Friday, January 22, 2010

Now We See The Violence Inherent In the System

In a move that reveals recently unprecedented clarity of self-interest and public relations goals, the American Kennel Club has just announced that it will now permit the impure-of-blood to pay their fees and compete against those anointed by the right paperwork, in contests of obedience and agility.

Most AKC critics are applauding this decision as actually virtuous and good for dogs and their owners. Here's why I'm not joining them.

A couple years ago, ACK started sending up weather balloons about the feasibility of permitting filthy mongrels to compete in performance events.

AKC has always controlled virtually all the venues for formal obedience competition and titling in the US. Only properly-documented ACK-registered "purebreds" were eligible to compete in this red-headed stepchild of "The Sport of Purebred Dogs."

When I took my golden retriever -- an obviously purebred, field-line bitch -- to community obedience classes in the mid-70's, she could not prepare for any formal competitions because she came from the pound. No "papers." The instructor was kind but matter-of-fact in explaining this inflexible reality to the skinny kid who rode her bike* to class, dog galloping beside. Shannon's more accomplished son, who looked purebred, was not, and was also ineligible.

So there we were, alone at the fairgrounds and park, practicing retrieving over jumps and scent discrimination, just because.

In the 80's, they instituted a scheme called the "indefinite listing privilege," (renamed "Purebred Alternative Listing" two years ago) in which the owners of undocumented dogs that looked like a particular AKC-registered breed might pay a fee and send in some photos and proof that their putative purebred was surgically sterilized, and be permitted to slip in alongside the pedigreed elite in the pursuit of obedience and tracking titles.

Many a mongrel became a "Labrador" or "poodle" by virtue of a clever camera angle or strategic haircut, and once the Government of Dogs (G.O.D.) had so declared it, who was to say it was not so? And on the ground, who the hell cared? Obedience competitors are practical sorts, for the most part. The only complaint about an ILP I've ever heard seemed to have to do with someone winning too much, and with the pageant matrons of the breed club getting wind of it. That one provoked a special rule.

Meanwhile, an organization called the American Mixed-Breed Obedience Registry got going in the early 80's. They worked out a deal whereby mongrels could enter local "fun"** matches, the handler and judge could treat the run as if it were a trial and be scored accordingly, and AMBOR would issue titles.

Yeah, second-class citizenship -- but citizenship of a sort, even if not granted by the G.O.D.. Later AMBOR and the privately-owned commercial registry called the United Kennel Club worked out a deal that allowed mixed dogs into UKC obedience trials on an equal footing with UCK-registered -- with one caveat. The mixed-breed dogs had to be sterilized.

Keep watching that last clause, because it becomes important.

One big disadvantage of hitching up with the UKC was that there aren't a lot of UKC trials in most parts of the country. The owner of an AKC-registered dog or an AKC-anointed "ILP" dog could trial every weekend with moderate travel in most parts of the US. Nowhere was that true for those with dogs whose only venues were UKC shows. The advantage was that everyone in the class was really competing, so it was harder for snobs to denigrate the curs' achievements as just affirmative action grade-inflation.

Meanwhile, through the 90's, new, innovative dog sports not under the aegis of the G.O.D. were catching on -- flyball, agility, freestyle and rally obedience -- and venerable working tests/sports -- stockdog trials, schutzhund, earthdog trials -- were becoming more prominent. These events were, for the most part, sponsored and controlled by entities that did not limit entrants or prizes based on breed or registration or "purity." In the new sports, mixed-breed dogs were common and unremarked. In some cases, competitors started to deliberately cross-breed in order to develop competitive animals. Interest in entering dog beauty pageants was waning (even as more and more were televised and glamorized), and consumers started getting wise to the bad deal that "champion bloodlines" meant when they went looking for a pet. ACK registrations were in a clearly unrecoverable tailspin, due in part to the rise of the new puppymill registries, and in part to the indifference of pet owners who quite rightly could not be bothered to send AKC money in exchange for worthless paper. In a panicked attempt to keep the registrations rolling in, the AKC was grabbing "new" breeds right and left, against the increasingly righteous and organized resistance of their breed stewards.

Is it any wonder that the AKC also cast its lidless red eye on these new, and newly prominent, sports -- sports that had developed and flourished under a system of fair, equitable, open-to-all competition? Earthdog, agility, rally obedience, "herding" and lure coursing were soon appropriated, with varying degrees of success. In the wake of public interest in SAR dogs after the Oklahoma City bombing, a new variable-surface tracking title was, before the screaming from the public safety community, witlessly promoted as a search and rescue certification! ("The level of physical difficulty should be such that it will permit all AKC breeds and handlers of any age to participate.")

In the case of, for example, agility trials, clubs and venues that had previously hosted open-to-all, level-playing-field trials sanctioned by USDAA or NADAC in conjunction with their large dog shows and obedience trials now found themselves forbidden to do so.

In 1993, my SAR unit was asked to provide demos and a booth for an AKC dog show in Massachusetts. We'd done the same at an even bigger "cluster" of shows for some years -- a cluster that included an ARBA pageant and open-to-all agility. Good PR and education, sometimes a recruiting success, and a moderate fund-raiser.

But the hosting AKC club of this other show had one stipulation. Only search and rescue dogs that were AKC purebreds were invited to demonstrate or attend. The pit bull (gasp!) and the mixed breeds and their low-life handlers were not wanted. Not Our Sort, you know.

I was the unit's contact person for setting up this demonstration. My regular readers can probably fill in the wording and tone of my response for themselves.

