Page 164 - ShowSight - August 2019
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                Four Periods of the American Purebred: Our Relationship With... BY DAN SAYERS continued
  Painted by Robert Lougheed, this idyllic scene of three Poodles, a boy and a bicycle exemplifies mid-century America’s idyllic relationship with the purebred dog. Artwork courtesy Man’s Best Friend: National Geographic Book of Dogs, Revised Edition.
and personal with a purebred and engage with the exhibitors. However, the 1960s and ‘70s was also a time of sweeping eco- nomic and social changes. The assassina- tion of President Kennedy in 1963 signaled an end to the innocence of the 1950s. The anti-war and civil rights movements chal- lenged American identity as did the rise of a counterculture that was keen on social revo- lution. For many dog fanciers of the day, the predictability of the dog show calendar offered a safe haven from the tumult. When the American Kennel Club Centennial Dog Show and Obedience Trial was held in Phil- adelphia in 1984, the dog sport in America was as strong as it had ever been. Registra- tions continued to grow as did the number of show-giving clubs. Obedience continued to draw entries at most shows, promoted by the phenomenon of the celebrity dog train- er thanks to the miracle of cable television. But many challenges lay ahead for the sport. When Agility burst onto the scene in the 1980s, its fast pace signaled a steady decline in Obedience entries. Likewise, entries at Conformation shows could not keep up with the proliferation of events. Though exhibitors had more shows to enter, fewer and fewer majors were on offer. And as entries fell, so too did the numbers of actual dogs competing. But the greatest challenges to beset the dog sport were, perhaps, due to the creation of the World Wide Web. When this web browser was offered to the general public in 1991, it ushered in the Information Age that was to become the primary tool used by billions of people around the world to search for information For dog fanciers, the Internet signaled an end to the AKC’s
dominance as a registry. Online “registries” were soon indistinguishable from the real thing and they also provided a place for mixed-breed dogs. Puppies of dubious par- entage were soon marketed as “purebred” and the general public couldn’t tell the dif- ference. The era of the Designer Dog had been born, and as the sport continued along a predictable course it was faced with even greater challenges in the New Millenium.
No one could have predicted the mag- nitude of changes brought about by the Internet. Its omnipresence in all aspects of our lives has literally changed how we do things—including breeding and show- ing purebred dogs. In the span of about 20 years, everything changed. Newspa- pers have been replaced by newsfeeds and shopping apps are the new shopping malls. Cars talk, but teenagers don’t. Instead, they text. A lot. The mobile phone has become both telephone and typewriter. It’s also become a tape recorder, alarm clock and camera. Thanks to cell phones, everybody is now an expert photographer, dietician and navigator. (Why bother to learn where you’re going if you’ve got a GPS to tell you how to get there?) The amount of infor- mation that’s available at our finger tips is astounding by any measure. But it’s also troubling in many ways, particularly for activities and industries that are rooted in the system of gaining knowledge through experience that can then be passed on to the next generation. Such is the case with the sport of dogs. It’s no secret that today’s experienced breeders are finding it diffi- cult to mentor younger people whom they view as “know-it-alls.” But whose really to blame? Millennials hardly resemble previ- ous generations. Today’s junior handlers were born in the 21st century and they’ve always had access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They’ve also only ever experienced a world at war. They grew up during the Great Recession and many have experienced the pain of losing their family home or watched helplessly as a par- ent succumbed to drug addiction. Some have lived-it-all every bit as much as they know-it-all. Though some senior members of the fancy bemoan the failings of today’s youth and long for days gone by, the future of purebred dogs in America depends on utilizing the skillsets of every generation of dog lovers. Senior breeders have a lifetime of experience and wisdom to share, whereas juniors easily embrace emerging technolo- gies and can use them to promote our cause. Think of the excitement that could be gen- erated on social media if every junior posted a “selfy” with his or her dog on the same day. Imagine how many Facebook users
would see those pics if we all shared them on our pages. The impact could counter some of the anti-purebred rhetoric that’s been gaining traction ever since Hurricane Katrina made news back in 2005. Those images of dogs being pulled from flood- waters encouraged viewers of cable TV to jump on the “rescue” bandwagon. Togeth- er with the doodle craze, the rescue thing could only exist in a world where someone in New Hampshire can learn about a dog in need in New Orleans. Oh, wait! That’s this world. Technology has made it possible for breeders to preserve, protect and promote their dogs by reaching billions of Internet users in real time. If rescue organizations and breeders of Schnoodles can connect with potential puppy people, why haven’t breeders of purpose-bred dogs been able to do so with equal success? Could it be that we’ve been too busy yearning for the nos- talgia of past generations that we’ve allowed the future of purebred dogs in America to become uncertain?
Time Period: 1884-1923 Human/Canine Bond: Based on Hunting Reference Book Title:
The Sporting Dog
Subject: Sportsman’s Guide Author: Joseph A. Graham Year Published: 1904
Most Popular Breeds:
Collie, Boston Terrier, English Setter
Time Period: 1924-1963 Human/Canine Bond:
Based on Service
Reference Book Title:
The National Geographic Book of Dogs Subject: All-Breed Encyclopedia Author: National Geographic Society Year Published: 1958
Most Popular Breeds:
Beagle, Chihuahua, Poodle
Time Period: 1964-2003 Human/Canine Bond:
Based on Competition
Reference Book Title: No Bad Dogs Subject: Dog Training
Author: Barbara Woodhouse
Year Published: 1982
Most Popular Breeds:
Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher
Time Period: 2004-Present Human/Canine Bond: Based on Empathy Reference Book Title:
101 Salivations: For the Love of Dogs
Subject: Dog Photography
Author: Rachael Hale
Year Published: 2003
Most Popular Breeds:
Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Beagle
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