The Bubble: Revisiting an Old Controversy

Multicolored rainbow in a bubble. Abstract texture inside of the soap bubble, macro photography.

 

The Bubble: Revisiting an Old Controversy

This month, I will be covering a few different topics that I have been following.

I would like to revisit an old controversy from a different angle. It has often been discussed as to whether or not puppies should be allowed to finish their championships from the Puppy Classes, with puppies gaining their titles before they are fully matured. Many people have suggested that in order to qualify, they should have a qualifying win after a certain age. Brilliant puppies do not always become such brilliant adults and can even grow to be a disqualifying size for their breed. I, for one, have always been in favor of the idea. I have seen so many dogs over the years that were absolutely gorgeous, fabulous puppies—but not so great at maturity. Others have believed that if the puppy was good enough, it deserved the title.

Perhaps we should reevaluate how championships are awarded and try to find a solution that would satisfy both sides of the argument. With the low number of dogs currently being shown in so many breeds, fewer entries are needed for a major. It is now becoming possible for people to finish more puppies at a young age, with fewer left to compete in the adult classes. One solution would be for puppies and young dogs to compete for a Junior Championship, as they do in many other countries, in addition to the current championship title. Too many shows have no class entries these days, as the puppies have already finished and few are ready to be shown as a special.

Going back to the topic of preservation, just what is it that breeders are trying to preserve? What should they be trying to preserve? Modern breeds have Breed Standards that have been established for many years. The question is: Do the dogs still meet the Standard or have they veered away from the Standard?

I had the opportunity to look at this from the other end when I was involved in a breed that had not yet been recognized by the American Kennel Club. My question to those who were established in the breed: How was the Breed Standard created in the first place? Were they describing the ideal exhibits in their breed at that time or were they describing their vision of the ideal specimen of the breed? So, the question is: Did breeders have a blueprint from the original stock they wished to preserve and keep, or were they creating a Standard based on their own ideal?

This would be a good topic to discuss in any breed. I know that in mine it could be quite contentious. The next question is: How far back should we go? To the very first dogs recorded in the breed’s stud book; those that existed when the Standards were created, or to the creators’ image of their ideal?

I don’t know how many breeds have their own dedicated pedigree database, complete with photographs, but those that do have a wonderful source of information. (If the people in the breed today actually go back and study those early or original dogs, most current breeders and exhibitors could be quite surprised.) When people talk about dogs of the past, they don’t think back to those dogs and bitches. They think of 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

This set me to thinking. I came through what could now be called the “golden age of communication,” when so much history was being retrieved and recorded. Photographs, articles, and letters were all recorded on paper and stored. Breed clubs produced newsletters in different countries which were shared around the world. Information was shared and discussed. Fast forward to today, people no longer talk on the telephone and many are no longer interested in their breed’s history. How much ofa our current and recent history will be lost now that everything is so ephemeral?

The Internet is geared for quick views and no retention. When creating a website, we are told to use pictures and limit the words as “people do not like to read too much text.” (That was a specific suggestion when I was working on my own site). Where will people go in future decades, when they want to learn more about what was happening in the world of dogs in the early 21st century?

I was part of a discussion the other day on the difficulties some breed clubs are having in finding people who were willing and able to attend Meet the Breeds events, especially when associated with an important dog show. Someone commented that one problem was that many breeders who would be showing dogs at that show would have been unable to attend. I can see an easy solution to that problem. Instead of only putting the request out to club members and people who actively show their dogs, breeders and club officers must know of people who do not currently show but who would love to participate. I know that many owners would be honored to be invited to represent their breeds—and who knows, they may become so interested in these events that they decide to show dogs in the future.

I would be very interested to receive some feedback on the things I have mentioned this month. Stephanie Hunt-Crowley: shuntcrowley@yahoo.com

Modern breeds have Breed Standards that have been established for many years. The question is: Do the dogs still meet the Standard or have they veered away from the Standard?

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  • Stephanie Hunt-Crowley started showing and breeding dogs as a teenager back in the UK. Her “heart breed” has always been the Afghan Hound, but she was also one of the early breeders who helped to introduce the American Cocker Spaniel to the UK. Her Am. Ch. The Agitator (Imp. USA) won Best AVNSC at Crufts before the breed had classes there, and the first year CCs were on offer she won the bitch CC with an American import. Stephanie started writing about dogs, contributing to breed note columns in the weekly dog press, and producing a newsletter for the South Afghan Club. Chandhara exports have won championship titles in several countries, but Stephanie also imported Afghan Hounds from the United States and Spain. She was approved by the Kennel Club to award CCs in the breed, and the year after that she relocated permanently to live in the United States. Stephanie has also judged the breed in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. She was a regular columnist for the American breed magazine Afghan Hound International and a contributor to Afghan Hound Review. She also wrote for Dogs in Review. Stephanie bred a number of American and Canadian show ring and lure coursing champions. She now lives in rural France.

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