Page 88 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 88

Continuing breed education starts and continues with you as a lifelong learn- er, whether you are a judge, breeder, exhibitor, or owner. What you put into the additional learning experience, is what you get out of it.
In the last issue, we looked at the working aspects of the seminar day for the learner and seminar presenter, as well as the rest of the implementation aspects by the seminar(s) coordinator. In this last of the series, we’ll discuss continuing education for judges, breeders, exhibitors and owners.
Knowledge of the evolution of a breed to what it is today is an ongoing discovery that encompasses not only the physical and mental aspects of a breed, but also the influence of the cultures or peoples that developed a breed. As is often the case, societal and situ- ational influences change over time and their effects on our canine friends is evident.
As of mid-2018 there were close to 350 recognized dog breeds in the world, with the AKC recognizing 202, the FCI recognizing 344, and the KC recognizing 211. Can one really know the nuances of 202 breeds, or 211 or 344? In breeds where there are strong situational influences, the differences between breeds truly turns on the nuance. To be able to recognize if a sole specimen is a good one versus just average, or to distinguish between similar breeds based on the nuances, makes one a better arbiter of dogs. In order to achieve that, continuing education is a must.
Let’s start with the breeder, owner, and exhibitor (B-O-E) and how continuing edu- cation plays a role in their development and the breeding and exhibiting of high-quality breed specimens. The assumption here is that the B-O-E has been well grounded in their breed’s history, standard, and has one or more mentors in their chosen breed.
What do you, the B-O-E, do to gain additional insight or knowledge into your breed? Do you regularly attend your National Specialty show? Do you seek to discuss the breed with highly knowledgeable, longtime and successful breeders? Do you not only study pedigrees, but do you also seek to gain an understanding of each ancestor’s structure, movement, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, and their propensity to pass on good (and bad) traits? A pedigree may look great on paper, but what is it really telling you? In order to breed and exhibit better dogs the judgements begin before the whelping box, and more importantly, before the mating even occurs.
If your breed is one that had a “job” or still has a job, be it herding, guarding, retriev- ing waterfowl or upland game, etc., have you attended those activities where your breed exhibits what it was bred to do, or a simulation of that? Moreover, do you participate in activities where your breed does its “job”? It is recognized that many of us do not live in areas that have ready access to observe and/or participate in these “jobs”. However, in order to truly understand and evaluate a breed, I believe that a good observational understanding of the work ethic and working manner of a breed is necessary. There are many Sporting, Hound, Working, and Herding breeds that still “work” for a liv- ing today. Sporting breeds can be found accompanying their owners on a duck, goose, pheasant, or quail hunt, for instance. Most Coonhound breeds actively and non-com- petitively night hunt for raccoon or day hunt for larger game. The community of Beagle and Basset Hound hunters that harvest rabbits for the dinner table exists throughout the country. Bloodhounds are active partners with law enforcement in searching for people.

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