Judging – More about German Shepherd Dogs

Animal Care College – caring for people caring for animals


In the near twenty years I have been writing articles none other than my video about Pedigree Dogs Exposed* (over 15,000 viewings and over 400 hundred comments) has generated as much heat as my recent article on German Shepherd Dogs which has been read 300 times and generated 60 comments.  This is over and above anyone who read the article when it was published in Our Dogs in early January and demonstrates not just people’s enthusiasm and commitment for breed by those deeply involved, but what can only be described as their ‘passion’.  I am great believer in passion.  Balzac said, ‘Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless,’ and Anthony Robins, one of the world’s most successful motivational speakers and management gurus, said ‘Passion is the genesis of genius’.  We will return to Anthony Robbins later but first I must bring us down to earth and point out that passion may be one of the most powerful emotions which drives humanity but it cannot be denied that it does not always steer it in the right direction.

The Kennel Club is made up of people who are, mostly, passionate about dogs.  Although some might say they that many are more passionate about power, my experience is that it is the love of, and commitment to, dogs which is members’ over-riding concern and sentiment.  Unfortunately, bureaucracy tends to mask enthusiasm so the KC usually comes across as pretty soulless.  They have to cover every media, government, charity, scientific base in anything they say and do where as you and I can more or less say what we like and ignore the consequences.

The comments on my GSD article are an excellent case in point.  Many good and sensible points are made but they almost always address narrow issues and take little account of what would happen in the wider world were their ideas to be adopted wholesale.  To counter this, the KC has published a press release (as reported elsewhere in Our Dogs this week) which tries to put everything in perspective.  Unfortunately it may not help – after all everything in it has been said before to little avail.  I know how they feel because although I am occasionally deliberately provocative: ‘putting matters in perspective’ has been what I have always tried to do.   But if you try to steer a middle course there is a tendency for both ‘sides’ to make the assumption that as you are not on ‘theirs,’ you must be with the ‘others’!  This is almost never the case but there is a considerable amount of sociological research indicating that whenever one ‘takes a stand’ on an issue and particularly if you are not prepared to compromise, the consequence is to drive everyone who might have some sympathy into another, alternative corner.

The other problem with ‘passion’ is that it tends to feed off the emotional side of our brains rather the logical, reasonable and dispassionate areas.   The result is that a fog descends and it often becomes impossible to come to a rational view.  At worst this results in dictatorships and ethnic cleansing and at best rifts between those who once were friends – but there is good news.  We may be becoming more civilised

The initial discussions on GSDs on my web log took a series of what appeared to be entrenched and disparate positions but over the past week or so the tone has changed and there have genuine attempts to understand other points of view.  Jemima Harrison, John Leadbeater and David Payne have all made contributions which, although not conceding a great deal have nevertheless acknowledged that some of what the others have been saying has merit.  You will not be surprised to learn that David and Jemima have somewhat similar views on the Kennel Club and I see that fact that each can recognise that there are some points of agreement has to be a good thing.  What is just as interesting is that discussion has been conducted in a rational and reasonable manner.  The parties certainly disagree but the very fact that they and others are prepared to put their names to their views and do not hide behind ‘user names’, improves the quality of the posts.

I have been delighted at much of the discussion and this brings me back to Anthony Robins.  One of things he emphasises is that, ‘Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers’.  I hope in these articles I ask the right questions (I certainly think I did about German Shepherd Dogs) and I think Jemima, for all the distortions she edited into her programme, asked the right questions too.  Had she not done so, the damage to our world would have been very much less so we would have been allowed to remain in our comfortable cocoon.  As things stand, distasteful or not, the programme triggered an unprecedented acceleration of progress within Clarges Street’s hallowed portals.  The last eighteen months or so may have been uncomfortable and some may have felt pilloried (and threatened too) but change is uncomfortable – and progress cannot be made without change.

Be passionate – but ask the right questions. It might be more effective if the Kennel Club took part in these discussions rather than sending out more press releases.

*You can see and hear my talk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njPsECODIBs or log onto You Tube and search for Pedigree dogs exposed Exposed!

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