The following year, AKC-sanctioned agility trials -- for registered purebreds only -- replaced those held by the USDAA or NADAC at AKC show and obedience-trial venues.

That's the mindset we are dealing with here, folks. It may have learned to keep its David Duke opinions about canine race under wraps a little better in the past decade and a half, but believe me, inside the country club, when the help is out of earshot, nothing has changed.

So fast-forward to around 2007, when the AKC started floating those weather balloons about the mutts. Eventually it belched out a survey directed at the members of the "Purebred Fancy" and the owners of impure performance dogs, asking under what conditions each group would find it acceptable for mixed dogs to compete in agility, obedience, rally, and tracking trials.

What they came up with, in an attempt to have/eat cake, was separate water fountains.

Mixed dogs could not earn the same exalted titles as the pure. They could never compete head-to-head for placements with the pure. They could not advance to AKC invitationals or the Nationals. They could not be entered into trials where a beauty pageant was being conducted at the same venue, else they might infect the Aryan dogs in much the same way that a rusty heap can profane a new Beemer just by parking next to it. And of course, they had to be sterilized.

Reaction from the owners of mixed-breed performance dogs -- particularly those that are tearing up the USDAA and NADAC agility courses around the country -- apparently sounded like this.

It appears that the reaction from the clubs that actually run the trials and shows from which ACK takes a cut for its "sanction" was also less than enthusiastic.

Prompting this new development frantic backpeddle:

While each club's participation in the AKC Canine Partners program will remain voluntary, clubs may now choose to allow mixed breed participation at any AKC Agility, Obedience or Rally event. Mixed breeds will compete in the same classes and earn the same titles as their purebred counterparts.
So, individual clubs may now ban the impure, but the G.O.D. is no longer mandating apartheid.

As long as the mongrels are sterilized!

The "Canine Partners" program is also open to "purebred" dogs of non-AKC breeds.

As long as the infidel dogs are sterilized!

Ruh roh, Raggy.

Of great note, the AKC's new-ish method of breed-takeover-by-attrition, the "Foundation Stock Service," comes into play here. Because if you own a dog of an FSS-listed breed, you can't access performance events through the "Canine Partners" scheme. You have to register it through the FSS -- the dog, and it's sweet, juicy pedigree.

Make no mistake that the AKC's latest policy move has nothing to do with what is good for dogs, what is good for dog breeds, or what is good for dog owners.

It is good for General Motors the AKC, period.

One aim is to destroy the largest of the level-playing-field, open-to-all competitive venues entirely. USDAA and NADAC compete with ACK for entry fees, publicity, and credibility, and they have to die. Same for APDT rally trials. What started when their trials (and the mutts that entered them) were banned from the same grounds as the dog shows is now meant to finish with the appropriation of all the entrants.

Another aim is to short-stop deliberate cross-breeding for performance and the development of new breeds for new roles. The G.O.D. that howls in protest whenever a mandatory sterilization law threatens to impact their revenues institutes the exact same policy against a subset of their "customers."

A third aim, largely dependent on the destruction of the independent sporting organizations, is to appropriate non-AKC breeds into the FSS, and thence on to full "recognition" as proper show dogs. So they can be improved, natch. And to keep those registration dollahs coming in.

There is no way for the owner of a non-AKC purebred dog to compete with him in AKC events unless the dog is sterilized. With the swamping of alternative venues, the ACK can increase the pressure on independent breed clubs to fold and be assimilated into the FSS, in order to maintain some access to events that can serve as thresholds for soundness and ability, and an engaging hobby for the owners of dogs who don't have real work to do.

The AKC spent nearly a century imagining itself to be the G.O.D. in the United States, and having that presumption continually reinforced by its toadies in The Fancy. Those it considers its rightful subjects have overwhelmingly been sniggering at its nudity or ignoring its existence and getting on with their lives with dogs without benefit of its rule for decades.

Since bringing down the hammer of "purity" backfired last time -- causing the puppymills to take their registration money and go home -- the putative G.O.D. is pursuing another favorite tactic of the failing tyrant -- expansionist warfare.

Fourth, the money from the individual enrollees could be significant. The fee for enrolling a mudblood dog or non-AKC breed as a "Canine Partner" is $15 more than standard registration. An extra ten-spot if you want to give him a particularly long and fancy name. Interesting differential, given that the AKC (we're just a registry, we keep the pedigree records) is not charged with the task of recording the pedigrees of these animals, nor will those pedigrees continue into the future.

More confusion. Although wolf hybrids of any percentage are strictly verboten from enrollment in the "Canine Partners" scheme, by the curious and physics-challenged requirement that the animal be "... not a wolf or the immediate progeny of a wolf-dog crossbreeding, in the past or in the future" the FSS happily enrolls these wolf-dogs as a "breed."

What it all adds up to is a grab for more power over American dogs and their owners, and especially the breeding of dogs and the development of breeds, presented in PR-friendly way. It's especially targeted at getting control of working dogs -- those breeds and types whose owners and breeders are most likely to seek outside validation of their dogs' trainability and athleticism. ACK has been trying for decades to take credit for working dogs, and accelerated their efforts after 9-11 in the smarmiest way.

What better way to associate oneself with the achievements of others than by killing off any alternative sources of external validation?


*Purple. Hi-rise handlebars. Flowered banana seat. Plastic basket on the front. Yes, those are bell-bottoms caught in the chain. But no sissy-bar. Not a Stingray, either, what, were we the friggin' Rockefellers?

** Those not "sanctioned" by the AKC, and meant for people to practice before entering a sanctioned match or trial. Often hosted by obedience clubs, sometimes by training centers.


