Puttin' in the FIX!
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 breed!

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.