Breeders Choice or Breeders NoChoice…What a Choice!

I have joined a new group on Facebook which is called Breeders Choice. I am interested in anything regarding Australian Terriers (almost) and I already know most of the people that are in the group and also know that they are a wonderful group of people. This is the nice thing about Facebook. If you don’t like a person you can just “zap” them and they no longer exist for you, you don’t have to worry how they are going to take things or hear their opinions. I do worry how my friends take things I say and I do listen to their opinions but luckily, since they are my friends, their opinions are usually quite similar to mine.
If I understand correctly, this group is mostly concerned with being able to show their dogs in AKC events without having to surgically alter their tails or remove their dewclaws. According to the Australian Terrier Club of America you cannot do this without getting penalized. Which means, in effect, that an undocked dog can be as good as a docked dog and lose just because it is docked.
The American Kennel Club consists of many breed clubs. Each breed that is shown and is recognized by the AKC had a club which developed a “standard” for their breed and which had the AKC approve that standard. It actually is quite a hard task and big deal to get a breed accepted into the AKC and to develop a standard that the entire (or at least the majority) of the breed club approves and that is then approved by the AKC. Sometimes it takes years and years because when starting to be recognized by the AKC it is hard to have all the dogs of that breed look alike. For instance, in the southeast they may have broader shoulders and in the north east they may have longer hair and in the Midwest they may have flatter feet, etc. etc. etc. and the people of the club must all come together and decide which characteristic is best for the dogs to be able to perform their reasons for being. Most of these standards were developed years ago when the dogs worked for a living. I’m not saying that there are not any more dogs that work for a living but the standard states what their purpose was/is. I just watched a special on TV about Siberian trappers and they actually rely on their dogs to keep them alive in the wilderness at times.
Most standards, though, are obsolete because of changing times (such as real fox hunting). Still, in order to keep the breeds as close to their purpose as possible, the standard is used by breeders when they or AKC judges evaluate their dogs and their dogs are bred in accordance with and try to get closer to that one perfect dog that absolutely matches the standard. However, in getting a shorter back, for instance, you may breed with a shorter backed dog but that dog has longer legs so you end up with a shorter back but too long legs! Very frustrating.
Now we get to “Breeder’s Choice”. I believe that what the Facebook group wants is just to be able to let their dog’s tails and dewclaws be natural and to not be penalized in the show ring by the judges or their fellow exhibitors that are judging the dogs. This is an excellent start in having the people in the breed club realize that there is nothing wrong with having a natural tail – it is just a deviation from the standard at the moment and MAYBE, our group hopes, will be the standard. The more people that want that to be, the more chance that there will be that the Australian Terrier Club of America will put forth an effort to change their standard and to get the changes approved by the American Kennel Club. After all, docked tails are outlawed in Europe already.
However, where does it stop? Breeders Choice. Does this mean that if some breeders prefer their Australian Terrier’s color to have white in it that they should be able to have white in their coats? I don’t think so but our group really doesn’t specify which choice. Any choice? I, personally, think that the group should be named Breeders Advocating for Natural Tails and Dew Claws because I, for one, would not like to see an Australian Terrier with white spots or five legs or two tails. Although, if one of those things got rid of all the health problems that are in Aussies I would take it.
I am a very literal person and tend to get everything all convoluted because I take things so literally. I qualify everything I say. If asked a question, I answer it with “well if….but then if…, etc” so I’m having a problem with our group’s name I guess. I don’t want Breeder’s Choice. I don’t think that each Breeder should have a choice. I think that a movement should be made to talk with the parent club and discussions should be had with the members and non-members of the parent club and then the whole kit and caboodle should get together and agree. I think it is time for a change on this issue but I’m not going to get into a discussion THIS TIME about the ATCA and the people who control it. I’m sure many Australian Terrier people already know how I feel about the “powers that be”.
My thoughts, convoluted or not do not lie in the hands of PETA or HSUS. They belong in the hands of me and I would much rather see the parent clubs change their thinking than see either of those two groups lobby and make another law for us to follow or what else will come afterward?. Oh dear, Breeder’s Choice? I’m so glad that I’m not a breeder right now.
Have a wonderful 2014!!!

