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From The CC Vault: It’s The Dogs, Stupid!

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, March, 1996

Editor’s Note: Although this article was written 28 years ago, parts of it still apply to the sport of purebred dogs today. We still seem to be discussing the same problems. This article refers to some solutions that, unfortunately, never came to fruition.

by Herman L. Fellton

Earlier this month (March) the Delegate Body of the AKC conducted an election for the three available seats on the Board of Directors class of the year 2000. It was the bitterest, most fiercely fought electoral contest in AKC history and revealed some basic, but not overwhelming, schisms in practice and philosophy among the contending parties. It showed that the AKC, even as the regulator of an idealistic amateur sport, is a microcosm of the national political scene, not above the frailties of personal aggrandizement, power-grabbing and political trickery.

This wasn’t a two-party election nor was it truly a wide-open, nonpartisan affair, even though there were eleven candidates vying for the three available positions. It turned out to be a rather mean-spirited contest between the establishment elite who had run the AKC in the past and some relative newcomers who had managed to gain parity on the existing Board of Directors – some “rebels with a cause.”

On the “right” was an able and experienced power broker and string puller with his numerous organized associates and assistants plus the editorial staff of a potent weekly magazine. These were based in the New York area or in outposts of that culture.

On the “left” was an unorganized (perhaps disorganized) group of individuals who, as mentioned earlier, had gained parity on the pre-election Board. These were the “reformers” who, long on ideas and convictions but short on political skills, hoped to prevail because they believed, like Sir Galahad, that their hearts were pure and their causes were correct.

Well, this isn’t a fairy tale and, as you know, the side with the most firepower won.

But, like the phoenix rising from the fire and like Atlanta after General Sherman’s pyrotechnics, there will be some gain for the AKC from this dramatic experience. The powers that be are bound to modify their thinking, increase their flexibility, and adopt a wider, kinder, more encompassing management philosophy.

For one thing they should give up threatening to cancel the most important, progressive, financially positive step the AKC has taken during its existence: the move of its headquarters, office activities, museum and library to a single expandable site in North Carolina. We all realize that if the AKC had purchased a site and built its headquarters outside of New York City as recently as 15 or 20 years ago, we would now own outright a permanent, more suitable home and not be pouring huge sums of money down the drain for rent year after year.

Secondly, they will remember that the broad base of support for the Sport of Purebred Dogs (and for the AKC) is the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who own, love, handle, train and exhibit purebred dogs; not just a relatively few upper tier, showbiz types. This majority is interested in obedience, field trials, agility, temperament testing, good citizenship, lure coursing, canine health, etc. as well as conformation shows. Giving them a full opportunity to indulge their interest and concerns is definitely an AKC mandate.

Conformation shows like Westminster are the shining crown jewels of the sport but the run of the mill shows and the other activities mentioned above constitute the meat and potatoes. Unfortunately, we still have some powerful voices who advocate selling the sizzle rather than the steak.

Thirdly, “It’s The Dogs, Stupid!” Purebred dogs, not human egos, are our reason d’etre. We must never lose sight of that.

The AKC should, to the greatest extent possible, uphold, strengthen and refine the sanctity of the purebred dog registration process. It must enforce the physical and mental requirements of the various breed standards by educating judges and improving judging. It must move with the times to recognize and influence the public perception of the overall purebred dog scene with an intelligent and effective public relations program. The parent breed clubs need to be encouraged and supported.

We aficionados share a common bond: concern, affection and responsibility for the health and overall welfare of the dogs that are the basis for our mutual involvement. This community of interest should reach from the novice, still elated by winning a blue ribbon, to the veteran excited only by best of breed, group and best in show wins, to the “professionals” – the judges and handlers who are a core constituency of our sport.

 Despite some differences of opinion regarding what the AKC should or should not do, the individuals currently serving on the Board of Directors are fine, upright leaders of the Sport of Purebred Dogs and we are fortunate to have them directing the affairs of the AKC.

Let’s go forward together into a bright future!

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Posted by on May 5 2024. Filed under Current Articles, Dog Show History, 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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  • May 2024