Put the Pen to the Paper


:the color coordinated canine
May 31, 2008, 12:10 pm
Filed under: :Equipment, :Exhibiting, :Grooming

in business since 1986

” imitation is the greatest form of flattery”

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Wayne Baker – Lainee Ltd.
1771 Lenape Road, West Chester, PA 19382
ph. 610-793-2925 fax 610-793-2926
wayne@laineeltd.com



:Anonymous EQUALS Cowardly
March 22, 2008, 8:59 pm
Filed under: :Exhibiting
lehnigtitle_2081.jpgBy Beverly Lehnig

The idea for this article came from a young judge friend of mine. I have known this particular person for many years now, first as an exhibitor and now as one of our promising judges. I had no reason to ever doubt her integrity as an exhibitor and I have no reason to now doubt her integrity as a judge. She is a tried and true dog person with no agenda except to give back to the sport which has given so much to her.
 

It seems my young friend received two anonymous letters, both of which upset her, and both of which questioned her judgment in two different Non-Sporting breeds. One pointed out that a dog she had rewarded had a disqualifying fault. The other was a copy of the breed standard with most of it highlighted in yellow. The letter concerning the disqualification even contained photos which supposedly came from the breeder’s website.
 

I’m confident I’d be hard put to find any judge who has not received an anonymous communication from time to time. We all have. It is not a new problem and not one which is likely to go away. The only thing remotely new about it is that these unsigned tirades are sometimes now received by e-mail. I was the lucky recipient of one of these a while back. It was particularly vicious and referred to me, among other things, as a “cheap crook.” I handled it as I always do by sending it to AKC although there is really nothing that anybody can do. As judges, we have to expect some of this sort of thing and learn to roll with it. I can’t say I’ve endured very much of this type of abuse but even a little is upsetting, especially when you’ve knocked yourself out trying to do a good job of judging to the standard.
 

My friend posed this question: “If the person sending the letter has such little confidence in my judging ability, why bother to show to me?” She goes on to say, “If they wanted to help me in my efforts to judge their breed, wouldn’t it be more advantageous to come to a show that I was judging, not enter a dog, observe my judging without a bias, then kindly approach me on a break to discuss constructively their breed?”
 

Of course it would, but exhibitors of this caliber don’t really think rationally. There is only one truth for them which is that they didn’t win. The tendency is to lash out and blame the judge for the loss instead of looking at the broad picture and finding maybe, just maybe, a good reason for the judge’s decision. It boosts the ego to try to deflate this “stupid” person and wear an air of self-righteous indignation.
 

My friend also notes as follows: “Have the exhibitors looked at the dogs, looked at what the judges pick and found a common theme between these dogs? All judges are judging by the standard but there is some subjectivity to it. What you might view as an important thing in the standard, I may not view it quite as important. Because of this, if we as judges show any consistency in our judging we will find a type in each breed as we become more experienced. Handlers that are smart people will look at their string of dogs at the moment and try to bring a dog that the judge of the moment could prefer. Herein lies the problem. Most handlers have several dogs in their string, are able to choose which dog show they are going to travel to, which improves their odds of winning. This is what they are paid to do. An owner/handler/exhibitor does not have the same options available. They usually have one or two dogs and of the same type because they are both from their breeding program. They are limited to going to shows within a certain range due to costs and a full-time job to support their hobby. Presenting their dog to its best benefit also becomes an issue because they are emotionally involved and don’t have the experience of hours upon hours in the ring. Many exhibitors don’t even realize that there is a written breed standard that they should hope that their dog conforms to.”
 

My friend concludes by observing that “this sort of anonymous propaganda only makes the person receiving it mad.” This is very true. It is meant to demean the judge to whom it is sent and it is also meant to make the person sending it feel superior. It’s an “I guess I showed him/her” sort of attitude. Unnecessary, childish and cowardly. Yes, cowardly. Anyone can write a letter, or send an e-mail, or make a telephone call without identifying himself or herself. This does not make for an individual who is bravely and fearlessly challenging the authority of one who passes judgment on his entry. It shows a yellow streak, a deep-down distrust of one’s own beliefs and opinions.
 

