Extinction in the Conformation Sport

Before we go to Dr. Battaglia’s abstract 60 Breeds – Extinction in the Conformation Sport let’s review a few things from it as they relate specifically to the Gordon Setter.

Why is it that so many Americans own a purebred dog yet do not choose to use a breed standard or chose to breed? Why don’t purebred owners join breed clubs these days? What can we do to change this?13220941_183506565382764_5262498886704102536_n - Copy

Background

For over 100 years dog shows have been a popular sport in America and for some grew from a hobby to a profession or business. This in turn created more difficulty for the novice to win against the professional handler, seasoned breeder and experienced exhibitors. For many years the sport continued to grow along with the number of dog clubs, breeders and exhibitors but then this growth was followed by a change in society that brought changes in the popularity of breeding and showing dogs. The sport began to shift as people became more careful with use of their time and discretionary dollars. As expenses increased and the novice exhibitor’s chances of success decreased, many quit. This led to problems for dog clubs in attracting new members to manage events. Millions of people continue to own purebred dogs but entries at dog shows, purebred breeders, litters and club members continue a downward trend.

What if nothing changes?

The Gordon Setter does not appear on the list of 60 at risk of extinction and that is genuinely a good thing for the breed. Is that comfort enough though, for us to do nothing? If nothing happens to change the current trends in purebred dogs that include the Gordon Setter, the following will occur:

  1. The number of breeders using the breed standard will continue to fall.
  2. The number clubs hosting shows will continue to decline.
  3. Show entries will continue to decline.
  4. The Gordon Setter Club of America, it’s event committees, and Independent Gordon Setter clubs will not be able to educate their members and the public.
  5. The Gordon Setter will experience declining gene pool size and genetic diversity affecting the breed’s health.

What can you and I do to positively influence these trends?13221622_10207781311063392_7326498718333198333_n

Here are a couple of suggestions that a Gordon lover could do that will help to turn the negative trends. These would be what I like to call “the one small part we each need to play”.

  • If you are not a member of a local breed club or your national parent club (the GSCA) please join.
  • If you are a member then bring just one new member to the club each year. If each member did this clubs could double in size in just one year, bringing a valuable increase in the club’s work force and revenue that would support programs, education, activities and thus publicity for the Gordon Setter.
  • What if you own a Gordon Setter and are one of the millions of people who have never attended a dog show, agility trial, field trial, hunt test or any other AKC event? Set aside a few hours to attend one of these – that could be the one small part you play! You will learn something new about Gordon Setters and a bit about the sport and learning always has some positive effect.

If we brainstormed together I’m sure we would come up with many more ideas, things we could to do to play our small part. And, if we each committed to doing a small part every year, those would begin to add up and build that positive trend we want so much for the Gordon Setter we love.

The Abstract

This abstract by Carmen Battaglia measured 188 AKC breeds by four factors that are believed to be related to whether a breed is at risk of disappearing from dog show competition. That resulted in a list of *60 breeds who are at the highest risk. Consider if you will, that 60 breeds are nearly a third of all AKC recognized breeds.   *Table 3d 

  1. Number of litters and dogs registered
  2. Low conversion rate
  3. Low Entry
  4. Number of Limited Registrations

Number of litters and dogs registered

Ranked  #105 out of 188 breeds the Gordon Setter falls nearly in the middle of all breeds and has ranked similarly among AKC breeds for several years.

TABLE 2  of the abstract tells us that the 3 year average of Gordon Setter litters was 114, and that from those litters an average of 389 individual Gordon Setters were registered per year.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate measures the number of pups registered with AKC individually out of the number of puppies reported on litter registrations. The startling finding is that in 87 of the breeds studied, half of all pups are lost to the breed and stud book by not being registered – the conversion rate for those breeds is 50% or less.

Gordon Setter litters averaged 114 over 3 years with a total of 726 puppies born, and of those born 389 puppies were registered individually for a conversion rate of 53.5%. Close to half of all Gordon Setters are lost to the stud book and gene pool simply by virtue of never being registered. 

Low Entry

Data for the breeds listed as Low Entry (LE) serve as a measure of a breed’s gene pool size and its genetic diversity. A breed is considered a low entry breed when entries for that breed fall below 3,500 per year. The LE Breed List is used during the judging approval process by AKC because the number of educational opportunities is limited by the low number of breed entries at dogs shows. The number of breeds on the LE list continues to grow and by 2016 reached 90 breeds or 47% of the studbook with most of those breeds being well below the 3,500 threshold.

The good news is that the Gordon Setter is not a low entry breed. TABLE 1  tells us that 103 Gordon Setters (3 year average) were entered in conformation events or 26.6% of the Gordon Setters registered during that time.