  1. "ACK" -- typo? Or commentary?

    I know, I know! It's a dessert topping and a floor wax!

  2. Kind of related, I think:

    I just renewed all the county licenses. Woody was registered (one-year term, not three, at triple the annual cost) as a "show dog." I had to bring his champeen certificate to prove his exalted standing. I also brought his hunt test title certificate, which I am vastly more proud of, because he is a good working dog, is Woody.

    Said the county clerk: "Oh, we don't need that. We don't grant exemptions [from the new mandatory spay-neuter law] for hunting dogs. Just show dogs."

    How screwed up is that? Woody gets to keep his balls because he's a pretty retriever, not because he is one who can actually hunt?

  3. Good to hear that "The Fancy" protected Woody's interests in his cojones, and your right to pay through the nose to keep them. Too bad that the same "yer with us or agin us" screamers were happy with their show-dog exemption and who the hell cares about huntin' dawgs?

    Yeah, you know, I do not exert myself to advocate for anyone's interests in breeding more pageant champions, over and above anyone else's right to make medical decisions for their own animals.

    Difference between me and "The Fancy" is that I admit this. They are screaming about how we must join with the Dark Lord from Madison Avenue to keep the PeTArians at bay, but the truth is, they'd feed my smelly curs to Ingrid Newkirk in a heartbeat if it let them pull another C-sectioned "Specials" pup out of his delicate and oh-so-correct dam.

    What county, incidentally?

    I think you have your own story to post.

    And what about the resident Schnickelfritz/Murgatroyd?

  4. Sacramento. The place where I was born and cannot wait to leave.

  5. Holy crap. And without that "CH" certificate, it would have cost you $150 to keep him legal for a year.

    This information took about fifty increasingly frustrated clicks to obtain, BTW. Sacramento County apparently don't believe in making information too easy to obtain. I guess I wouldn't respect it if it were.

    Wonder what the licensing rates are in Sac. County? Bet they aren't real high among people whose pets have their gonads.

  6. I'm deeply disturbed by the fact that at the same time that AKC opened up performance events to the unwashed masses they also dropped the threshold number of "stock" required for a breed club to enter the fSS program in half - from 300-400 dogs to just 150-200.

    The fact that I'm paranoid doesn't mean that they're not looking for more breeds to take over.

    Black Helicopter Lady

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Revise previous deleted comment.

    Shit, I did not know that.


    But ... that number (both numbers) seemed high.

    The threshold is for moving from the FSS into the Miscellaneous Class.

    No way are there 150 Rafeiro do Alentejo in the US.

    I think that one idjit with like two dogs can open up the FSS.

  9. "My regular readers can probably fill in the wording and tone of my response for themselves."

    Oh, but we'd love to hear it anyway, if for nothing else than our own personal enjoyment.

    When we first got our ES pup we took him to a local trainer (no click training, thank you very much) who was also into trialing his goldens. He immediately saw the potential in our pup, who ran circles around the idiot purebreds in the class, and urged us to think about agility and rally obedience. (We liked the trainer well enough and he was good at what he did, but he did lose points with us when he informed us that our dog couldn't possibly be an ES because "they didn't come in that color" -- Dusty is a shaded sable.) As soon as I read the sterilization rules, I declined, even though I was having him neutered anyway, because it clearly stunk to high heaven, plus I was offended on behalf of my dog. (What, we can win only if we promise not to pass along winning genes?) Thanks for all the back info on this issue, because I was curious.

    Meanwhile, Dusty remains a solid working farmdog and is quite content that way, as well as being an invaluable help to us.

  10. You articulated the issues surrounding the subject well Heather. As usual.

    I do believe they are on track to doing the right thing even if for the wrong reasons. I say bring on ALL dogs and let 'em compete right there along with the rest of us. May the best teams win.

    There are some on the internet who object to the "requirement" for sterilization being only a statement of intent rather than actually having to show proof. They feel it opens the doors for the liars and cheats of the world. I don't have a problem with that. Dedicated liars and cheats are hard to stop.

    What I find humorous is that this provision is the one that would keep my mixed breed dog, if I had one, OUT of performance events. I don't tend to speuter, and I'm not a liar or cheat. No game or certificate is worth risking unnecessary surgery.

    Another objection by the masses is that this plays into the AR agenda of not needing purebred dogs (this validating the idea of stamping out breeders) because now the Pound Puppies can do everything the annointed can do. I admit I can imagine the PETA / HSUS ads without too much difficulty.

    We shall see.

  11. Heather, I've been a fan of your blog for a long time- it's one of my favorites. This post hit home for me and finally prompted me to come out of lurkdom and comment.

    I train with my shelter mutts at an AKC obedience club in the Boston area. I started with them because they offered Rally classes. People in the club range from AKC diehards to AKC haters, but mostly everyone is just here to train their dogs. I've made some good friends, and do what I can to support the club, including helping at our trial, even though my dogs can't (couldn't) compete there.

    As my dogs and I got into training, we started competing in APDT Rally. My younger dog is a good little worker, so I would like to get an obedience title on him eventually. UKC will do just fine, though the trials are few and far between.

    Now, people at the club are saying, "Yay, you can finally compete in AKC!" But somehow I can't bring myself to register.

    You put your finger on one aspect of the problem, though to be honest I'm not really put off by the AKC competing for a market share. Every organization needs income to survive.

    My main issue is that I don't want to be enfolded, any more than I already am, into a group with values so different from my own.