I am not alone in my belief that small, youngish women judges are a particular target for this type of abuse. And make no mistake about it, abuse is what it is. If it happened verbally in the ring, a bench show hearing would be the result. For some reason, a certain type of exhibitor thinks intimidation is the way to go. If this smallish, youngish female judge also comes across as a nice person, then to a certain mindset, it’s Katie bar the door. I don’t mean to sound negative but I’ve been through it and all it did to me was make me tougher and more determined. Well, time does solve everything. I’m still smallish but youngish no more. And my advice to my petite, forty-ish women judge friends is to add another layer of steel to your spine. You’ll come out on top.
 

To repeat what I said earlier, every judge has been subjected to the anonymous letter factor. The best weapon is to firmly ignore it. Send the letters/e-mails to AKC and then forget about them. They can’t take away from who you are and who you will become which is a force for good in the dog world and the sport of judging.



Canine Lameness Learning Module
February 3, 2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: :Anatomy, :Exhibiting, :Standards, :Veterinary Care, :Websites

 Canine Lameness Learning Module



A week at the National in Houston, Texas
February 3, 2008, 6:19 pm
Filed under: :Exhibiting

First let me remind you, “Don’t trust the weather!” The week before I left for Nationals I kept an eye on the weather forecast, it was averaging 87 degrees. Needless to say, I dug out all my summer clothes, which I had already packed away, everyone knows there is no need for shorts and tank tops in Minnesota in October. Well, there was no need for them in Houston, TX the week of Nationals either!! My 1 sweatshirt and blue jeans which I wore on the airplane were seen a lot around the hotel that week considering the temperature was averaging 70 degrees or less. I will say that the temperature was great for the dogs, even though you found many of us in our PJs with our teeth chattering as we stood by expens at 6:00 in the morning waiting for our dogs to do their business.

The hotel was great! The service and the friendly staff was unbelievable. The rooms were large and they kept almost all of the exhibitors on the first floor with easy access to the outside, which had a lot of grassy areas. Everyone knows how important that is, we won’t mention the fire ants.

Grooming in the ring area, well all I will say about that is, it was extremely cozy! The ring itself was good size and as long as you didn’t look down at the pattern in the rug while you were moving, things were OK.

The Houston Regional Specialty was held on Monday, with breeder/judge Darby McSorley. It was a very long day, starting with Sweepstakes at 10 am and final judging ending about 6 pm. Ms. McSorley had the complaint that she was to thorough, I think that was more of a compliment myself. She moved us several times and put several dogs back up on the table to compare, in the end she pointed to Fernando, you could of knocked me over with a feather! Stunned, excited, thrilled are just a few adjectives to describe my feelings at that moment.

The ALAC Regional was held on Tuesday, with breeder/judge KeKe Kahn. Ms. Kahn seemed to enjoy judging her own breed, and for those of you who are wondering she looks great and says she is feeling better than she has in a long time, after her fall here at our January shows. KeKe ended up picking Ch. Hylan Shotru Full of Dreams for BOB.

Fernando made the cut and Indian Hill Melou’s Josie went third out of a large open class.

Wednesday, was agility, obedience, rally day. Everything was able to be held on hotel grounds and a large number of spectators came out to watch the agility trials at 9 am in the morning. Let’s just say that the hotel sold a lot of coffee that morning as we tried to stay warm watching the dogs run, have fun and embarrassing their owners (right Melissa?)

Thursday, was a special day as JoAnne was able to come for a few hours and watch the dogs being judged. She had just gotten out of the hospital on Tuesday so making it to the show was a tremendous feat. So many people were able to see, talk and hug her. I was amazed at how many people she knew by name. Unlike myself, who had just been smiling and saying hi all week to these other exhibitors who I kind of recognize but had no idea what their names were.