Limited Registrations (LR)

Based on population statistics the expectation is that poor quality animals should fall in the 4-6% range which should correspond with the number of dogs placed on a Limited Registration (LR). This study noted that many breeds have a significantly higher percentage than this expected range of Limited Registrations, and noted further that the number of dogs registered by LR has been steadily increasing. Overuse of LR for purposes other than removing poor quality dogs from the gene pool, especially when added to the number of pups that aren’t registered at all (the conversion rate) will have a negative impact on the stud book.

Out of the averaged 389 Gordon Setters registered in this study, 43 were on Limited Registration or 11% of the total registered. This is not an alarming trend for the breed.

Recommendations and Proposals by Dr. Battaglia

Out Reach to the Stakeholders – Breed Clubs and Breeders

Share this information with Officers of the club and beyond to our breeder/owners. Share the consequences for doing nothing as a first step in any effort to stabilize the decline in show entries, breeders, exhibitors and breed size. An organized public relation, marketing and education effort is warranted.

National Sweepstakes

The proposal to create an AKC National Sweepstake and AKC National Maturity program for every breed is detailed completely in Dr. Battaglia’s complete abstract.

BEST NEWS! The Gordon Setter does not appear among the 60 high risk breeds! 

BETTER NEWS! It’s easy and it’s never too late to become a part of the solution!

GOOD NEWS! We gain important information from this study that will help us promote and protect our breed – let’s we act on it!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photos by Ben Perez – GSCA National Specialty

60 Breeds – Extinction in the Conformation Sport

Contributing Factors: Low Conversion Rates, Low Entry Breeds, Limited Registrations
Dr. Carmen Battaglia November, 2017

 

FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

My heart goes out to a member of our Gordon Setter community who lost her beautiful Gordon companion to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Her heart is broken. Learning, while doctoring to save her Gordon, that the food she had so carefully chosen to ensure her Gordon’s health and longevity, cost him his life instead, added unbearable pain to an already devastating loss.

We want you to be aware that DCM caused by diet has been confirmed in our beloved breed.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Link between Diet and Canine Heart Disease

July 12, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.

The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.

Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. The Labrador Retriever with low whole blood taurine levels is recovering with veterinary treatment, including taurine supplementation, and a diet change. Four other cases of DCM in atypical dog breeds, a Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu and two Labrador Retrievers, had normal blood taurine levels. The FDA continues to work with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs. The agency has also been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss these reports and to help further the investigation.

The FDA encourages pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Please see the link below about “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint” for additional instructions.

Additional Information

What’s “Special” About Specialties?”

Yep, there’s still time to plan a trip to Tuscon in November to catch the GSCA National Specialty! Click here for the website link – just in case you need the details!
The following article by Arliss Paddock reminds us why a trip to the National is one of the best things ever.
I sure can’t wait to see you here in Arizona in November!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

What’s “Special” About Specialties

Whether you’re a prospective owner researching a breed or an experienced breeder, handler, or judge involved in that breed for decades, there is no better place to learn than the breed’s national specialty show — or, simply, “the national.”

Usually held annually by the breed’s national parent club, the national is more than just a dog show; it’s where dedicated fans of the breed meet together year after year, sharing their knowledge and passion and bringing their best dogs to compete against excellent specimens of the breed from other parts of the country.

In addition to the conformation classes, the national typically offers other events such as obediencetracking, and agility, as well as breed-specific performance venues such as earthdog or field trialsherding tests and trialslure coursing, or draft tests.

As with any dog show, the point of the conformation classes is determination of the best breeding stock to continue the breed — and this point is taken nowhere more seriously than at the national. The national offers a look at the state of the breed and where it’s going.

A class win at the national can be a high point of a dog person’s year, and a Best of Breed or Best in Sweepstakes win can be the crowning glory of a long history in the breed.

But the beauty of the national goes beyond the glory of winning, whether hoped-for or achieved. To a dedicated fan of the breed, nothing matches the experience of seeing a ringful of those dogs that are so pleasing to your eye, wonderfully presented at their best and gathered together in a number that you don’t see anywhere else during the year. If you love that breed, it’s positively heart-stirring.

The national is the best place in the world to spend time with others who share your interest. There is no better opportunity to learn from others about the breed, whether ringside or at the breakfast buffet where everyone meets bleary-eyed after walking and feeding dogs and before launching into grooming.

Most parent clubs hold their national in different parts of the country from year to year. If you are seeking in-depth knowledge of a breed, look up the breed’s parent club and find out when and where the next national will be, and try to attend.

