Why I Have Chosen to Join a Kennel Club


My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.

Why would a  person who doesn’t have a dog to show join a kennel club?  Good question!    It’s not  like I don’t have enough on my plate.  It’s because I want to support …purebred dogs.

At one time, I did have a dog to show, and  I was a member of  kennel club to meet  others who had dogs to show, possibly to network to expand my  dog grooming business, and to learn more about dogs.  I was a member  of the Goldcoast Kennel Club for several years, but a  lot  of life events, including divorce, moving, and  going to graduate school  made me lose interest.

I first became interested in showing dogs when I was learning about  breeds and  what breeders look for in making their dogs into champions.  My first ‘show’ dog, an Afghan Hound, wasn’t really a show dog, but I didn’t know that.   I was only  12  when I got him. He had a magnificent pedigree.  This is how I learned that you don’t breed pedigrees…you breed dogs.

My first dog show was the Skokie Valley Kennel Club show in October, 1967. I entered my young dog in Novice, as we were both novices, and he was  just over a year old.  He got a blue ribbon (he was the only dog in his class) and my mother had it framed.  I still have it.  He never became a champion, but I was learning.

About a yer after getting the Afghan, we got a Miniature Schnauzer from a very well known Schnauzer breeder. This breeder taught me how to hand strip a dog.  He also didn’t turn out as I had hoped, but I was still learning.

I became active in a breed club:  The Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago.  This was in the 1970s, and Afghan Hounds suddenly got popular because of the culture of the time.  We’d have educational programs at meetings, but mostly what we did at meetings was plan matches and dog shows.  Our events were well attended.  I thought my fellow club members were all dog lovers, but what I learned was that, when push came to shove, not all of us were on the same page. This was because I was very interested in  Afghan Rescue.  Some breeders  took their dogs back if they sold them to people who decided they did not want the dog any more, but more were really backyard breeders…hoping to play the dog show game on a grand scale, but not willing to be responsible for all the dogs they bred.  One member  actually said to me, “If you sell a toaster, and the  buyer decides he doesn’t want it anymore, you don’t take it back, do you?”   I saw the mindset of  many people who were breeding dogs, making some money, but not caring about the dogs they bred.  This shocked and demoralized me.

I got involved in lure coursing, and  my dog turned out to be amazing at it, but the club was ambivalent, and my interests drifted to other areas.

So now this is about 40 years later, and I am  a witness to  the end of purebred dogs.  There are several factors  affecting  dynamics.  The ‘fancy’—that is, the people who were breeding dogs, are aging out.Their kids never were really interested.  It costs too much.  Our costs of living went up exponentially, we  had the ‘great recession’ when  not just the  real estate industry collapsed, but those fiduciaries (LOL) we trusted with out savings invested in smoke and mirrors, and a lot of people lost a lot of money.  Also, partly due to the internet, and partly due to us training most veterinarians as ‘agricultural veterinarians’  mixed breeds and ‘rescues’ are more popular than purebred dogs.  We’ve all heard, “Don’t shop, adopt,”  never mind that backyard breeders bred all the dogs & cats abandoned in shelters.  And the whole ‘hybrid vigor’ excuse for breeding a Poodle to just about any other breed.

I’d hate to have the fancy die out.  While my breed (Whippets) are not really in trouble, there are many ‘rare ‘ breeds without a gene pool, and some very popular breeds—-like French Bulldogs, Cockers and Bichon Frise with horrible genetic issues and most of their gene pools  consisting of puppy mill bred dogs—-bred as livestock to sell.

As someone who doesn’t breed dogs…what can I possibly  do to ‘add value’ to the sport of dogs?We can find more ways to  make entry fees cheaper, or find ways to  include more pet owners.  We can  offer more  activities and opportunities to compete, and we can  do more to educate the public about why we care for the breeds we love, and why planned breeding  not only makes future generations of dogs more genetically sound, but  addresses the unwanted pet problem.

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