Ronnie Crowder judged the Futurity earlier that morning and did a great job, chosing an 18 month bitch, CH. My Thai Ta Sen Halleluiah Chorus. In particular Ronnie fashion he was able to pull several laughs from the crowd.

Friday was the judging of bitches and specials under breeder/judge Barbara Schwartz. You could tell by the look on her face, that judging her first National and the quality of dogs was an overwhelming experience. She stayed with type and in the end had a beautiful line up. Fernando went Best of Opposite to Hylan ShoTru Full of Dreams.

 

Josie took 1st place, again from a very large open class (entry of 9).

Karen Schlais’s lovely black dog from the 9-12 month class was very impressive all week long, winning his class every single time! (entry of 9) Debby’s and my little Edie, FFT Carpe Diem picked up a 1st,2nd, 2-3rd places and a 4th out of a very large 12-18 mo bitch class,(entry of 10) in which she was clearly the youngest and Fernando’s littermate, FFT Kisses of Fire was in the final line-up under Ms. McSorley.

To say we celebrated, maybe a little of an understatement, but we certainly had fun. There were also a few scary moments, like Monday evening when the call came in that Cathy Sarantis, Bev Simms and her husband (from California) had been hit by a semi truck, their rental car totaled and were being taken to the hospital. After a long night sleeping on emergency room couches, I am happy to say they were all released with minor injuries.

Mary Beth Lang (from Indiana) never made it out of her hotel room and by Wednesday she was taken to the hospital and diagnosis with meningitis. She was still there when we all left on Saturday.

Maybe it is because I know more people or I am just used to them, but I thought that the people attending this national were all very friendly and congratulatory. I didn’t hear of any complaints from the exhibitors or the hotel, and on any given night you could walk into the bar or the restaurant and find tables of exhibitors laughing and sharing stories. Really isn’t that what the National is all about, spending time with people who share the same passion about the Lhasa as you do.



For The Love of Our Veterans by Gay Dunlap
February 3, 2008, 5:52 pm
Filed under: :Articles, :Exhibiting

Interesting that I sit here, on Veteran’s Day, contemplating where to begin this essay about veterans. It’s about a veteran of a different sort, however … our veteran dogs. For us, a veteran (from the Latin, vetus, meaning old), in dog show parlance is any dog or bitch that qualifies to be shown in the veteran class. The term is not used other than in this context. For example, despite her age, I do not refer to my eleven-year-old bitch, Mikaela, as a veteran. But this could change by the simple act of entering her in a veteran class.

Seldom is the qualifying age less than seven years, although with Great Danes it is six, and with some, eight. Many clubs break the veterans classes into two or more groups. The Great Dane Club offers two classes for veterans: 6 to 8, and 8 and over with entries ranging from 6 to 10 dogs in the younger division and half of that in the older one. For their veteran sweepstakes, Brittany exhibitors are provided with three divisions: 8 to 10, 10 to 12, and 12 and over.

A thread issued forth on the Judges List recently dealing with the veteran class, during which those speaking out seemed divided into sharply opposing factions on several issues. The discussion began with veteran class placements. Some, myself included, felt consideration should be given to awarding only first place, the rationale being that these old dogs are all special and therefore should not be subjected to a lowly placement or, worse, suffering the humiliation of being left out of the ribbons entirely. Others sallied forth with the idea that receiving any ribbon in the veteran class would be an honor. In my breed, and in most terrier breeds for that matter, the veteran classes are small. Consequently, the prospect of a dog or bitch being left out of the ribbons is pretty much a non-issue. At Montgomery this past October there were five veteran Smooth Fox Terriers but only first place was awarded, the remaining four receiving special rosettes. Airedale veterans were divided into three age groups: 7 & under 9, 9 & under 11 and 11 & over. The entries in each division were three or less.

This particular thread segued into another facet of veteran competition before it could be established that the polarization of this topic might have more to do with numbers than anything else. In other words, those receiving 2nd through 4th place in breeds with large veteran classes could well be proud.

