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  #171  
Old 03-16-2012, 08:12 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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The two sides are quite separate; a breed can have very moderate conformation and be plagued by serious inherited disease issues, such as the Cavalier, or it can be relatively healthy in terms of invisible problems and yet have clear issues with some aspect of its body structure. This high-profile breed scheme is a hugely important step towards reducing the problems associated with extreme conformation. Nobody ever said, "Oh good, I***8217;ve produced a puppy which is going to suffer pain as a result of the body shape I chose!***8221;, but it***8217;s all too easy to overlook chronic low-level discomfort, and I think it***8217;s undeniable that some breeds are associated with issues of this kind.

Dogs that have always had exposed, irritated inner eyelids aren***8217;t going to scream with pain or stop eating because their eyes hurt; they don***8217;t know any differently, but surely the same dog would have a better quality of life if its eyelids fitted better to the eyeballs. It must be better to be a Pug who can chase its friends in the park than to be a Pug that struggles to walk along a path. Surely these things are not in dispute, or they shouldn***8217;t be.

The brief that Will Jeffels and I were given by the KC was very clear: we were not meant to assess conformation in the same way as a judge would, and we were not meant to penalise a dog because of any aspect of its shape or structure, unless we felt that attribute had led to a problem with its health or welfare. So we couldn***8217;t reject a dog just because it had a short face or lots of skin folds, for example, or because we didn***8217;t like the way it moved; only if it had trouble breathing, or a skin infection, or was lame, as a result of its structure.

We were chosen to do this, rather than specialist vets, because Steve Dean thought it would be unfair for judges to be over- ruled by, for example, specialist ophthalmologists, because they might notice things that no judge could be expected to see. He thought that experienced general practitioners would know what***8217;s normal and what isn***8217;t ***8211; we earn our livings doing it ***8211; and would be able to see obvious problems that a judge could also see.

The KC told us exactly what they wanted us to do, and then left us to go and do it. They did not try to influence our decisions in any way. We could have passed ***8211; or failed ***8211; any or all of the 15 dogs quite freely. It is sad that some dogs failed, but I think it shows that there is a need for this scheme: if we had been assessing a group of Borzois or Cairns or Dalmatians I don***8217;t think any would have failed.

Obviously, I am bound by professional confidentiality and cannot comment on any of the dogs I examined. The owners are not so bound and I would be happy for any of the owners of the dogs I examined to make public the form I signed, in its entirety. I wrote several comments on most of them, and many of the comments I wrote were positive, even on dogs I failed. I have enormous sympathy for the owners of the dogs that were failed. It must have been disappointing, embarrassing and humiliating, and it gave me no pleasure at all to do it.

There are several general points from the examination process, however, which I think are worth emphasising. Firstly, there are many possible reasons for failure. Some of them may be temporary: lameness, for example, may have gone by the next day, but one fundamental rule of veterinary certification is that you can only attest to what you see before you at that moment; you cannot speculate on what the animal might have looked like five minutes earlier or five minutes later. Also, as with judging, there may be problems that are found on close examination of a dog that would not be visible from the ringside.

Secondly, it***8217;s obvious from the photographs on the Internet that some of the BOB winners which failed were indeed of more moderate conformation than some other dogs within that breed. It must have been particularly galling for those owners to fail. However, we weren***8217;t being asked to judge whether a particular dog was better than the breed average; we only examined the winner, and if the winner still had a problem that affected its welfare on that day, our task was to say so. If it displayed the least extreme conformation in its breed, then the judge had done the best job they could from the stock available, whatever the end result; and if the winner showed far more moderate conformation than would have been the case a few years ago, then that is still to be praised, even if there was still a problem.

One thing that I am angry about is that the media coverage is focused so exclusively on the dogs who unfortunately failed. I wish there were more attention on the dogs that were passed. Nine dogs were judged the best of their breed, passed as free from issues that were affecting their health and welfare, and went on to compete in their groups, with several being shortlisted by the group judges. Those breeds should be enormously proud of what they have achieved, because in many cases the winners were indeed of far less exaggerated conformation than they would have been a few years ago, which is a great cause for celebration.

Those breeders have done wonders. For example, even Jemima Harrison has written positively about the winning Bloodhound on her blog, which is remarkable. I was really glad to see ***8216;my***8217; Bloodhound in the big ring, moving soundly and with eyes free from discomfort. That***8217;s what it should all be about.