2018 GSCA National Specialty Important Deadlines!

 

RV RENTALS/BOX VAN PARKING/GROOMING SPACE

Information for the online ordering of RV parking spaces can be found at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCAParking. The opening date is 3 September at 5PM PT and the closing date is 22 September at 5PM PT. Please note that the dates are firm on opening and closing for this information. We are being granted the opportunity to do this BEFORE the site opens for the Coyote Classic regular all breed shows. We have spaces in several different lots to meet various needs and requirements. Any questions regarding RV parking should be directed to parking2018@coyoteclassic.org.

BOX VAN PARKING

Box van parking information is at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCABoxVan. You may view the map and ordering process now. The opening date is 3 September at 5PM PT and the closing date is 22 September at 5PM PT. Please note that the dates are firm on opening and closing for this information. We are being granted the opportunity to do this BEFORE the site opens for the Coyote Classic regular all breed shows. Any questions regarding box van parking should be directed to parking2018@coyoteclassic.org.

RV RENTALS

Several RV and trailer rental companies/contact information are listed on the NS website (http://gsca2018national.com/trailers/rvs.html). Important! If you rent a unit, you will still incur an additional daily site fee through Pima County Fairgrounds.You must make the site reservations.

GROOMING SPACE

Indoor reserved grooming spaces with electric are 10 X 10 feet and located in the Old Pueblo Hall on a first come, first serve basis. If you want to be next to someone, please do the reservation together. The grooming space reservations are all being done online at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCAGrooming . Free grooming space will be made available under the Pavilion. At no time may electrical be used in this area or any area under the Pavilion. If you do use power, you will be asked to leave. Grooming space questions should be directed to Pat Boldt, Event Coordinator at mpboldt@aol.com. All exhibitors are encouraged to bring their own extension cords and splitters.

Pat Boldt (California), 2018 National Specialty Event Coordinator. Questions? mpboldt.53@gmail.com or 951-764-9635

Turn of the Century Scandal: AKC vs. Boehm

I enjoyed this look back to the 1930’s and a scandalous battle between the AKC and an editorial writer, hope you do too!  Published by The Canine Chronical and linked below.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Turn of the Century Scandal

Turn-of-The-Century Scandals: AKC vs. Boehm

By Amy Fernandez

It may seem unbelievable, but at one time AKC often shared detailed information about its legal wrangles. Transcripts, depositions, and trial verdicts were published in the AKC Gazette. Needless to say, this was never an official policy and there was no altruistic motive attached to these uncharacteristic episodes of transparency. AKC did it to make a point. A good example is the case of AKC vs. S. Boehm. It merited three months of coverage, including extensive excerpts from the trial board hearing June 22, 1930.

It centered on an editorial in Dogdom, a monthly publication based in Battle Creek, Michigan. It had a good run from 1900-1941, and its success was built on its appeal to mainstream fanciers. The content wasn’t the most polished or professional. But it delved into the issues affecting its readers, often showcasing them with very lively editorials. And this one hit a nerve at 51 Madison Avenue.

Published in April 1930, it was provocatively titled How Much Longer, O American Kennel Club. The author, S. Boehm was clearly exasperated by AKC bureaucracy- specifically its contradictory treatment of fanciers, skyrocketing fees, and endless fines imposed for dubious infractions. It wasn’t the first, last, or worst journalistic denigration of AKC management. But this author was also a breeder/exhibitor with 16 years in the game. Speed may not exemplify every AKC action, but they were on this immediately. Boehm headed the list at AKC’s next Executive Committee Meeting.

Minutes from the May 20 meeting reported, “ It was moved and carried that the Legal Committee write a letter to the publisher and editor of Dogdom, calling attention to misstatements and other statements bordering on libel… stating that if this policy is continued the matter will be referred to our attorney. It was moved and carried that the Secretary be instructed to prefer charges against S. Boehm for conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the American Kennel Club… and that same be sent to the Los Angeles Trial Board.” On July 18 the Los Angeles Trial Board’s report was presented during another Executive Committee session. “It was moved and carried that the report be received and its recommendation, as follows, adopted: That S. Boehm be suspended indefinitely from all rights and privileges of the American Kennel Club the same to take effect immediately.”

But AKC wasn’t finished. The August Gazette ran a lengthy editorial justifying for the outcome, followed by several pages of testimony from the June 22 trial. They did not share the article that had sparked this contentious incident, instead quoting statements to which AKC “particularly objected.”

Here’s a sampling:

“The AKC has developed into an institution that seems to look up on the dog game as an easy source from which to draw money.”

“Conditions prevail that are absolutely unbelievable. The majority of American fanciers acknowledge this.”

“The AKC is of no use to the average fancier.”