Of considerably greater interest to the list was the subject of awarding Best of Breed to the winner of the veteran class. Spawned by a question inquiring as to what awarding BOB to an eleven-year-old veteran might say about its breed and its breeders, responses were varied. Some seemed rather emotional. It must be remembered that many of our judges are still breeding and exhibiting so that reactions may at times have reflected this. The question struck me personally as particularly relevant since an eleven-year-old veteran had won Best of Breed over sixteen specials at my breed’s specialty in June. Although it was just a simple question and not meant as a comment, some tried to put that spin on it. Does pointing to an eleven-year-old veteran for Best of Breed infer that the quality of the specials was so poor as to offer the judge no other choice? When the veteran takes top honors does one conclude that the breed is in bad shape? Or could it indicate the reverse…that the breed is in such great shape that its older dogs remain competitive? Both may be an oversimplification of the situation.

Certainly, if the award appears to have been emotionally driven, and let’s face it, this is not unheard of, then questioning the judge’s decision has merit. In many cases, however, the winning veteran has just reached the requisite age and differs little from his competition in the specials class. Historically, such has been the case in my breed with only one veteran winning at the more advanced age of nine, until, that is, the win of our eleven-year-old, mentioned previously. No matter the quality, one may still hear whisperings around the ring, “With all those specials, couldn’t the judge find one he liked?” But does not the same hold true when the specialty judge awards BOB to a class dog or bitch? How about when the judge’s choice is a puppy? Certainly any or all of these scenarios could speak to the lack of quality among the specials. But let’s be honest here; a breathtaking puppy (or veteran dog) will always catch the discerning eye, whether it be that of the judge or of someone standing ringside. Good is good but better is better!

We should find it rewarding that a senior veteran is of such superb breed type that it can win Best of Breed, especially in a breed where dogs often finish as youngsters, some as puppies, and then disappear into the woodwork. We sometimes wonder what happened to them…did they fall apart? Did their coats go bad? Are they sick? Or was it simply that they weren’t good enough to special? At my national specialty last fall, of the forty-four specials entered, most were in the one and two-year-old range and only three were over the age of four.

Hopefully, breeders across the board in all breeds are dedicated to preserving breed type and, beyond that, are continually striving to improve their stock. But should we not also be dedicated to longevity? And I don’t mean keeping dogs alive that can hardly move around the room. I mean creating dogs that can remain in top condition through their golden years. The veteran class should generate pride, not simply the emotional knee jerk reaction of tears.

Veterans are generally treated with great respect in society. For the most part but not always, this holds true for our veteran dogs. The following struck a chord with me and thought it germane to the subject of respect:The Veteran DogIn the 24 hours since the following occurred, I can hardly believe the outpouring of comments and feelings that it has evoked.It all began 6 months ago and came to a head when I attended yesterday’s meeting of our local breed club. This incident caused me much heartfelt pain that it made me wonder why I should “even bother.”

I came close to not renewing my membership – and I am a founding member of this club. To be perfectly honest, the ONLY reason I renewed was because I am the Rescue Coordinator for the club. And I had not attended a meeting since “what happened” happened.I wasn’t even going to attend the meeting until I noticed when checking the entries on-line that there was a certain lone entry listed… I knew then that I must attend and I must finally speak my mind…and my heart.

I sat down at my computer and carefully composed my thoughts. Tears came to my eyes as I wrote it and I feared that I could not read it aloud to the membership. And that was the case. As the President called out a request for “meeting adjourned,” I stood up, said, “I have one more thing”, and handed the copy to a good friend who was seated next to me. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to read this to you all, but if Lynda would, I’d appreciate it”.

As they say: “All names and breed have been changed to protect the innocent”. I can’t honestly say that anyone concerned in this incident is innocent, but the purpose of this is not to further embarrass anyone involved. This, BTW, did not occur at a Specialty, just at an All-Breed Show, in a non-regular class.The following is what I wrote:I see that the “Smiths” have entered their dog in the Veterans Class. Apparently there is no one in this Club who knows that it is customary to offer a round of applause for those that are entered.