    The AKC advertising blurbs that offend me the most are the ones where they say, "Maybe once you get more into competition, you'll decide to get a purebred!" I'm not some uneducated yokel who needs to be helped to see the light. I've had purebreds. When I was a kid (a long time ago), the common attitude, rightly or wrongly, was that AKC papers were a sign of a quality dog. The AKC has thrown that opportunity away in so many ugly and even immoral ways.

    What I'm for is training every dog, in the way that suits each one best. I don't need the AKC for that.

    And yet, I feel conflicted. In supporting my club, and other training clubs in the area, I'm promoting dog training in general. Also, even though I really don't expect to change the minds of the AKC diehards, I like to bring some issues up for discussion within our group that may not otherwise come up. If you don't participate you don't have a say.

    Anyway, just my perspective. Keep up the great posts! -Diane K

  12. The AKC does not advocate for show dogs exemptions in MSN laws. The AKC opposes MSN laws across the board.

    Some individual show dog fanciers have advocated for show dog exemptions, but from what I've seen most show dog fanciers who oppose MSN laws do not ask for nor would they settle for exemptions. California's AB 1634 had a show dog exemption, but it was strongly opposed by show dog fanciers, and without that opposition it probably would have passed the state legislature.

    Other show dog fanciers, while not advocating for exemptions, present their personal stories about their responsible show dog breeding programs. Since show dog fanciers are the most active people in opposing MSN, some legislators receive an unintentional message that these laws would be OK with an exemption for show dogs.

  13. Perhaps the AKC don't want mutts and purebloods competing side by side because they know the mutts will win.

    Personally, I've never understood the politics of dog breeding. A dog is a dog. Their purpose is to be a loyal companion and helper, preferably bombproof and good with kids. The rest is flash and show.

  14. Just wanted to say that the best analysis of the AKC's new little toy that I've seen yet.

    Among the few who have mentioned it, their reaction has been positive because now, of course, the Aryans (to borrow your wording) are no longer all high and mighty above the loyal muttskie. Then again, these are people who support spay/neuter for every dog, otherwise it'll have puppies popping out it's ears and cancer all over its body within a year.

    I do not share their sentiment and have voiced my opinion that, the AKC will STILL not see any of my money. Their list of wrongs is too long to justify using this one little breakthrough as a candle in the darkness.

    If I'm still living in this area, it is $24 to the county to let a dog keep its nads ($12 is the discounted rate for sterilization, hunting, show, or medically-exempt dogs)...and who knows what they'll be when I'll have my own dog one of these days. I can't believe your rates are so high, Gina...that's just insane, and I agree, I'd be much more proud of a hunting certificate than a pretty show title. Kudos to Woody, anyway.

    Heather, I am with Kris on this one too: we may know how your response to the AKC might have went, but I'd also like to see what landed in their inboxes. Was there any reply to your nasty letter or did they just write you off as a "Not Our Sort"?

  15. Since I don't train for obedience and sheepdog culture is work snobbish not breed snobbish I've not thought much about the this issue. But there's something more important in this than whether the AKC can swell its shrinking coffers and justify their deceptive new motto"We're more than champion dogs. We're the Dog's champion."

    The issue involves: for what do we train? Can we preserve breeds without culling (killing puppies)? Why persist with doggy "rare breeds" like the bulldog and dalmation whose original purposes are extinct? What makes a satisfactory pet dog? Do we need four hundred breeds: why?

    Heather and Gina have me thinking: not always a good thing but it keeps me out of the saloons.

    Donald McCaig

  16. I could not have said it better myself. Seriously, I wish I could but I just don't have the talent with words that you do!

    As a longtime agility competitor I've seen dogs that competed in other organization's events as "All Americans" for years suddenly competing in ACK as an -insert name of breed here- since the beginning of their agility program, courtesy of an ILP registration. Hmmmm? As the proud owner of one of those "All American" dogs ACK still will not see a registration fee from me. Neither will they see any entry fee income from my dual registered (ASCA/AKC) Australian Shepherd. Just don't want to go there.

    I would like to let your readers know that ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) welcomes ALL dogs, regardless of pedigree or lack thereof, into their agility, obedience and soon-to-be rally programs. They also allow any herding breed or mix of herding heritage (think Aussie/ACD or BC/ACD aka Texas Heeler in my part of the country) into their herding trials. Perfect for the English Shepherd folk. You do have to register your non-ASCA registered dog for a nominal fee to obtain a tracking number, but all titles and awards are offered on an equal basis. Learn more at

    In the meantime, my Aussie and my Texas Heeler (who is quite proud of her ASCA agility and obedience titles, thankyouverymuch!) will continue to play in USDAA and ASCA where we don't have to sit in the back of the bus.

    Virginia in Texas (who VERY much enjoys your blog, btw)

  17. Ayezur said...

    Perhaps the AKC don't want mutts and purebloods competing side by side because they know the mutts will win.

    Personally, I've never understood the politics of dog breeding. A dog is a dog. Their purpose is to be a loyal companion and helper, preferably bombproof and good with kids. The rest is flash and show.


    Sorry, but no it's not "flash and show." Many, many dogs are bred for a purpose -- they have jobs to do. And those jobs and the dogs who do them are very, very different from each other. These differences need to be protected, respected and preserved.

    You couldn't get my rescued Sheltie (who is a wonderful pet!) to retrieve a duck in water for love nor money. And you couldn't get my retrievers to avoid swimming if you tried. They are hunting dogs and my beloved companions, and there's a benefit to breeding dogs to do jobs like theirs -- and other jobs, too.

