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Ego or Passion? – Responding to Criticism

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90 – March 2017

By Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton of Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC

Last month the Westminster Kennel Club show was held in New York. People from all over the world and the country came to New York to exhibit their purebred dogs in conformation and performance. Owners, handlers and spectators watched as these dogs arrived at the show ready to compete. They had been bathed, groomed, fed and trained for this competition. The Westminster Kennel Club is one of the nation’s oldest sporting events. Winning here is the ultimate achievement in our sport. This show is the people’s show.

Last month an article was published in the Washington Post entitled, Dogs Deserve Better Than An Outdated Beauty Pageant by Ingrid Newkirk, the president and co-founder of PETA. This article criticized the show and the participants, human and canine. In the article Ms. Newkirk speaks about the dogs arriving at Westminster. She says, “3000 dogs will be paraded around New York’s Madison Square Garden so the judges can scrutinize every inch of their bodies from their inbred, squashed-in noses and surgically sculptured ears to their coiffured coats and stubby amputated tails. The judges will look for “faults” much like Internet trolls look for flaws in a celebrity’s injected lips.”

People involved in the world of show dogs have heard these claims before. They have also heard Miss Newkirk’s next statement, “It’s all about the owners and their egos, not the dogs who are reduced to living mannequins to be
tweaked and primped into something that they aren’t.” Yet, participants in this competition would beg to differ with Miss Newkirk. In fact, it’s not their egos that keep them in the sport but the love of the breed. Are you one of the own- ers, breeders, handlers or exhibitors who stay in the sport for the love of the breed or are you there to bolster your ego?

If you have shown dogs for a while you know it takes a great deal of work to keep a dog in show condition. Keeping them as pets is much easier. Most show dogs prefer to be kept clean and groomed, that way they can see out of their eyes and walk with trimmed nails. Yes, a dog can sometimes look sculpted when every hair is in place. Quite frankly, these dogs are as used to the primping, as pets are used to being left alone. For all dogs, it is about the kind of experiences they are having with their owner. The manner in which a caretaker introduces their dog to the world of competition events and the preparation that goes into par- ticipating will either positively or negatively impact the dog.

Dogs are amazingly flexible companions. They will work and play with us at whatever we ask them to do. What we as caretakers of these wonderful animals have to watch for, regardless of whether they are groomed for show or left ungroomed, is that all are enjoying the process. If you or your dogs are not happy maybe it’s time to take a break.

In the live stream from WKC, which avid dog owners watched all day long, there were incidents recorded that were then cut and pasted on to social media showing a dog’s handler mistreating it or a dog looking mis- erable in the ring. These are the images animal rights, animal welfare and animal advocates look for in order to bolster articles such as the one written by Ms. Newkirk. The fancy knows better and for the most part treats their dogs with love and respect. When they don’t, they leave the entire sport open to criticism.

Click here to read the complete article
90 – March 2017

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=121704

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