Six months ago, at this same show, I entered my Veteran Dog in this same class. Not one person applauded. Not one person came up and said anything. Not one person came over to give him a kind word or a pat. Not one person made him feel he belonged again.

He was no threat to anyone. He wasn’t going to beat anyone, take any points, or win anything. He was just an old dog who thought he was special again – back in the ring for the first time in many years. Maybe he even recalled his “Glory Days”.
He would have loved to have met anyone there. He would have welcomed you like an old friend. You didn’t have to say anything nice about him if you didn’t want to. But just in case you can’t think of anything to say about a Veteran Dog, here are some suggestions: “It was nice to see him out there.” Or go up to him and tell him he’s a “Good Boy.” Or tell his owner that you are glad that they brought him.

Those aren’t exactly compliments, but they will please his owner and make him glad that they brought him. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

One day, all too soon, all your beautiful young dogs will be old dogs too. Maybe one day you’ll enter them in a Veterans Class. And I hope that you do.

Or, like many of us, you remember that old friend, now gone, and wish you still had the chance. They deserve it. It may be their final time in the sun – their last time out in front of people. Their last time to ever be in the ring.
My old dog is a fool. He thought he was wonderful that day. He thought he belonged. Instead, he was ignored. I have thought about this for six months now, and wasn’t going to say anything. But on his behalf, and that of any other Veteran, I hope that something like this never occurs again.

As a Club of (Breed) Fanciers, you should feel ashamed. Even if you dislike the dog or his owner, at least show good sportsmanship and do the right thing. Show others that you have respect for your breed. Make that Veteran Dog feel wanted and special again. Let him know that you are glad to see him. It will make his day. You may never get the chance again. Thank you.As Lynda began reading it, the hush that fell over the room was incredible. Bless her heart, my friend Lynda broke into tears as she struggled through reading this. EVERYONE in the room lowered their heads, and many of them began to cry also, including the President (who is a man).

I tried my best to hold my head up and refrain from tears, again. The President strode over to where I was sitting and in a broken voice said, “Terry…I am SO sorry. He is such a wonderful dog. There is no excuse for what happened to you. And to him.”

As I started to say that I “wasn’t going to say anything” again, the room nearly burst with everyone trying to talk at once. The discussion that followed was both eye-opening and of valuable purpose. Many came up to me in tears, with hugs and apologies.
I am a very private and shy person, not given to sharing my deepest feelings easily. This had been an incredibly difficult thing for me to do, but in honor of my Veteran and all the others out there, I felt it must be done.

Was it worth it?

When “Mr. Smith” took his lovely 12 1/2 year old dog (neutered due to testicular cancer) into the ring, our entire membership remained – and applauded and “whooped and hollered” him with every move. The Judge moved to the center of the ring on his final go round and applauded, as did her ring stewards. Others nearby, watching other breeds, came over and remarked on how wonderful it was to see a Veteran being treated like that. Many, (including me) asked to take his picture. Everyone complimented him and his owners.

If only my old dog had enjoyed such a day…Was it worth it? You tell me…

Sorry for the length of this, but so many in other breeds who heard about what happened have already asked me for a copy of my written paper that I thought perhaps it was something that needed to be shared. Amazing how quickly word spreads amongst us dog people. It’s often said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But I know one old dog who taught something of great value.
~author unknown

This article was originally published in The Canine Chronicle.



Get Ready by Cassandra de la Rosa
February 3, 2008, 5:49 pm
Filed under: :Articles, :Exhibiting

The elegant Lhasa Apso flowing with its flawless coat in the group ring did not get there by accident.  The obedience, agility and rally Lhasas, achieving titles while entertaining spectators, did not come to these activities unprepared or without significant commitment from their owners and handlers.  While many important elements contribute to the success of the canine athlete, two stand out: readiness and commitment.