    I value working dogs, and I support their preservation. That doesn't mean tiny, closed gene pools and dog shows, but it does mean breeding for working ability in addition to the qualities of companionship.

  18. Gina,

    Sorry, I could have articulated myself better. I would slot breeding for good working traits under "being a helper." I believe in breeding for work traits and family-friendly traits, like mellowness. This is only sensible.

    What I never understood is the idea that a dog must be purebred to be a Good Dog, and that mutts are somehow less real dogs. I'd say they're more, since they're less likely to be balls of neuroses. Which is why I said "politics of dog breeding," and not "dog breeding." I don't get how a lack of papers make my beautiful Shepard/Malamute any less a proper dog. But apparently it does, in some people's eyes.

  19. No Mischrasse-Hunde get to keep their gonads. Ah, the AKC has just repackaged its old eugenics model. Same wine; different bottle!

    I've never understood most of this in terms of titles. Where I grew up people kept unregistered beagles and bred them for generations to hund. Someone would cross his dogs with blueticks, and another would cross his with dachshunds and even Bassets. And the dogs did their work. People also kept curs and feists, crossing them with Norwegian elkhounds and English shepherds to make them good squirrel dogs.


    Your first golden retriever sounds like my first one, except that mine actually had the coveted papers that said that her ancestors were in the KC registry in 1916 and were of the yellow to red color. If her ancestors' littermates had been black or liver, they would have been flat-coats. If they had been short-haired, they would've been Labradors.

    Originally, that's all that "golden retriever" meant. But the term has changed. Generations of breeding for lots of coat and lots of bone have changed them from the type dog from which these animals descend.

    I've foudn early documents in the golden retriever that tell breeders to start breeding more bone in their dogs and to breed them lighter in color. It's as if the early breeders knew that their dogs were nothing more than a color variant of the flat-coat that had resulted from using Irish setters as outcrosses in that breed.

    Yet the breed club people continue to repeat the lie that the dogs were always almost white in color and very heavily boned. It says so in an official breed history it must be true, and the reason why some early dogs that were originally shown as early golden retrievers were dark in color is because they were interbreeding with black flat-coats! Yes, breeding yellow to red dogs with black ones always darkens the yellow to red color. That's why we see so many red Labradors these days!

  20. Wow, great thoughts in the comments while I was away for a day.

    I cannot forward my response to the dog-show organizer in Mass. because this was in the Before Time, pre-interwebz. Our discussions were via this thing called a "telephone."

    I could probably reproduce something of it, but it would be a recreation, not an accurate remembering.

    The show-dude was obviously shocked. After all, I owned a German shepherd. Why would I be offended on behalf of the baby-killing pit bull and the slinking curs?

    Eleanor, thanks for the dispatch from inside the Fancy discussion. Yes, everything plays into the PeTA agenda. Therefore everyone should do nothing.

    Diane, I remember the AKC floating the balloon about whetting the mutt owners' appetites with competition in a bid to get them to buy a, you know, "more suitable" dog. I found it demeaning, too. I think that was advanced as a justification for the separate-and-unequal initial program.

    I think you and I may have been members of the same obedience club, albeit fifteen years apart.

    Donald, dammit, you've necessitated like five more blog posts in as many questions.

  21. Virginia --

    Yes, ASCA trials are a beacon to all dog owners. Long may they run. Wish there were more around here.

  22. Expanding on LauraS's comment ["The AKC does not advocate for show dogs exemptions in MSN laws"]:

    Dynamic duo Ed Boks and Judy "if you have an intact dog, you're part of the problem" Mancuso penned the Los Angeles MSN ordinances as well as CA's AB 1634. [Sacramento's law is similar.]

    I suspect their boundless, staggering ignorance of dogs is largely to blame for the show exemption wingnuttery here in CA.

    During the AB 1634 fight I sent a ream of messages to a thoughtful individual active on the pro-MSN side. "How can you tell a dog is worth breeding if it doesn't have a title?" this person wondered.

    This post [doG forgive me for the blog pimpage] is an abridged version of my emails. I'm happy to say that my correspondent switched sides, probably from exhaustion after all the reading.

    My cur-dog Smoke was way too ill for neutering when I got him from the pound. If I'd had him "fixed" within a certain time frame the S/N deposit would have been refunded, but he's still got his balls, and I figure the money was better spent elsewhere.

  23. As an FYI
    ASCA does not require All Americans, Lurchers, or other mixes to be s/n. They do not require purebred dogs to either have "papers" or be s/n either.

    I like ASCA and DVG America's attitude, "If it can do the work, it can get the title."

    Melissa Stagnaro
    Alexandria, VA

  24. Wow. As a lifelong AKC person, who who does own purebred dogs but also strongly supports mixed breeds, there's just so much that is completely non-factual in this post that it's almost impossible to know where to start.

    The post is not only extremely offensive, it's just flat wrong in many aspects. Unfortunately I don't have time to write a rebuttal right now, but if anyone would like to hear a reasoned response, and Heather if you're willing to publish one, I'll be happy to write one.

    The reason why I don't have time right now is because as President of our local AKC/UKC Performance club, I must go to our training building to help set up the rings for our UKC Agility, Rally, and Obedience trials this weekend, where of course mixed breeds are welcome. Our club also hosts two AKC agility trials a year, does tracking certifications, CGCs, and are adding AKC Obedience and Rally this fall (and will add Tracking later). We were one of the first on the bandwagon to welcome mixes and were thrilled at AKC's decision last month to make them "equal partners". I also show chair APDT Rally, and compete actively in ASCA agility. In the past I've done Schutzhund as well.

