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Spring Forward – Brighter Days

OVER here it’s quite a significant weekend coming up. Our clocks go forward on Sunday morning giving us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings and we also see the first single group championship show of the year in the form of UK Toy – so all-in-all that must mean that spring is here at last and it’s an end to a damp miserable winter.

There are those of us of course who hope that the changing seasons – and brightening of the mood and attitude that comes with the better weather – will act as some kind of metaphor for the world of dog showing.

As exhibitors prepare themselves for another year’s campaigning, of traveling up and down the country’s motorways in pursuit of that final CC needed for their dog to become a champion, or for their new puppy to have its first win. In general, most will be hoping that the season ahead brings a great deal of enjoyment, to offset the competitive pressures and expenses involved. After all, dog showing is still a hobby and if it doesn’t fulfill that most basic of requirements then what would be the point?

It seems that a large proportion of the dog showing fancy over the last few years have been asking themselves if they are still getting a significant measure of enjoyment from their hobby, as a result entries over here have been dropping just as they have in the US. It coincided of course with one of the worst periods of economic turmoil in living memory and people had to look closely at how they spent their hard-earned money. But we are told, by those who profess to know, that the economy is improving and I think it’s fair to say that we have been noticing an improvement over recent months so it seems there is genuinely something in that. Let’s hope, therefore, that this brings with it a new sense of optimism, and there is a little bit of faith that the grumbles and complaints made to the Kennel Club, the show organisers, the judges, and indeed the exhibitors, have been listened to, paid attention to, and efforts put in place to address them. Early signs from Boston, Manchester and Crufts are looking good.

Adaptation is a necessity of modern life and it is expected that those in charge will adapt to the economic climate and to the pervasive mood of the exhibitors to keep the show scene alive. It is also expected that exhibitors will do their bit, applying their knowledge and experience where needed to help the changes along.

We live in a world which, at all levels, is being picked over in detail. As the world of pedigree dogs is further scrutinised by the wider public, and various governing bodies look to put their stamp on the future of dogs as a whole in the UK, it’s more important than ever that dog owners adapt to the ever-increasing expectations of ownership. Not a week goes by these days without a new canine related scientific study being published, or a new DNA test being approved for a particular breed or a new health study looking for participants. If you are going to be a conscientious dog owner these days it would seem at least a basic knowledge of genetics is required.

It must be the pedigree dog owner who leads the way when it comes to the health of their pets, and all the scientific tools now available, such as the new estimated breeding values for hip and elbow dysplasia launched by the KC at Crufts, can only enhance this considered and proactive approach to ownership. Eradicating disease and poor construction from our dogs is never going to be easy and it will take a whole breed to come together, in partnership with the scientists, to make progress. If you are not keen on change, you’re going to be outnumbered – the quest for a healthier dog will forever be synonymous with this decade and it’s important that owners of pedigree dogs come out in front… and teach.

Dog owners who fail in their responsibilities can no longer hide; all forms of canine abuse are reported in DOG WORLD and the wider media almost weekly. A tragic spate of ‘dog attacks’ have hit the headlines in the last few months and the Government is poised to implement changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act – as reported in the newspaper and on our website last week – to try and protect the public, although these measures seem unlikely to prevent further attacks occurring.

A recent TV programme on this emotive subject was aired last Thursday and only served to highlight the gulf between our ideals for a conscientious dog-owning society in the UK and the reality, which is why it is so important that those who breed and show pedigree dogs, who spend the greater part of their lives in pursuit of such ideals, do their best to act in an exemplary manner.

There is still much to be done, and a few obvious holes that need to be plugged, to keep the show scene healthy but in general it does seem that we have moved forward in not only recognising that change needs to occur but, crucially, actually investing our time and resources into making it happen.

As the clocks go forward this weekend, we hope that that it’s a sign that our hobby is moving forward too.

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