Readiness is one of the most underrated success factors. Age and emotional factors control the right timing for a dog to successfully perform, be it housetraining, the long down or free stacking.  This doesn’t mean success just happens at some magic age.  Rather, it means that human keepers need to understand their dogs’ physical, mental and emotional states before expecting them to perform certain tasks reliably, happily and with confidence.  It also means owners must be committed to doing our part to bring the dog to readiness.

What are the factors leading to readiness?  First there are the physical attributes needed for the task.  Is the dog a meritorious representative of the breed?  One shouldn’t take a dog into the conformation ring to determine whether it’s a worthy specimen. Judges give only a subjective ranking of the dogs present that day.  The exhibitor is responsible for learning the strengths and weaknesses of her dog before pursuing a championship title.  Sometimes the evaluation is a painful learning experience, but an inferior dog will never be ready to win. 

Is the dog sound and in condition?  Bad joints, poor movement or lack of stamina due to improper exercise should not be part of the winning equation.  Lhasa Apsos literally must be able to step into to the rigors of competition without risk of injury or breakdown. 

Nutrition, oral hygiene, exercise and coat care are requisites to fully develop the potential of a championship contender.  The Lhasa Apso’s coat is a defining characteristic of the breed.  A hard straight coat is not only correct, but is easier to maintain in proper length and condition than a soft coat.  Regular bathing and proper grooming are non-negotiable when preparing a Lhasa for competition. 

Lhasas are highly intelligent and do not like to embarrass themselves by playing the fool.  They need to understand the requirements of competition, be it conformation, obedience or other performance events.  They are highly opinionated, easily bored and many disdain repetitive drill.  So training a Lhasa is a test in maintaining interest and enthusiasm for the task. 

Emotional readiness and physical maturity are harder to define, but pose high hurdles in achieving readiness.  Every dog deserves the time and opportunity to find its courage, to develop self-confidence and the mental toughness necessary to compete.  Some dogs are born to it, some achieve it, others should be spared the experience.  It’s hard for a committed owner to accept that their quality Lhasa that simply refuses to perform in the ring is not a show dog.  After all efforts have failed, accept the dog for what it is, not what you want it to be. 

Maturity can be achieved, never rushed.  Between the cute puppy and the elegant adult is an adolescent, frequently awkward, sometimes unpredictable, usually not quite “together”.  Then seemingly overnight the chrysalis opens and when all elements come together, the dog is ready.    

This piece was printed in the September 2006 issue of the AKC Gazette 



The Importance of Beauty by Catherine McMillan
February 3, 2008, 5:47 pm
Filed under: :Articles, :Exhibiting

 

In an email list I belong to that is devoted to canine genetics, I was involved in a discussion that revolved around the condemnation of all things show ring. “The show ring is responsible for exaggeration. The show ring is a false and artificial place that is sucking in our breeds and ruining them for all eternity. It’s just a beauty contest.”

Just a beauty contest.

I had never been a strong advocate of the show ring, though I did compete with enthusiasm. I was familiar with the extremes that can result from the almighty ribbon chase, the sad fact that breed standards can become secondary to fashion and sires promoted to serve egos at the expense of breed health. I knew of the abuses. I knew all of that.

But now things were different. I rose to defend the show ring, and to challenge the statement, for now I have an appreciation that I did not before.

“When,” I found myself asking, “did beauty become a pejorative term?

For 20 years my small breeding program had met with some success. I worked within a fairly tight family line, introducing new blood carefully, and discarding dogs who failed to meet both my competitive standards and threshold for health problems. There was steady progress while I set a few distinctive traits into the family. Not only were the dogs becoming known for their type and movement, but we were carefully pulling together and preserving the genes of an important family of the past that had fallen into disfavour when PRA was discovered in the line. Only a few pockets of direct descendants remained in the breed and our dogs represented one of those – and the dogs here defied the odds and remained (as they have to this day) free of PRA.

