The Elgin County Kennel Club wants to come home to Elgin for its annual dog show. It would be nice to have it here in St. Thomas. I’d probably go all three days if it were.
I spent last Saturday at it. Petted lots of dogs, took lots of pictures. Met a magnificent three-year old Neapolitan Mastiff. She had feet like snowshoes and a face that, really, only a mother could love. 135 pounds and no taller than my 50 pound Poodle. A total sweetheart.
A Golden Labrador who just wanted to play – and this while he was waiting to go in the ring. Then his cousin came out of the ring. They greeted each other as if, as their handlers laughed, they’d been apart for years. They both greeted me, a total stranger, as if I were a long-lost relative.
There were fewer vendors of dog products this year. And me with a shopping list and dogs’ measurements in my pocket. Two natural and raw diet booths that I don’t remember seeing before. One, Pets 4 Life, is here in St. Thomas.
ARF was there, I’m glad to say, reminding people that shelter adoption is a viable way to get a dog and save a life.
I love dog shows: the dedication and pride of breeders, the pride of beautiful dogs showing themselves off. Breeders can correct congenital medical problems and improve dog breeds in health and looks. Good breeders are assets to the dog world by educating people about dogs and improving the breed they love.
But I know that not all breeders are good ones. Puppy mill breeding dogs too often come from kennels’ “excess stock” – unsold or unshowable dogs. The pet store puppy you got “with papers”? Yes, he or she may be registered with the CKC or AKC but it doesn’t tell you anything other than the bloodlines are documented. All litters of registered parents can be registered at birth. That’s all it means. It does not mean the parents were in a reputable kennel or that they, or the pups, are taken proper care of or are healthy.
Breeders may overemphasize looks and not pay enough attention to congenital problems. Also problems have been created by breeding for a particular look in a dog. Bull dogs, for example: creating that exaggeratedly short snout also created breathing problems. If you haven’t seen the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, do so. But don’t then disparage all breeders: they cannot be lumped in a single basket, either bad or good. It’s breeders who can best undo the damage done to a breed.
I hope the St. Thomas Timken Centre will be able to house the Elgin Kennel Club show by next year. I’ll be there!