DISTRACTED AKC JUDGES

Today, I feel like ranting and raving about the AKC in general. Now that I have caught up with everything and am ready for Christmas I can concentrate on something that I truly love and that something is dogs. In 1984 I obtained my first pedigree dog (or he obtained me) by me feeling sorry for him and stealing him from the neighbor. I thought he was a large Yorkshire Terrier and kept waiting for his hair to grow but it never did. I then found out he was an Australian Terrier (who ever heard of an Australian Terrier?) while looking through a dog book and finding a picture of Robert and J.F. Kennedy playing with one when they were children. He was the King of the Block until I got him at which time I had him get a vasectomy. Yes, a vasectomy, because I still wanted him to think he was “king of the block” even though he was on the end of the leash after I got him.
I decided he needed company so after doing A LOT of research I found a breeder who was having puppies and purchased a female “not for showing”. Then I started taking her to obedience classes and hey, as long as I was there, conformation and showing classes (much to the Breeders embarrassment). The first show she went to, we walked up to the Judge and she rolled over on her back to have her tummy rubbed. Needless to say, although the Judge was very nice by asking if this was our first show, Lucy didn’t come in first. Eventually, Lucy got her Championships in both conformation (beauty) and obedience but I have to admit that it took a lot of money and time to do it.
Meanwhile another Breeder must have either felt sorry for me (there were some tears when the Judge didn’t even look at her) and said she would get me a good puppy if I wanted. So, I got the pick of a wonderful litter of beautiful puppies. This one had the right attitude for showing. Perhaps he had a little too much of the right attitude because when he would be posing for the win he would also be ripping the ribbons from the Judge’s hand and knocking over the sign and I got blisters on my hand so I hired a handler. But, he was beautiful and he got a Best in Show and was invited to Eukanuba and was in the top 10 and went to Westminster twice. (All stories in themselves).
After obtaining some more females and finishing them (getting their Championships) I decided to become a breeder and did well for several litters but, as usual, disaster struck and I had a litter of puppies that I don’t even want to think about. Two survived but I spayed and placed the females and neutered my male. My last show dog was in 2005 and he obtained his championship when less than one year but had to be euthanized at the age of 2 years. That was it. The gene pool in Australian Terriers was too small and I was not getting any straight answers (or any answers at all) from other Australian Terrier breeders (even those belonging to the Australian Terrier Club of America) so why would I want to repeat my mistakes and go through that again? My thoughts were that perhaps other breeders had had litters like mine and since the malformations were obvious when the pups were born they just disposed of the pups and said they had small litters. Why would they want to give their breeding programs a bad name? Especially when they had been working on them for years and years?
Knowing how wonderful the Australian Terrier breed was I just couldn’t keep away from them and I found a couple of groups on Facebook that had them and kept talking about them and then there were the Breeders on them that were having puppies and people were getting puppies and I was just dying! So I decided on a breeder and told her I would like a show pup in 2015 but would like it to be a pup whose parents were from out of the United States. No problem. Then a Breeder in Sweden had a litter and I couldn’t stand it so I asked for a pup and she said yes! But, I got strong again and cancelled the order and told her I couldn’t get one until 2015. This past July a litter was born that was mostly from out of the US and my Karla is sitting beside me now. See how strong I am?