    Posts such as the above spread false information and serve to foster division and enmity when all dog owners should be pulling together. If you want to hear about the AKC from my viewpoint as someone who has been heavily involved in both breed and performance, let me know. I hope you're willing to entertain a different viewpoint. I can be reached at robinjn @ gmail dot com (you know how to fix that)

  25. American Herding Breed Association also allows any dog that can do the work to participate in the trial program. It does restrict to herding breed / mix of herding breed for the entry level "HCT". There's no requirement for intact/neutered and there's no preference for registration -- if you don't have a number from someone, AHBA will give you one just to be sure your "jill" is differentiated from John's jill.

    I do disagree with some of the other poster's comments. Titles may not be something USBCHA/ISDS does but they certainly keep records and post on who wins what, which pretty much amounts to the same thing. Some people like to document their achievements with their dogs. There's nothing wrong with titles in performance per se -- it's the quality of the rules and how they are enforced that matters.

    AKC didn't advocate "show dog only" exemptions. They were late to the party on 1634 and compromised when they didn't need to, but they WERE there. Unfortunately, I did NOT see USBCHA listed as an opponent. Obviously, many people who fought 1634 and similar bills did so out of self-interest. When they got their "type" of dog exempted, they often quit. Mostly, it's "AKC" people fighting the regulations in Los Angeles.
    AKC is a business. They have mostly focused on the rich man's game of doggy beauty contests and rich man's shooting contests. in the performance venue they often take a very "parochial" attitude towards participants, which usually results in lower success than they'd have otherwise. But it could be worse. AKC could be emulating the Swiss, or it could be an arm of the government as is the case in many European countries. At least in the US, one has a choice of AKC or not. Like cars, if you don't like what they offer, you don't need to buy from them.
    Peggy Richter

  26. This is my blog, not a newsgroup or email list.

    You want to present an actual argument or data in a comment -- which Robin has declined to do, as she's "too busy" -- have at it.

    You want my blog to showcase your particular views -- thank you for playing, but you are not a winner.

  27. Robin did not decline to do anything. She said she was too busy to deal with it AT THAT MOMENT and listed reasons why.

    When someone is totally entrenched in their position, they become deaf to any point of view which does not agree with theirs. All cats are indeed black if you only sit in the dark. Which is truly unfortunate since there is much that people of differing opinions can learn from each other if they are willing to actually treat each other as intelligent human beings and listen.

    Heather has declared this is not a discussion list; fair enough, it's not. What I heard from that, unfortunately, is "I don't want to hear anything but agreement to anything I write, so don't tell me." I wish that wasn't her position since I think we could learn from each other.

    Too bad. Again, I'm more than willing to discuss this privately with anyone, even people who want to tell me how evil I am for actually sticking up for the AKC. I can be reached at robinjn @ gmail dot com.

  28. "Have at it." Does this require a translation? Too idiomatic?

    As in, comments here are unmoderated, and only commercial spam and genuine trolls are removed. In fact, so far I believe I have only had to remove commercial spam.

    So now Robin comes into MY salon, apparently having never entered before, and essentially accuses me of censorship because she has twice used the comments to whine "You are SOOO wrong," but has not presented a single fact or argument to support her position (position summed up: "you are wrong.")

    She has time to post twice on my blog to complain about my temerity in holding an opinion and presenting facts and arguments in support of that opinion in a place where anyone with interest can access those facts and arguments and accept or reject any part of the opinion. (Which makes me kind of wonder, does Robin "get" this whole blog concept?)

    But again, not a single fact or argument to support whatever it is -- no one knows, as she hasn't given us a clue -- she claims is the real story. (Does she have there in her hand a list of the 205 factual errors presented in this blog post?)

    Here's an example of a fact, presented in one short declarative sentence:

    There is no way for the owner of a non-AKC purebred dog to compete with him in AKC events unless the dog is sterilized.

    (Okay, fair enough, for this to be a jenyoowine fact I should have added "without cheating" after the word "events.")

    Here's an example of an argument that follows from that and other facts, presented in one medium-length, compound sentence:

    What it all adds up to is a grab for more power over American dogs and their owners, and especially the breeding of dogs and the development of breeds, presented in PR-friendly way.

    Was that so hard?

    Robin has posted about 23 sentences in two comments thus far, and has not presented a single fact that is relevant to whatever her position may be (AKC is hunky-dory? All dog owners owe it their allegiance because of its long history of good works?) She had time to dazzle us with her resume of good works for dogs, but not time to present a fact relevant to this discussion.

    As for "argument," the closest thing I can see is a pale evocation of the Faux-News style "Obey the ACK or They are coming to take your dog" threat that grows rather tiresome on the seven millionth repetition.

    Robin, my comments remain open. But more to the point, you apparently have five blogs of your own. Perhaps you could use some or all of those bully pulpits to find your facts and see if you can't cobble them together to support some sort of argument for whatever position it is that I am "wrong" about.

    You know, concept of this whole "blog" thing again?

