Dogs In Review Magazine October 2016 - Page 23

HOW I SEE IT GRETCHEN BERNARDI 20 The Most Important Clubs of All P a pretty good job, however unfair their methods. Many new arent Clubs. What are they, really? And what is their owners didn’t like it and complained that what was needed was function, their purpose, the reason they even exist? a more democratic, open and inviting atmosphere and, over the Why do we give them such a place of importance? And years, that’s exactly what they got, sometimes through elections are they fulfilling their primary mission? and sometimes through the gradual fading away of what was The AKC defines Parent Clubs in the bylaws, sort of: “It shall regarded as the ruling class. No one lives forever. be the duty and privilege of each parent member Specialty Club Some Parent Clubs today still operate within that oldto define precisely the true type of the breed ... which it was fashioned framework. Some of the breeds with the largest organized to promote and improve … [Its] definition when registration numbers have relatively small memberships. But approved by the Board of Directors of the AKC shall and will if we look at the clubs of the past and at those current clubs be recognized … as the sole standard of excellence for which that still operate in a less democratic manner, who is to say such breed… shall be bred and by which specimens … must be which is better, which philosophy serves the breeds better? judged.” This talks about improving and promoting dogs, and I’m ashamed to admit, and I’m sure readers will not be surit addresses the standards. But we know our Parent Clubs are prised to learn, that I was part of that much more than that. early move for change, for modernizaCertainly it’s a heavy responsibility to tion, for more democracy. But today I be the one organization in charge of so It’s a heavy have doubts about which method has much, of virtually all aspects of a breed responsibility to be the best results. It now seems many of within the world of AKC, especially conthe one organization our Parent Clubs are in a transitional sidering that the entire sport of purebred stage, struggling without the guidance dogs could not exist without our individin charge of so much. of the past that came from those leadual breeds. And certainly the quality of ers we regarded as too rigid, too elitist. our dogs will depend, in the end, largely We’ve lost the wisdom of the past and have not yet learned on the guidance given to breeders. But are all of the Parent how to go forward without it. But, as we say, that was then… Clubs fulfilling that responsibility, or is much of their time and energy taken up by administrative details? And why are so many club members fighting among themselves? A Parent Club’s Main Duty To the credit of most Parent Clubs, they have taken their ownership of the breed standards seriously, protecting them Changes Over the Years against unnecessary changes, against trying to fit the standard So many things were different when many of us first joined our to the dog, while addressing deficiencies and lack of clarity Parent Clubs. Those were the days when those who are now when necessary. But have they fully taken on the task of the so strongly anti-elitism would have had legitimate reasons to interpretation of those standards? When issues of the health complain. Some Parent Clubs were anything but welcoming to of purebred dogs in the United Kingdom first arose, the Kennew owners, and considerations were given to aspects about nel Club addressed the issue by, in some cases, demanding prospective members that had little to do with their ability to changes in the breed standards. But many participants in the keep and care for a dog. When my husband and I first applied for sport, breeders and exhibitors, believed that the problem was membership to our Parent Club, we were immediately suspect not the written word, but the interpretation of those words. because we were from the Midwest, or at least not from a part In order to avoid such an unlikely scenario in this country, of the Midwest with which they were familiar, that is, not Chicait would be wise for Parent Clubs to help breeders and espego. And what kind of last name is Bernardi? Were they Italian? cially judges understand that problems are not caused by the The ladies and gentlemen who ran the breed clubs undoubtstandards themselves, but by extreme interpretations. Who is edly had only the best in mind for their breeds and protected explaining that “can be aloof with strangers” does not mean it’s them the only way in which they were experienced: with a little all right to bite people they don’t know? Who is explaining that, suspicion and a whole lot of snobbishness. But just as the first working within the standards, the dogs should be able to perMayor Daley (the mayor of Chicago from 1955-1976) was able to run a great city and run it well, those early club officers did CONTINUED ON PAGE 26