Now comes the ranting and raving:
When you show a dog you try to show one that is as close to the standard as possible. A standard is a description made by the individual breed clubs of the perfect dog, in this case made by the Australian Terrier Club of America. This standard is to be read by the judges of the American Kennel Club and learned by heart and who are then allowed to judge the Australian Terrier. Our standard has explicit descriptions of all of the dogs parts, how they move, how they are put together and their personalities. Not only do they have descriptions but they specify what deviations from the standard are more important than others. They tell you how the Australian Terrier should be and in that description certain things are to be PENALIZED, such as “in any color, white markings on the chest or feet are to be penalized. In other words, if you take a dog in the ring with other dogs and your dog has white it can still win but the other dogs would have to be much worse than yours.
WORSE than penalized is a FAULT, such as light colored or protruding eyes, cobbiness, too long in loin, straight, loose and loaded shoulders, down on pasters, lack of muscular development or excessive muscularity, all black body coat in the adult dog, tan smut in the blue portion of the coat or dark smut in sandy/red coated dogs, shyness or aggressiveness toward people. A FAULT is worse than a penalization and in my opinion you shouldn’t even embarrass yourself by bringing a dog with a fault into the ring and wasting the Judge’s time with it.
Karla has a tail. A beautiful wagging, just the right length with just the right amount of hair and just the right color of a tail. However, Australian Terrier tails are described as docked. It is not something to be penalized and it is not a fault but it is in the description so if I were to take Karla into the ring against two other dogs and they were all the same, Karla would lose because of her tail. If she was a bit better then she would win regardless of the tail.
In Europe it is illegal to dock the tail of a dog. You cannot show them if they have docked tails I believe (I’m not sure about this). So if I were to purchase a dog from Europe it would have to be at least eight weeks old and would still have a tail when it got over her. At this time I would consider that tail to definitely be a part of the spine and I would NOT dock it and I would look down on any veterinary that would dock it for me. The argument that tails get injured is hogwash. I suppose if a leg got hurt you would amputate it. Same with a tail. But remove it for no reason except that some person thinks it looks better shorter? The same with ears. Actually I like the looks of people with smaller ears so I think they should go to the doctor and get their ears docked please so that I don’t have to look at big ears.
Here we go: In the last Australian Club of America (ATCA) newsletter under “Corresponding & Recording Secretary Reports” it was stated that a letter from a Judge (I assume it was an AKC Judge) was received as follows: I am a newly approved terrier group judge. Like all judges (I certainly hope) I want to do what the parent clubs feel is right for their breed. I recently had an entry of 5 at an all breed show. Several had undocked tails which I found to be a terrible distraction to proper outline. None of these dogs possessed what I would call a “distinct keel” called for in your standard. I also judge dachshunds, and maybe I am expecting too much. However a hollow front is offensive to me in your breed.
I did not place the Aussie in my group simply because of the lack of a “distinct keep”. I felt the lack of a keel impacted the right outline and front assemble. Please help me with both the tail and the keep issues. I would like to have parent club understanding on these issues. I have placed a fine specimen of your breed group 2 at least twice recently. Thank you.

