On a Facebook page for show judges, Brace explains:
Ever since the initial announcements were made, heralding the introducing of the vet checks for certain BOB winners, there was an understandable resentment on the part of judges that statements which came out from the Kennel Club's press office that by inference suggested that in the past judges had ignored the need for their winning dogs to be fit and healthy, free from exaggerations that caused them any discomfort. This of course was nonsensical as any self-respecting judge had always sought to reward dogs that represented their breeds in a wholly typical manner, yet were happy, fit and healthy and in no way constructed in such a way that they suffered as a result.Er, you mean like this dog?
Or this one?
Or perhaps this one?
Or how about this one?
Dog shows have been the single biggest driver in reducing some formerly-functional breeds into oversized, over-angulated, over-coated, over-wrinkled, saggy-eyed travesties. For Brace to believe otherwise is delusional (and, indeed, directly contradicts what he himself said in this article in Dog World just a year ago.)
And yet Brace goes on:
"In some cases the BOB had been awarded by judges of the reputation and standing of Ferelith Somerfield and Zena Thorn Andrews, the latter being at the time the solitary all-breeds judge in the UK."
Now that's a reference to Ch Buzz Lightyear at Dereheath - the Basset that Zena Thorn Andrews awarded BOB at Crufts 2012 and which failed the vet check.
This dog (described by Mrs Thorn Andrews as having "superb conformation") failed for an eye problem, not the fact that he had excess flesh dripping from every limb. But look what happened at Crufts the following year? This dog won. A vast improvement.
Unfortunately, Crufts 2014 saw a regression to this... a real shame.
But I still believe that the vet checks are, in the main, making judges more careful about the dogs they reward and that no judge should ever put up any dog that is in less than demonstrably good health on the day. Extreme conformation in and of itself is not (say the rules) a reason to DQ a dog, but because the more extreme dogs are more likely to have accompanying signs of clinical disease (e.g. sore eyes from from ectropion) the vet checks have had a moderating effect.
Brace, though, won't be swayed - and rather than lobby to improve the vet checks, he wants them gone. He thinks the independent scrutiny of these "victimised" breeds are "humiliating" and, further, he denigrates some judges who are willing to continue to judge them as "fault-obsessed" at the expense of type. He maintains:
And he goes on:
"Judging dogs brings with it enough pressures, and enough concerns to do the job right, without the additional worry of finding a dog that not only pleases the judge sufficiently to award it BOB, but will also satisfy some vet who may have no intimate knowledge of that breed as to its suitability to represent its breed in the group ring."The vet, of course, is not there to judge its suitability to represent its breed. The vet is there to judge its suitability as a dog.
And herein lies the rub. The Fancy wants the right to continue to do what the hell it likes, without outside scrutiny. That it so often finds itself in conflict with the veterinary profession is telling.Says Brace:
"Judging dogs should be a pleasurable experience, for the exhibitors, for the judge and for the ringside."Um. And for the dogs, Andrew.
For the dogs.
Here's the whole sorry post from Mr Brace.