It***8217;s natural that emotions should be running high; change is often difficult. And it***8217;s inevitable that there will be teething problems in a new and unprecedented process. Everyone who was involved in this endeavour will have learnt from it, and certainly there are some aspects of it that can be improved. Will Jeffels and I strongly feel that the initiative is worthwhile, and we are continuing to support the KC in its efforts to promote healthier conformation.

Dog showing is a sport, a hobby. The world would still spin on its axis if there were no dog shows. If we choose to spend our leisure time, or in some cases our careers, in the world of dog showing, we should remember that we wouldn***8217;t be able to do it without the dogs, and the least we can do in return is to choose healthy body shapes for them to live their lives within."
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  #172  
Old 03-16-2012, 08:29 PM
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That was a good read. She made very good points, and I agree with her that the media focused too much on the failed dogs and not enough on the successes of those that passed. There was more to be celebrated than not.
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  #173  
Old 03-16-2012, 09:11 PM
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Thanks for posting that Lizzy
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  #174  
Old 03-16-2012, 09:15 PM
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Thanks, lizzy!
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  #175  
Old 03-17-2012, 08:26 AM
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this is making the rounds on my facebook.
http://dogknobit.com/2012/03/15/why-...ould-worry-us/

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  #176  
Old 03-17-2012, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Kat09Tails View Post
this is making the rounds on my facebook.
http://dogknobit.com/2012/03/15/why-...ould-worry-us/

Le sigh
Yeah I especially love the end on that one
"As my children were growing up, I used to tell them that they had better learn the lessons I was teaching them because I was teaching them those lessons with love. If my kids didnít learn, the world would teach them the same lessons but not give a whit about their feelings or self esteem. I suspect this is where we are now. While we were minding our own business, the AR bunch was sucker punching us. How long do we keep taking the hits?"
Soooo what you're saying is that you (plural) weren't paying attention back when the lesson could have been learned relatively painlessly so now the world is driving it home to you instead? When you could have prevented it all along by taking it seriously from the beginning and learning along the way?

Me thinks this metaphor isn't saying what they meant to say. But, ironically, is actually remarkably accurate.
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  #177  
Old 03-17-2012, 09:17 AM
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Last article for the day I promise.... As my grandmother would say it takes all kinds :P
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...=feeds-newsxml
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  #178  
Old 03-17-2012, 11:53 AM
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It's so easy to blame animal rights extremists for this.

Sorry, lady, the animal welfare advocates, who respect the enjoyment of dog showing and don't want it all abolished, are also just fine with a dog having to be healthy to be able to properly represent its breed.
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  #179  
Old 03-17-2012, 12:25 PM
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It's so easy to blame the ARists. Too easy. When in doubt point fingers at extremists no one wants to be grouped with. Sorry people, but being able to see that these dogs are unhealthy, being able to see something needs to be done and watching the people that are in the breed do NOTHING does not make you an animal right activist, it makes you a dog lover.

Seriously though, they need to stop putting out these articles because all they do is convince me more of how much they are in denial, that they are way to close to the issue and can't see the forest for the trees.

And no, sorry but dogs that look like something that might resemble a pit bull being killed in droves is NOT comparable to a selected few breeds in a HOBBY 'SPORT' having their health checked. This is not something you are forced to do. This is not something that is life or death. This is a dog show.

And I was never under the impression that conformation was for the dogs but I am so incredibly saddened by how the people shouting the loudest against this move by the KC don't mention the dogs. They talk about the judges, they talk about the breeders, they talk about the emotions and heartbreak. They never mention the dogs and I find that to be the most telling thing of all.

Would I love to see this for all the breeds? Heck yes! And I really hope that will come but until then, for a first step picking the breeds that are the unhealthiest it was a good one. And once again, these dogs were not failed because they are exaggerated (or not as the case may be) but because they didn't pass the vet check. The vet was not checking conformation, the vet was not deciding if the rear angulation of the GSD was extreme. The vet was checking the health. And their dogs couldn't pass. The. End.
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  #180  
Old 03-17-2012, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linds View Post
The vet was not checking conformation, the vet was not deciding if the rear angulation of the GSD was extreme. The vet was checking the health. And their dogs couldn't pass. The. End.
Yep, I think that's a critical point. The vet was not looking at the angulation of the GSD, but rather its movement. If, as a result of extreme angulation, the dog was ataxic, then it would have been disqualified - because it was ataxic, not because it was over-angulated. It seems pretty clear the vets knew they were not their to judge conformation.
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