  29. It's too bad Robin didn't have time to discuss the pluses of AKC even though she had time for two other posts, because it would be possible to argue on AKC's behalf. Yes, they are snobs. The AKC was founded as a rich man's club and "purebred" dogs were a rich man's possession. So there were beauty shows and rich man's bird dog trials. The "other" activities were only added much much later. One can debate if AKC added agility, herding, etc because it's members demanded it or if they added it to gain new members or keep their middle class members, but they DID add it. And opening up to mix breeds may have been done again, more with a view for revenue than "this is what we should have done all along", but they have at least done that. Is the AKC still keeping it's "snob" view regarding "not in our registry"? I expect to some degree they are. But I also believe some of the "spay/neuter" is due to the belief in AKC that one can "only" have a mix as a "pet"- just as they don't really recognize the field type dogs as legitimate, they haven't quite wrapped their minds around purpose-bred mixes. So they can't figure that someone might want an INTACT mix for breeding or even just because that individual felt that an intact dog is a better / healthier performer. If one looks at how AKC treats obedience and the other performance venues, you can see that it isn't "just" purebred snobbery. It's really that they still can't quite believe that a bench dog isn't superior in all ways to a field dog. After all, it's so much more "refined". Give them another 10-20 years and they might join the 20th century (date intended). Peggy.

  30. Peggy writes:
    Titles may not be something USBCHA/ISDS does but they certainly keep records and post on who wins what, which pretty much amounts to the same thing.

    No, it doesn't pretty much amount to the same thing.

    For those unfamiliar with AKC/ASCA/AHBA titles, they work like this:

    There is a small arena. There are dog-broke sheep in the arena. Given the chance, these tame sheep will follow you, and all your dog has to do is walk behind them along the fence line. As the handler you may, in many cases, move around almost anywhere you want in the arena. Your dog may nip the sheep; he may chase them from one end of the arena to the other [and still get a "qualifying score" if they follow you back to the fence line]; and he may lose interest in them completely while he sniffs at the fence and contemplates his surroundings. He can enter as many trials as his handler can afford in order to obtain the two or three "qualifying scores" necessary for a "herding title."

    And that "herding title" is considered [by people who do not know much about working livestock with dogs] to be evidence that he can "herd." In some circles -- parts of the California state legislature, for example -- herding titles are even considered to be official proof of your dog's merit: proof he belongs in the gene pool.

    Which is BS.

    The idea that all of that is "pretty much the same" as placing at an Open trial like Zamora, let alone qualifying for the USBCHA Finals, just beggars belief. [For one thing, neither the USBCHA nor the ISDS could care less who wins at Novice, Pro-Novice and such.] ISDS dogs qualify for the International by placing in the National trials, and US dogs earn berths at the Finals by placing at Open trials. The top 150 qualify. Yes, record-keeping is involved, but this is not the same thing as giving a "herding title" to any dog with a pulse.

    The USBCHA and the ISDS actually do award titles, but with a more discriminating eye than the AKC et al: each year the title of Champion is given to the dog who wins the International [UK], and to the dog who wins the National [US]. [No "CH" is affixed to the dog's name. People just know.] Here's the 2009 International Supreme Champion: Tweed. That's a fence in the distance, but Tweed's first packet of sheep is 800 yards away and they'll never get near it. And the handler can't leave the post until the pen and the shed.

  31. Luisa said... For those unfamiliar with AKC/ASCA/AHBA titles, they work like this:
    There is a small arena.

    ==sometimes. Sometimes it’s an open field. I suggest you take a look at the rules for an HRD course (AHBA) or Ranch Trial dog /PATD course (ASCA) or even a B course (AKC) and look at the maximum sizes. You’ll find that there aren’t any for AHBA. MANY of the HRD courses (the most popular) take place on open ranches. At least some of the HRD and RLF courses have taken more than an hour in duration, unlike the standard USBCHA course.

    There are dog-broke sheep
    ==unless of course, they are Barbadoe, which aren’t used at Meeker (see or here from the Zamora trials or in ISDS (where they use commercial farm type sheep). Or of course they aren’t sheep. They are cattle – in ASCA, you can get these right off the range (has happened to me more than once). Occasionally they are ducks, geese or goats. In ASCA and AHBA, the titles distinguish what the dog ran in.

    in the arena. Given the chance, these tame sheep will follow you, and all your dog has to do is walk behind them along the fence line.
    == hard to do in the advance class or in B course or in most HRD, PATD or Ranch Trial courses.

    The idea that all of that is "pretty much the same" as placing at an Open trial like Zamora,
    ==which is not what I said. The comment was that USBHA doesn’t give out titles. My comment was that they certainly RECORD who did what which amounts to the same thing. I said nothing about the quality. I will say that some of the Open level USBCHA handlers and their dogs have been beat on AHBA courses by “non” USBCHA dogs.

    “ this is not the same thing as giving a "herding title" to any dog with a pulse” == with all due respect, this is not what happens. Even Dodie Green agreed that this is not what happens.

    “And the handler can't leave the post until the pen and the shed.” – which is the same as HTD and B course. The difference in AKC, by the way, is that you cannot qualify unless you get the pen AND at least a split (with 50% of the points remaining) – in One man and his Dog the team won their semifinals at the Nationals with a zero on their pen.

    I am not going to argue ISDS/USBCHA vs “anything else” because it is like arguing about having a springer to a pointer person. I will say that the comments indicate that maybe you haven’t tried working cattle on foot in an arena and doing the “A” course. Or doing it with range cattle on an ASCA course.

  32. Peggy, you're right: I've never run a dog on any AKC course, though I've spectated.

    ASCA, yes. My good dog Bracken won High Combined Score [cattle and sheep] at the Cayucos Cup ASCA trial back in the day, so I've been on foot in an arena with range cattle. [It was a pleasure: Kathy Warren's cattle are worked by her terrific Aussies, and they responded nicely to my good girl.] Bracken was still running in Novice at the border collie trials back then.