The writer qualified that remark, saying that registrations were the only benefit he’d derived from the organization – and he paid for this service. He specifically questioned why small specialty clubs were charged $50 licensing fees, a considerable sum back then, and receiving no tangible benefits in return. Admittedly, Boehm’s tone verged on volatile, but he raised timely issues. They were especially pertinent to West Coast fanciers who felt completely disconnected from AKC. Boehm wasn’t the only fancier baffled by its contradictory policies and erratic enforcement of rules. Pointing out that some violations received draconian penalties, while others were ignored; he added that many infractions resulted rampant clerical errors by AKC staff, a fact that never seemed to merit consideration. He made rather blunt comparisons between dictatorial government regimes and AKC’s autocratic manner. Even so, by today’s standards, Boehm’s rant seems tame. But AKC was determined to discourage similar journalistic criticism. They retaliated.

Then as now, AKC never suffered a lawyer shortage. When presenting the matter to Gazette readers, they repeatedly emphasized that, “The trial was based not upon the defendant’s criticism of the AKC, but on statements that appeared in Dogdom.” The relative impartiality of AKC trial boards remains a perennial source of debate. In this case, the Los Angeles Trial Board consisted of Al Christy and John Sinnott, chaired by Freeman Ford. They utilized the classic defamation strategy of proving that Boehm’s statements were false and therefore legally actionable. That was obviously the point AKC sought to illustrate when they published this transcript. However, it revealed much more than they bargained for.

They requested that Boehm submit evidence supporting the veracity of his statements.

Instead, he brought five witnesses to testify at his hearing – and he had plenty to say. Like AKC, he used the typical legal defense, contending that his comments were editorial opinion. “The AKC now attempts to deprive me of my privileges not because I have broken one of their many rules, nor because I have committed a fraud, but because I have stated my opinions to the press – and it did not suit the AKC.” Christy responded saying, “I don’t think they mind your opinion, as much as they mind your printing your opinion – broadcasting it.”

That pretty much set the pace for this candid, sometimes comical, documented exchange. More than once, the testimony veered into that discomfort zone about the vague parameters that separate defamation, justified criticism, and the constitutional right to free speech. They sensibly avoided suggesting that Boehm had malicious intent, instead accusing him of inadequately researching the issue before launching his editorial blitzkrieg.

One witness, Z. B. West, admitted that Boehm might have gone a bit overboard, but also took the opportunity to complain about his personally frustrating experiences with the AKC registration department. “AKC clerical and detail work is very unsatisfactory… it seems to me there are grounds for a good deal of criticism of the detail work as it is handled… For example, it took me eight months to get one bitch registered and transferred, meanwhile two wins were cancelled. It took six months to register a litter brother to the bitch.” He cited plenty of detail to support his claim. The trial board wasn’t prepared for that topical detour. They reluctantly concurred that there was room for improvement, and eased through that awkward impasse with a bit of that vintage whine, “good help is hard to find.”

Pasadena breeder/judge Kyle Onstott, the era’s perpetual voice of restraint and reason, also appeared on Boehm’s behalf. “I would like to say that sentences taken out of context do not furnish a particularly good interpretation of the purpose or intent of the article.” His remarks sent the discussion off topic again as they debated the average fancier’s access to AKC rules pertaining to registration procedures and dog show regulations. Bohem chimed in to say that complete information was not readily available since that required purchasing the Gazette “at a fee.”

Another witness, Dr. Frank Porter Miller of Los Angeles, admitted that some rules were needlessly complicated and could seem unfair, “when a specialty club puts on a show of 11 dogs and pays fifty dollars… the article was a little raw, a little bold, but primarily there was a lot of truth in what was said… we should not condemn the opinion of a man.” Then as now, AKC rules were constantly revised and amended, and constituents often had trouble following the plot, especially since AKC did not publish a complete set of rules until November, 1932.

In September the Gazette ran another lengthy editorial. “Since the Boehm case, the American Kennel Club has received an astonishingly large number of letters complimenting the Club upon the verdict.” However, the surprisingly conciliatory tone suggests that those letters touched on a few more issues. Rather than rattling sabers, they brandished an olive branch. Entitled An Invitation to the Press, it stressed AKC’s commitment to transparency.

“Without thorough knowledge, no one can write with intelligence upon any subject. Take the American Kennel Club for example.” It goes on to say that few writers bother to ascertain the facts. “As a rule, he knows very little about the problems that confront the American Kennel Club and its officers. Quite often, he knows very little about dogs. Still, he plunges eagerly into the subject, and offers a lot of suggestions and changes that he believes will be beneficial to the sport, but in reality, are impractical and impossible in operation.” That observation is equally valid today. Misinformation in the mainstream media has fostered a deep rooted and possibly irreparable anti-AKC bias.

