have to, how involved I have become in this issue since making Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
There has been no response from the Kennel Club yet. I am keen for the KC to have a voice in the film so hope they will decide to take part and to let me film at one or two dog shows between now and the end of the year so we can see what progress has been made since PDE, particularly as regards the "high-profile" breeds.
I asked, in fact, to film at Southern Counties Champ Show this weekend - and was turned down by Show Chairman David Cavill, although he has kindly offered himself as an independent expert on the film. I went along anyway yesterday and, walking along the benches mid-afternoon saw a man coming towards me who looked very familiar. We recognised each other at the same instant. It was Ronnie Irving, outgoing Chair of the KC, who did a bit of a double-take and hurried on. A few minutes later, an announcement went over the Tannoy reminding everyone that filming was not allowed. Coincidence? It was the only such announcement I heard all day.
I am, in fact, bound by strict broadcasting rules. There's nothing to stop me going in as a paying punter and using the lenses that God gave me, but, having been refused access to film, there's no way I can sneak in with a camera.
I am at Southern Counties to check out what dogs were winning from a conformation point of view, but, boy, it's easy to be distracted by the amount of 'product' being openly applied to the dogs now that the KC has suspended coat-testing. Perhaps that was the reason Ronnie Irving looked so stern-faced. Some attribute the timing of Ronnie's resignation as Chairman to the frustration he feels over the recent uprising by breeders demanding the right to slap conditioner, chalk and hairspray on their dogs - a view particularly well-articulated by Dog World columnist Kevin Colwell the week before last.
"It strikes me as ironic that the dog showing community mounted no mass protest against unhealthy dogs being rewarded in the show ring, no mass protest against ultra-close breeding practices and no mass protest against the systematic exaggeration of some breeds," wrote Kevin in the May 26 issue of Dog World. "We manned the barricades in defence of hair spray, silicone, chalk and lacquer. The Elnett revolution; nice to know where priorities really lie."
I hear that last week at Bath Champ Show, where Ronnie judged Best in Show, one well-known exhibitor was deliberately over-generous with the lacquer in order to ensure the KC Chair's hands were sticky with the stuff after going over his dog. Very childish if true.
Cosmetic enhancement unlikely to feature very large in PDE 2, except, perhaps, when it impinges directly on health and welfare, conformation or genetics. Which, of course, sometimes it does.