by Dorothy Kendall, Orlane Lhasa Apsos
(First published in the Lhasa Apso Reporter, 1993)
It's hard for me to understand the need for power that seems to run
rampant in so many exhibitors in the world of the dog show ring. You
must have noticed it ... some people need to have "their"
judges at the shows; "their" people running the breed clubs,
and "their" satellite breeders under their thumb!
What causes this need for absolute control ... we see
it in politics, and I can understand this to some degree - control in
the political arena means big bucks in lots of pockets, and everyone
wants to get their slice of the pie.
In our tiny world of Dog Shows, however, the "bucks"
aren't that big, and those who attempt this control usually are well
fleshed out in cash to begin with so it can't be for monetary gain.
What is it that drives some people to make sure their dogs are number
one? We all love our dogs, and hope for the great one that comes along
and stuns everyone with his/her absolute perfection and beauty ... in
our dream world, this dog will pile up win after win under knowledgeable
judges and win acclaim from all the breeders.
Because we love our dogs, we want them to be good (kind
of like our kids, whose reflected beauty lights up our lives), and we
tend to overlook their minor faults and see only those qualities which
make them so worthy of being stars. When other people refuse to "see"
these qualities, most of us shrug our shoulders, take another look at
our doggy kids, and go back to the drawing board more determined than
ever to come with an even better star.
Some people are not content with this ... they are
satisfied that the quality of their dogs is superior, period. When they
don't win, it's because the judge is political - therefore they will
get their own political judges who will judge in their favor. How do
you go about "getting" a judge in your pocket, so to speak?
Judges being human are susceptible to flattery and may not always question
motives, since they feel being asked to officiate at a big specialty
only reflects the good taste of the "askee". Most judges are
good guys, who want to do a creditable job of judging in the ring ...
and they would be horrified at the idea that someone is trying to "use"
them. This is a delicate situation requiring finesse, savvy and real
smooth touch ... but we have people up to the task, believe me!
What I can't understand is, when the dust has settled
and bodies have been counted, what has the battle been about? Sure you
got the judge that put up your dog, you got the win, and you're already
planning future shows. Can you now sit back and bask in the accolades
of your selected circle of friends? Isn't there a slight nagging doubt
at the back of the your mind that wonders if anyone knows what pressures
were brought to bear, and how dogs were altered to meet or beat the
competition? Do you really think people don't know, or isn't that even
a consideration in your mind, and if not - why not?
One has to consider the dogs themselves in all of this,
and what we are doing to them for our own personal gratification. There
are many tools available to us today, like the old cliche - "little
dabs of powder, little pots of paint, make these modern women look like
what they ain't!" When we struggle and work so hard to combine
those dogs that epitomize what we want, and "almost" get that
star, can we alleviate our frustrations by altering the temperament
and look of the dog artificially? AKC says no, but exhibitors say "YES"
- and the judges say "HUH?" Is this the purpose of the battle,
to make our dogs up artificially - then to change the Standard to fit
what we have made, and influence the judges to put the final seal of
approval on the whole thing? We have even heard a very well known judge
telling us we must overlook some cosmetic changes for the good of their
I still have to ask, why? What happened to the choice
to accept the challenge on even ground, no knife hidden in the boot,
no lead weights in the glove, no cheating, period - just the decision
to do your best, and satisfaction of knowing that whatever happens,
you can hold your head up and look people in the eye. Doesn't this attitude
count anymore, or is winning really the "only" thing?
I'd like to end by pointing out one thing that may
be overlooked ... while the record books may illuminate the great wins
for years to come, the rest of the story is told in thousands of pet
homes where our show "rejects" wind up to spend the rest of
their lives - do they speak well for our breed on the whole? Are they
beautiful, but riddled with health and temperament problems that make
them a disaster to live with? Will future breeders curse us and struggle
with problems we've created in our blind rush to be the big winner?
Puttin' in the fix may be just another way of putting another nail in
the coffin of our beloved breed. Think about it.