“Why these conditions exist has no bearing upon the subject. The American Kennel Club acknowledges that they do exist. And it is anxious to have them altered so writers will get firsthand information regarding the organization.” AKC summed up by suggesting that major publications arrange for regular press visits to AKC headquarters in order to ensure accurate reporting about touchy issues like their obsession with legislative detail, and the reasons for perpetual clerical delays. Registrations totaled roughly 800,000, and the article noted that back in the day when half as many were on file, “business moved considerably smoother than it does today.” Rather ominously, readers were warned that they were approaching the one million mark and, “the situation will become impossible if additional changes are not made in the system employed by the Club.”

AKC eventually reconsidered its harsh verdict against Boehm. His privileges were reinstated and, somewhat paradoxically, he carved out a successful career as a Gazette feature writer. As predicted, registrations soon passed that fateful milestone of one million in 1935. That lucky dog, a Sheltie appropriately called Sheltieland Alice Grey Gown, and his owner, Miss Catherine Edwards Coleman, attended a grand ceremony at AKC headquarters to mark the occasion.

It took half a century to reach that goal, which obviously wasn’t sufficient time to improve procedures to handle the volume of business. Nor did that happen during the next two decades as registrations surpassed five million. By then, AKC was immersed in phenomenal post-war growth. Annual registrations exceeding one million became routine. Since then, AKC has continually overhauled and streamlined procedures to achieve their time honored goal of efficient customer service. A century later it still seems perpetually out of reach.

Although its overall growth has slowed, in my opinnion, AKC never ceases to revise the map with new breeds and events – and endlessly changing rules. I think Boehm would likely cringe to see the current complexity of regulations governing AKC participants. This information is certainly more accessible, but to me that’s the upshot of internet technology rather than any drastic revisions in AKC philosophy. As always, it seems its commitment to transparency waxes and wanes along with the mood of the board. This might not ease your concerns about AKC management. But keep it in mind the next time you feel completely frustrated about your slow progress toward a personal goal.

Being an Owner Handler is NOT a Death Sentence

I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp, if she runs at all – I let a handler do the running these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring, and it goes without saying that my love amplified to a rock music decibel when I won. I’ve finished many dogs from many various classes, especially Bred by Exhibitor, and I’ve won my fair share of trips to the winners circle at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine, and knowing my limitations, that’s when I would choose to step back and let a pro take the lead. Today, because of my physical restrictions, I content myself to sit ring side leading the cheering squad. And, manning the water bucket…and handing over the brush…and passing out the bait…

With that said, frequently, I hear comments by exhibitors about how political the judging was, or how “the win” was stacked before the show even started. And just as frequently, I happened to agree with the judge’s decision that day (even if my dog lost) which left me wondering if falling back on that oft voiced complaint, was doing more harm to exhibitors than most of us realize.  Certainly if you think about it, if my dog with a pro handling was a winner that day, I didn’t think that judging was political…I thought we deserved that win. Wouldn’t you? For the winners sake, and many other reasons, I’m hoping to help bring understanding, especially for folks who are struggling to win, about the many, many variables of conformation judging. Sometimes, and often times, politics had nothing to do with the winners that day. I’d like us to give judges, the pros, and the sport a break, at least when it’s deserved!

When I’m watching judging, I am often overwhelmed with the desire to help some hapless exhibitor gain control over their dog, or grab a dog to help the owner learn a better way to groom, or maybe just to shake an exhibitor into consciousness so they go to the ring when called. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like all of you, but one thing I do know, and would share with you, is my belief and experience that the professional often wins because he or she is a professional, doing a professional job. (can you paint your car, bake cupcakes, do taxes, or any one of a million other jobs as well as a pro?) Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of a professionally handled dog versus the owner entry, and what I would share is that we owner handlers must develop our skill so we look and act like the pro, to make our dogs appear their best, to present only well-groomed, conditioned and trained dogs, if we intend to compete on an equal level. Owner handlers can and do win without doubt, but we too must do the work of a pro, and earn our wins by showing the judge the best our dog has to offer.

So, I started out to write this blog about what an owner handler can master to be competitive in the dog show ring, when I remembered that well-worn phrase “Google It” and that worked! I found many well written articles that offer the same advice I would write for you. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog, or simply believe you “just can’t win”, before complaining or blaming another for your loss, or worse yet leave the sport, perhaps you’ll read this, take time to evaluate yourself and your dog, and objectively consider the “picture” you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten that time by a better dog, or could you have done something more to improve the odds in your dog’s favor? No, it’s not always your fault your dog loses, but you’ve got to even the playing field first with skill, know your dog’s attributes and faults, and then consider, carefully, very carefully, if politics was at play, or if perhaps, you just don’t agree with this judge’s opinion on this particular set of dogs.