It was reported that the Judge’s Education Chair responded describing again for the Judge the correct front assembly for the Australian Terrier and quoting additional references regarding the same and then requoting the standard that states that the tail should be docked.
Had I been Corresponding Secretary of the ATCA I would have responded to the Judge that perhaps before he/she be allowed to judge, he/she should aquaint him/herself with the breed standards that he/she will be judging. I would ask how this person got a license to judge when he/she could be so distracted by a tail. Does this judge also get distracted by the person holding the lead of the dog? Or, perhaps, what that person is wearing? I know that these things do happen and it is VERY discouraging to the owner of the dog that has put time and money into training and transporting their dog to the show. The dog is in the ring for only a few minutes and receives (we hope) even less time of the judge’s attention. It is unfortunate that that time is spent not looking at the dog but being distracted by a tail, or by a nice leash or by a spectator waving their arm.
However, luckily, I will never be the Corresponding Secretary of the ATCA (more about that later perhaps), because if I were, there would be a mass mailing to all judges stating that they should try to remember that all dogs should have tails, eyes, ears, noses and at the very least….kisses!

Flocked Sheer (3'x6')

OH BOY! NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ALREADY?

Oh the joys of November and pre-Christmas in central, fingerlakes, upstate New York! I have decided to describe where I am because even my friends on Face Book accuse (yes, accuse) me of being in New York City. I’ve been in New York City three times in my life:
1) Taking my dog to Westminster who, while walking (or running with the crowd) down the side walk picked up a piece of gum and had fun chewing it as we went in.
2) Taking the same dog to Westminster with my handler from Maine who, after dark decided to take a walk (and I decided like a dummy to go with him). As we turned the corner and saw the barrels with fire in them and the people standing around them I turned around as he was saying “Oh! isn’t this wonderful”. I did nag enough to get him to finally turn around and go the other way.
3) Taking that same darn dog to the Montgomery Specialty in Bucks County, PA, with my hubby in his old large Chevy pickup with cover (we couldn’t afford anything else since we were showing that dog) when somehow we got sucked under that long, long bridge and BINGO there we were in NY City. After a bit of panic we found our way out despite all the people in the one way streets that don’t look at anyone else even if they are going to be run over. We had our windshield washed at least 12 times and purchased a full bouquet individually.
Now where was I? Oh goodness, I hadn’t even started!
The joy of November… the brown mud and tan grass, the brown fir trees and leafless deciduous trees. The brown water puddles, the grey, dreary skies, the brown birds – even the geese are gone. So cheerful and enervating – just makes you want to dance with joy. After your nap. Makes you ready to do your pre-Christmas fun of rushing through Thanksgiving because the countdown has started, by eating a brown turkey with brown stuffing and gravy. Then dragging the decorations up and the tree – if you are silly, you can go purchase a tree, cut it off and watch it turn brown along with the floor under it. Or, you can purchase a live tree and add another fir tree to your already 30 fir trees in your yard in the spring. Then you open the boxes that were packed so well last year when you were sick of Christmas and just wanted them out of sight. Then sort them and throw away the precious glass ones that broke and untangle all the aluminum strings and pearl strings and lights and then have to run out and purchase new lights anyway because for some reason these don’t work. Ahhh! and then you get to put your decorations all over the house and wonder where to put that tree drawing made from a handprint and where to put all the things on the dressers where the decorations are going to go, stick the decorations on the windows to cover that brown because it still hasn’t snowed.
Now that the kids are off your back you can get our your address book and start labeling cards. I always write my return address and addressee address because I think it is so tacky to use stickers or computers, but, did they send you one last year? If they didn’t then why should you send them one? I mean, you have to mortgage the house to purchase postage now-a-days to send a cheap looking card. (Advertisement here to visit your local antique dealer and buy old Christmas cards during the year) Even if I use an old used Christmas card I either cross off the old sender’s name or for a little excitement and to keep those letters flowing to me I leave the old name and put “and Debbie and Paul”. That always wakes people up. Who the heck is Edith?
When you have permanent hand cramp (unless you have sent a copied Christmas letter telling me how much money you have and toys and good luck and new clothes and fun) instead of a little note you can start wrapping the presents!!! Luckily you have been visiting all those antique shops and picking up cheap, fun, interesting things as presents so you don’t have to brave the crowds to buy things that fall apart in one week or furniture made of particle board that warps when wet. Right? So, all you have to do is wrap them. Again, you have been visiting your local antique stores for old paper (even old newspapers) and bows and ribbons and do-dads that make your presents special even before they are opened and are just as easy to wrap but fun also. Unless…..you don’t use those bags do you? OH NO!!!! Well, that adds the old personal touch doesn’t it? You can recycle those forever, also, and you don’t have to spend any time at all on your friends because they probably aren’t worth it anyway!
Hoo Boy! Do you think I should stop for this post? Probably a good idea. Either way – y’all have a maaavelous Christmas and because of what it means now to everyone – may we hope it goes by fast!!!