    I don't want this to be mistaken for a "specialists good, generalists bad" rant, because there's no point. We all know which breed gets a $23,000 bid at Red Bluff, and it ain't the Rottweiler. At the same time, dogs that are generalists totally rock. Right now I'm in love with the terrific "meat, hide and stock dogs" of the South: the Mountain Cur, the Lacy, the Blackmouth Cur, the Catahoula.

    My beef is that AKC gives frikkin' titles for "herding" so elementary and in many cases so shoddily done and so stressful to the stock that the judges should hang their head in shame. [The ASCA trials and AHBA trials I've seen have been much better when it comes to stockmanship. Still: titles for the most basic stuff.]

    When owners think a title means "my dog can herd," that's one thing.

    But we've reached a point where some state legislators believe that titles make a dog so special he should keep his balls, and untitled dogs should be required by law to lose theirs, and that's just scary. It means a Sheltie that can follow dog-broke sheep down a fence line is considered by some lawmakers to be more worthy of a place in the gene pool than the dog that wins at Zamora. That's not just offensive -- it's insane.

    Again: the USBCHA and the ISDS neither record nor give a tinker's damn about your dog's wins in Novice or Pro-Novice or Ranch. Most working-bred sheepdogs can do that stuff. Until your dog can get around an Open course, nothing matters.

    One last comment on your comment: Barbs, like other varieties of hair sheep, become dog-broke knee-knockers just like other sheep breeds. They tend to be easy for a dog to move, which I imagine is one reason they are common at AKC trials, at least the AKC trials I've seen. [They also need less food than wool breeds and no shearing, which makes them ideal for small hobby flocks.] One reason Barbs aren't used at trials like Meeker and Zamora is that it would make those trials too easy. Our western range ewes regularly defeat eastern dogs accustomed to hair sheep. Undogged range ewes are the biggest challenge most North American sheepdogs can expect to face, which is what makes trials like Meeker, Soldiers Hollow and Zamora so terrific.

    Upcoming USBCHA trials

    Upcoming herding events: AKC/ASCA/AHBA trials [western U.S.]

  33. None of the dogs at Red Bluff this year got $23,000. The top dog sold for $10,500 and was a Kelpie.

    Which is fine. Rotties weren't created to work difficult cattle even before the show ring. My issue with the USBCHA, ABCA etc, was their absence during the fight against 1634. You don't like the fact that legislators were going to use "titles" as a criteria. Neither did I or others. ON the OTHER hand, one of the considerations that was discussed was that IF 1634 passed, to reinstate the old "herding instinct certificate" and lower the minimum age so that those who had working dogs could easily "certify" and get an exemption. Fortunately it didn't come to that. But while lambasting the show crowd -- it was those folk who DID show up and help fight 1634 and the CA bills from this session. The show folk, the "protection sport" folk, lure coursing folk -- but NOT the USBCHA or the working BC registries. AHBA has a letter up on it's website in opposition to mandatory spay/neuter
    I'd love to see something of the same from USBCHA.

  34. The ABCA was actively opposed to AB 1634 from the beginning:
    Letter 1
    Letter 2

    The letters are on the ABCA website. Geri Byrne and other ABCA/USBCHA members were instrumental in convincing state legislators to oppose the bill.

    Look, it's me!

    More opposition. Eileen Stein was Pres of the ABCA then, and fought AB 1634 from the start.

    Much more [pages and pages] on le blog. Save Our Dogs linked to me. *is proud*

    Members of the ABCA and the USBCHA worked as hard as anyone to kill this legislation.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. I'd like to add to what Luisa said about ABCA opposition to AB1634. In addition to the two letters on the ABCA website which Luisa linked, we mailed and faxed many more. My records show an additional letter to Assembly members on May 25,2007, and letters to Senate Committee members and other Senators on June 20, 2007, July 2, 2007, July 9, 2007, August 6, 2008 and August 8, 2008. Indeed, there may have been more, since the situation was often chaotic, and idiotic amendments were coming thick and fast, necessitating new, targeted responses.

    I do assure you that the working border collie registry participated actively and fully in the effort to stop AB1634.

    Eileen Stein

  37. Eleen wrote:
    I do assure you that the border collie registry participated actively and fully in the effort to stop AB1634.
    == That's good to know, because none of the BC registries or herding groups is listed here: I know I and others contacted the cattlemen's assn and the CA Woolgrowers assn on behalf of AHBA, who IS listed there. The same applies for SB 250 the 2009 bill on spay/neuter --
    And the same applies on AB 241 --
    on AB 243, they didn't list any opposition even though it existed. The same applies to AB 1122 the "selling of live animals" bill

    It's perhaps somewhat interesting that the BC groups are all absent from the lists of opponents to these bills. Whatever one may think of "AKC" and "AKC breeds", there were a large number of these folks who stepped up and were counted. You don't have to like AKC nor think much of their various performance programs to recognize that their opposition was significant on these bills.
    VR. Peggy Richter

  38. Peggy Richter wrote:

    << That's good to know, because none of the BC registries or herding groups is listed here: >>

    Look again. On page 23, the American Border Collie Association (ABCA, the working registry) is the 18th name listed under "Opposition."

    We were also among the opponents listed on, although that list is no longer there.

    As I recall, AKC, while initially opposing 1634, flipped at a crucial moment near the end and withdrew its opposition. When Levine et al. reneged on something AKC felt it had been promised, it flopped back again.

    I don't really know what your point is. AKC and related groups advocate in accordance with their self-interest. I wouldn't expect otherwise. But that doesn't come close to outweighing their bad stuff, IMO.

    Eileen Stein

  39. Ah, here's the post on the Canine Partners.

    I'm working backwards through your archives.


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