I love owner handlers and I would do anything to help you win, so you learn to love the sport as much as me, because I’ve lived that dream and know it can happen…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros, and take the time, lots of time, to watch them work, really watch them in action. There is so much you can learn there!

There’s a list below, links to articles to help you prepare to win. These are a great place to help get you to the place where you can know the thrill of being a winning owner handler. (Oh, and also “Google It” for yourself, there’s so much more information out there, I’ve only picked a few.)

Finally, go to dog shows to watch and observe. Spend hours watching the grooming, various random breed classes, the Groups etc., paying close attention to the pro’s and those winning owner handlers! Best use of your time and classroom setting ever!

good sport
Photo by Bob Segal

Win or Lose never forget BE A GOOD SPORT!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photo by Bob Segal from GSCA National Specialty 2014

Owner Handler Advice

Video link: Want to Win Best in Show as an Owner Handler?

Looking Back with Lee – Pro Handlers vs. Owner-Handlers – being an Owner-Handler is not a DEATH SENTENCE! 

 

Raw Chicken Linked to Paralysis in Dogs

Feature photo by Bob Segal

Raw Chicken Linked to Paralysis in Dogs

By Dr Nerissa Hannink, University of Melbourne

Chicken necks are a common treat for dogs, but pet owners are being warned they have been linked with a potentially fatal form of paralysis.

 

As pet ownership increases across the world, our furry (as well as feathered and scaly) friends have become firmly established members of the family.

Wanting the best for our pets, we often offer special treats, and chicken necks are a favourite in many families – often considered a ‘healthy’ option.

But vets are warning raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, can lead to a debilitating and potentially fatal form of paralysis in dogs.

new study, led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat increases the risk of dogs developing a paralysing condition called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.

Dr Matthias le Chevoir, chief investigator on the project, says the cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time.

“It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak. It can then progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face. Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralysed,” he says.

“Most dogs eventually recover without treatment but it may take up to six months or more in some cases.

“In our clinic alone we see around 30 cases per year and around three in ten cases would not recover. Watching your pet suffer is obviously very distressing and it can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet if the condition can gradually improve.”

Paralysis results from the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.

APN is the canine counterpart of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans, a condition that also causes muscle weakness and may require ventilation if chest muscles are affected.

Dr le Chevoir says the bacteria Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients. It may be present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water.

“Our team at U-Vet Animal Hospital wanted to understand if consuming raw chicken could also be triggering APN in dogs. Many of us have previously worked overseas and know that a raw meat diet is less common there, so we were intrigued by this potential connection,” Dr le Chevoir says.

The team studied 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without, examining physical symptoms and interviewing the owners about recent behaviours and diet; focusing on the consumption of raw chicken meat.

Faecal samples collected within seven days of the presentation of clinical signs (such as changes in voice, hind limb weakness or a choppy gait) showed the dogs with APN were 9.4 times more likely to have had a Campylobacter infection than the control group without the disease.

“The microbe Campylobacter is likely to be the reason for the dysregulation of the dogs’ immunity and the symptoms of paralysis,” lead author Dr Lorena Martinez-Antòn says.

“These bacteriological results were consistent with the hypothesis that the uncooked chicken meat was the source of the Campylobacter and as a result, triggered APN.”

In humans, scientists think Campylobacter, which is most commonly found in commercial poultry products, contains molecules similar in structure to part of the nerve cell. This similarity confuses the immune system, which attacks the body’s own nerves, resulting in paralysis.

Dr Martinez-Antòn and Dr le Chevoir say there appears to be a growing trend for feeding dogs raw meat diets, which is concerning given the risks.

“A significant association is also found between APN and smaller dog breeds. Based on our clinical experience this seems to be because smaller dogs are more likely to be fed smaller bones like chicken necks,” the doctors say in the research paper.

“We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition.”

E.D. This content was altered to remove the photos and video links supplied in the original publication. All other content of the article is retained in it’s entirity. 

Where Have All The Show Dogs Gone?

I received this article from Gail Clark who asked me to share it with you. Understanding there are many opinions among conformation exhibitors about the causes for the declining entries at AKC events, and knowing the importance of being open to dialog on all the perceived issues, I decided to do just that, publish this for you.

I have a deep respect for professional handlers, love the folks I’ve hired over the years, and being afflicted with Fibromyalgia, I really, really need them. I cannot run to show my Gordons because of pain. Without a handler to show my entry, I would not be able to participate in a sport I’ve loved for over 45 years.

