Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Kennel Club Is Not Full of Evil People... It is Full of People Desperately Seeking Social Status

A segment from a post I wrote in 2005:

The Kennel Club is a huge money-making bureaucracy dependent upon selling people on the "exclusivity" of a closed registry and a scrap of paper that says a dog is a "pure breed". So long as people are willing to buy Kennel Club registered dogs that have predictably higher chances of serious physical impairments than cross-bred dogs, the Kennel Club (and Kennel Club breeders) have little motivation to change the way they do business.

Let me hasten to say that the Kennel Club is not filled with evil people intent on doing harm to dogs. It is, in fact, filled with regular people who are different from the rest of the world only in the degree, and the way, they seek ego-gratification and are status-seeking.

This last point is import: the Kennel Club is not primarily about dogs. Dogs do not care about ribbons, pedigrees, titles, and points. These are human obsessions. The reason a human will drive several hundred miles and stand around all day waiting for 10 minutes in the ring is not because of the dog, but because the human needs that ribbon, that title, and that little bit of extra status that comes from a win.

Each to his own, but let us be honest about what dog shows are about -- they are about ribbons for people. The dogs themselves could not give a damn.

It is unfair to fault individual breeders and breed clubs for the failures of the Kennel Club, as these smaller units are powerless to change the larger whole.

Breed clubs are small and largely impotent by design. Because the Kennel Club does not require breeders, pet owners, or even show ring ribbon-chasers to join a breed club as a condition of registration, these entities remain small, underfunded, and unrepresentative.

Breed clubs, like dog shows themselves, are also steeped in internecine politics and dominated by big breeders and people who over-value "conformation."

It is only by conforming to the AKC system for decades that anyone can hope to move up in the AKC hierarchy -- a situation that guarantees intellectual and bureaucratic inbreeding.
In the end, the AKC is a closed registry in every sense of that word. It continues to embrace the failed genetic theories of Victorian England because it is incapable of serious reform within the Club itself. 

1 comment:

jeffrey thurston said...

Good post- although in my case and that of many of your readers it's preaching to the choir. When I go to the park now I feel kinda sorry for the purebred dogs and their owners- I know it's psychological but I feel I can see the inherent weakness of the breed dogs- especially compared to my ferocious little Jacks. I live in a very liberal part of the country so most people I meet aren't proud purebred owners but rather rescuers. There are also many pit type dogs I see and they brim with crossbred health and vitality. (again- probably psychological on my part). Anywhoo- your blog has made me embrace what I knew instinctively- the whole ribbon chasing thing is absurd IMO. When I see vets on television (Dogs 101 etc.) I get frankly angry at their blase attitude towards the long lists of genetic problems they see in purebreds. I feel more of them should speak out about the AKC.