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William McCandlish – Dog Show Words to Live By

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178 – May 2019


You might think that the dog biz is a thrill a minute, another shocking surprise around every corner. Let me set you straight. I recently discovered a captivating little book, Dog Show Maxims authored by William L. McCandlish back in 1925, that’s almost a century ago. At first glance I anticipated a quaint dip into nostalgia; possibly a few genuine insights considering his once preeminent position in this sport.

Instead I found a forceful reminder of the universal convictions at the basis of this world. I’ll throw you a few examples I came across but let me preface that by stating the obvious incontestable point.

It’s hard to imagine another sport where opinion plays such a predominant role. Judges, breeders, handlers, we are an opinionated lot. And disagreement is as ubiquitous as dog hair. This is about cutthroat competition and nobody’s looking to lose. In that sense it’s understandable to think we are allergic to general harmony.

But even within the most vociferous arguments somehow the whole thing never crumbles into chaos. Because regardless of the egos and polarized views at stake, it is founded on a common core of immutable truths like form follows function, etc. They provide a constant stabilizing presence within this ever-shifting competitive landscape.

Many of these fundamental principles actually predate the dog game entirely, tracing their origins to established traditions of breeding and evaluating horses and livestock. If nothing else, that demonstrates their endurance. So it’s good to know that someone had the presence of mind to record them for purebred posterity. We can thank William McCandlish for his efforts.

He’s long gone and essentially forgotten but back when he was running the dog world (and I mean that literally) he was one of those notoriously meticulous, detail obsessed types that simply refused let go of anything until they were satisfied. Sort of like a Scottie, the breed that first brought him into this orbit. Every facet of his career in dogs epitomized his purist philosophy. Invited to write one of the earliest breed books, he described himself in the intro as a student of the breed – not a consummate authority. “True it is that no book in any way exhaustive has ever been written upon the Scottish Terrier, but the selection of the person to write one was Mr. Marples’s and not mine. No pretense is made that this volume supplies the want, and no one is more aware of the limitations in the knowledge of the writer on this subject than I am.”

Click here to read the complete article
178 – May 2019

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Posted by on May 28 2019. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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