In the mid 1990’s my veterinarian’s wife asked to breed a bitch she had of my breeding. She was bred to a dog from an entirely different background that had been given to me by a friend in California. I had great fun showing him, but had never used him myself. The breeding resulted in a male puppy who became mine in lieu of stud fee. He was to give my dogs the turbo charge of style they needed.

He finished his U.S. title with an unprecedented sweep of the majors at AMSC Great Western. He won a specialty his first day as a special in the U.S. as well as several groups in Canada. He was crossed back into my original bitch line with immediate success, creating one of those rare nicks in which the virtues of two lines combine and then remain intact in successive generations. His first son completed his title at Montgomery County, and began to rack up the Best In Shows. He drew the interest of color breeders, as he also happened to be a black, and rarest of all, a black who had never seen the dye bottle. Sons went to Australia, to Brazil, bitches were bred in the U.S. and Canada and offspring went to Europe. His grandchildren began to spread across the globe, winning groups and Bests In Show both here and abroad.

Then, in routine puppy eye exams, a litter out of one of his daughters was diagnosed with retinal dysplasia.

As I had crossed him back into my line he was quietly creating carriers across the spectrum of the family and seeding them into others. As the weeks and months passed, breeding after breeding proved dog after bitch after dog to be carriers. The dog who had helped make my dreams come true was poised to bring them crashing down.

So many breeders in the past, when faced with genetic disease, have fallen on their swords. They have packed up their breeding programs, spayed and neutered, started over or taken up golf. When the 20-20 hindsight of breed history has examined the consequences, the cure has often been worse than the disease. Dogs were lost to the breed for defects that could be tested for just a few years later. Dogs were condemned for disease less serious than their surviving competitors were found later to be spreading. I decided to take a page from history and learn from it. The breeding program would continue with the same goals, the same dogs as before, but with an additional task – to remove the gene, taking as many generations as necessary to do so without compromising type and other health considerations.

To halt the further spread of the gene, I did what I could to get the word out – released the information for publication so that others would know where the risks were. Known carrier dogs were pulled from public stud, possible carriers available only to breeders whom we could trust to manage the risk. We have the luxury of early diagnosis – the defect is easily spotted in a puppy eye exam. No buyer will ever purchase an affected puppy. Test breeding using affected dogs is currently underway to detect carriers and supporting DNA research that, if successful, may provide powerful new tools for our breed and others in the fight against eye disorders. While these are the darkest of days, there are several lights at the end of this tunnel.

Meanwhile, life here and at related kennels goes on.  We are still breeding the dogs we love, still loving the dogs we breed. Show puppies are being trained and prepared, litters are being planned, champions finishing.  Interest in the line has increased, bouyed by the confidence others have in us to be honest and forthright about our problems. Last year we won our first U.S. National. A grandson took the breed at the AKC/Eukanuba Invitational in December. There were Best In Show wins in Australia and here in Canada. The quality that the line is producing provides perspective and balance to the disappointments that are inevitable when battling a genetic defect. Those wins have become more important than I could have ever imagined in less troubled times.

And so this is how I have learned the importance of beauty.

To those of you out there who feel that it is right and proper to sacrifice beauty to restore health – I am here to tell you that you must not. Health is good, health is important, but it is not enough. It is enough to sustain a dog, but not enough to sustain a breed or a breeder. We need something more – something for ourselves. We need beauty, just as we need air and water and sun. Beauty is the visual representation of good, of value, of virtue. Beauty inspires, it gives us courage.

Get out your old ribbons and dust them off. Spend an afternoon cleaning the tarnish off the trophies. They are meaningful. Those dogs of generations past linger in old show photos to remind us that they once filled the eye as purely as they filled our hearts. They remind us that the dogs we fight for today are here because their ancestors inspired someone to believe in them. They convinced others that their genes were worthy of preservation and continuation, because one day, long ago, they were standing in line when beauty was contested and rewarded.