Many of the  breeders/exhibitors who are in the game today, have aged just like me, to the place where they too hand their dog over to a pro with younger legs. I believe this aging exhibitor base has had some impact on the increased number of handlers in the rings, and I also believe that judges must give the owner handled dogs equal consideration to the professionally handled. Otherwise, entries will continue to decline, and there, along with the entry, goes another chunk of the gene pool. By no means however, do I suspect or imagine, every time a professionally handled dog wins, that it is because the judge was political. One must also be able to appreciate the quality of another exhibitor’s entry when applicable. But, that is another sticky wicket, for discussion on another day!

E.D. NOTE:  This article strictly represents the opinion of the Authors. Since the perception of politics is certainly real in the minds of many, I have decided to print what was sent for your review. Most (rational) well-meaning views are welcome here so feel free to share and discuss in the comment section at the end.  Sally 

Where Have All the Show Dogs Gone? 

by Jim Tomsk, AKC Judge and Gail Clark, PH.D, Canine Behavioral Psychologist 

Originally published in Dog News July 11, 2014 in the column The Judge Speaks.

Where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? Where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? Gone to other playing fields one and all!

As the economy has declined and the cost of living and travel expenses have risen, the presence of Professional Handlers (PH) increased two-fold in the AKC class competition for championship points. Popular PH are walking into the ring and winning with puppies that can barely keep four on the floor and adult dogs that have been repeatedly shown by their breeder/owner/handler without earning points. Can this sudden success by the PH be a coincidence? Was the puppy’s structure so outstanding that the judge could imagine flawless movement as an adult? Did the veteran show dog, who was never able to earn a major, suddenly blossom? Some blame politics for this interesting coincidence, and others, mostly judges, rationalize that top PH only show quality dog clients and have the experience to superbly present a dog in a way that minimizes their faults. When money and clients were plentiful, and PH only dominated the Best of Breed class, the PH were more discriminating in the clients they chose. In our depressed economy, PH must either cut costs or increase business to maintain their income, so choosing only the top quality dogs to show may be a luxury of the past.

Breeders are also looking to cut costs, and hiring the biggest name in professional handling to finish a championship in a few shows on a dog that hasn’t been winning is a win-win situation for both PH and breeder. Unfortunately, what may be a win for the PH and breeder may be a serious disservice to future generations of our breeds. When championship points are awarded because of who is showing rather than the merits and quality of the dog, future generations will inherit the faults so expertly disguised. Breeders produce their breeding stock from show winners. The PH who dazzled the judge with a superb presentation will be long forgotten and the faults will live on. Choosing the winning dogs based on the pH who is hired to help, and not committed to the advancement of the client’s breed, can often propagate changes in the breed that may not be easily repaired. For example, when judges chose the larger specimens for the Winners Circle, breeders will follow the current winning trend and larger dogs are bred for the show ring. The trend for the larger dog in many breeds generally does not maximize function and structural health. Judging the wrong end of the lead is committing a very serious injustice to the purebred dog.

The world of AKC dog shows, as we have known it for over 100 years has changed. At one time, the AKC was the only game in town for prestigious Championships. As more breeders realize AKC Championships can be bought with the right PH, the AKC title is becoming less prestigious and coveted. The purist and traditionalist breeder/owner/handlers are leaving AKC competition in search of more equitable venues like the UKC, where PH are excluded unless they are showing their own dogs. Until now, the UKC, International Dog shows, and our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, which hire the same AKC approved judges for their shows, have not been serious rivals to the AKC. These days, those who want Champion lines find puppies for sale with UKC, CKC, and International Dog Show Champion parents. The majority of the general public puppy buyers no longer care if their puppy’s parents are AKC Champions. As the breeders leave AKC competition, they don’t promote AKC Champions in their lines.

There was a time, not too long ago, when PH were primarily hired for the Best of Breed/Group rings, and a breeder/owner/handler who brought a quality dog to the ring was serious competition for the PH, even in the Group arena. Class competitors were, for the most part, equally unknown to the judges, and the dogs were typically judges on their own merits, not the handler on the end of the lead. Today, even with higher quality dogs, breeder/owner/handlers are, more often than not, simply point fodder for the PH. As the number of PH increased in the classes, breeder/owner/handlers have done the math and determined that competing against the familiar face that shows up at all the best dog shows in town, winning under the same judges, was financially unfeasible.

The AKC is feeling the financial strain as many exhibitors realize the futility of showing in an increasingly political playing field. New registrations in the AKC are declining with the number of breeder/owner/handlers leaving the show arena. Breed clubs are having difficulty breaking even financially with holding AKC breed shows because of the drop in exhibitors over the last several years. In addition, the AKC is moving in the wrong direction for their financial health by endorsing PH with badges they may wear in the ring to identify themselves to the judge.

The AKC and the conformation judges seem to think that throwing dedicated breeder/owner/handlers an occasional bone will keep them coming back for more. In their efforts to recover from the financial impact of the economy and decreasing entries and registrations, the AKC has exacerbated the problem by not supporting the breeder/owner/handlers, the faction that makes up most of the AKC’s entries and registrations. Instead, the AKC decided to even the playing field for more sport, by introducing the Amateur Owner Class.

What was the AKC thinking?  The AKC should have added a Professional Class instead of an Amateur Owner Class. In this scenario, PH would be restricted to the Professional class or the Best of Breed Class. The new playing field would consist of one PH in the Winners class competing against all the class winners that were chosen on their merits. For those judges who continued to judge the PH and reward presentation over merit, the records would reflect their preferences by the wins from the PH class, and then breeder/owner/handlers could choose which shows and judges were financially feasible to enter under instead of quitting over the politics.

And then comes another AKC bone to the breeder/owner/handler. If the breeder/owner/handler can’t compete with PH for Best of Breed, how about the “Grand Champion” (GCH) program, which generated a renewed income stream to the AKC, superintendents, and clubs. Exhibitors might compete for a GCH once, and some might compete for a GCH again, but eventually they wake up and wonder what a GCH title actually represents.  If a GCH can be awarded the title without ever winning Best of Breed, the GSC is a champion of whom? The GCH appears to be another meaningless title or gimmick for the AKC to fund it’s financial dilemma through the breeder/owner/handler. The latest AKC attempt to appease the breeder/owner/handler is the AKC National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS).  While potentially a good idea, the system is so confusing that after over two years of offering the series, show giving clubs are still struggling to administer it correctly, and many have decided to not even offer it at their shows. The AKC has promoted a national rating system for the NOHS, but since it is not being offered at all shows, it puts many breeder/owner/handlers who would like to compete nationally at a distinct disadvantage. To top it off, many PH (as defined by AKC) are still exhibiting in the series and the AKC expects the EXHIBITORS to police the series concerning these individuals.

Nothing that the AKC has presented to-date will have a lasting, positive impact on the sport as much as conformation judges doing an honest and unbiased evaluation in the ring. ALL exhibitors pay their hard-earned money for a judge’s unbiased opinion, and deserve nothing less. It is the judge’s responsibility to sift through the entry and select the best dog, not the best mannered, the best handled, or an old friend. The future of our AKC dogs is dependent on unbiased judging and honest evaluations based on the quality of our stock, not who is on the end of the lead.

Poor decisions by both the AKC and conformation judges are driving dedicated breeder/owner/handlers away from the sport in droves. Unless the AKC wakes up and becomes committed to creating an environment that supports the breeder/owner/handlers that generate most of the AKC registrations and entries, other venues such as the UKC will become a strong force as an alternative to the AKC. The AKC must realize that as breeder/owner/handlers disappear, so does the sport.

So, where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? So, where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? If the sport is to survive and thrive, major changes need to be made: not just bogus titles or another silly class that are nothing more than an insult to the intelligent, dedicated breeder/owner/handlers. The AKC has changed its philosophy and is allowing non-purebred dogs to compete in companion events. Perhaps it is time for the AKC to offer separate, independent, competitions (all-breed shows) for breeder/owner/handlers and PH. If it is not to late.

 

Let’s Talk Linebreeding

Gordon Setter Expert

“One of the most bandied about terms among breeders today seems to be linebreeding. Despite it’s widespread use, however, linebreeding is frequently misunderstood and miscommunicated; in fact, it is not altogether uncommon for an outcrossed pedigree to be mistakenly viewed as linebreeding by the novice. The present discussion defines linebreeding and how we can more accurately define our linebred litters.”

From – “Let’s Talk Linebreeding” written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. published in ‘Tally Ho’ the Basset Club of America Newsletter (July-August ’97). The online article may be found by clicking here.

(While this article was written with the Basset Hound breeder in mind, one can change the name to  Gordon Setter, or any breed for that matter, as the material is “one size fits all” when it comes to the topic of breeding.)

Linebreeding and Inbreeding: A Family Affair

Inbreeding and Linebreeding involve…

View original post 1,119 more words

Show Day Prep for Setters

From pro-handler Will Alexander a You Tube video chock full of tips about prepping your Setter for the ring on show day. While Will is working on an English Setter in this video, his tips for brushing and grooming are fantastic and will help make your dog look like a million bucks!  Will’s posted many more tips and tricks on You Tube for those who seek more, check it out! Thank you Will for this fabulous site.

Will has graciously shared many more tips and tricks on his website, find them all here: Will Alexander tips for showing dogs

We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.

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