Page 52 - Top Notch Toys September 2019
P. 52

                JUNIOR DOG BREEDING—
 Four years ago I published an article that talked about starting acad- emies for Junior Dog Breeders. The article generated some inter-
est, but as far as I know it did not gen- erate any new young breeders, or any new approaches to teaching breeding skills to young people. The statistics on the number of purebred dogs and litters produced every year is validat- ing the trouble many of our breeds will have surviving into the next two decades. Last year, 16 Bedlington lit- ters were registered. My own breed is on a fast track to extinction if we don’t start identifying, training and pro- moting new breeders.
Many of the ideas I hear others talk about focus on the AKC Junior Show- manship program as a place to start. They suggest mandatory service in all-breed or breed clubs that put on dog shows. They suggest using a trip to Westminster as a reward for breed- ing and showing a dog. They suggest encouraging more very young people to travel with professional handlers to learn the care of multiple dogs. I think many of those ideas have merit, but none of them will encourage breed- ing because they all use handling a nice dog as a reward. This practically guarantees all children involved in
by Jacquelyn Fogel
these programs will learn to value ex- hibiting far more than breeding. That has been my biggest argument against the current AKC Junior Showman- ship program. The “reward” for doing something with your dog is always win- ning a ribbon at a dog show—hopefully the really big ribbon. That teaches a love for competition, but it certainly does not teach a love for breeding dogs. The motivator and the rewards are both wrong to encourage what we really need—more breeders. Most Juniors spend 3-4 years showing the same dog, probably one that someone else bred. The training of that dog, and the grooming and presentation of that dog use up all of their time. They practice endlessly with their one dog, perfecting every minute detail of the performance. Many years ago Juniors were required to exchange dogs in the ring, and were judged on how well they handled the new dog. I understand why the practice was discontinued, but at least it forced the Juniors to show a dog with which they had little familiarity. It was a test of actual handling skills, not just a test of a practiced performance.
I don’t want to disparage any of the ideas—some of them are actu- ally pretty good, but the rewards are
still winning at a big show with a dog someone else has bred. I particularly like the idea of mandatory service in a show-giving club before anyone can become a licensed handler. Most young people have no idea how shows get put together, or the amount of work individuals put in to make sure shows run smoothly. Not only should they become members, but they should show evidence that they successfully served on a subcommittee or two. Tell me about the issues involved in setting up reserved grooming or find- ing stewards. Tell me how you would encourage more spectators to come watch the show ad why that’s impor- tant, or how you would handle RV parking. And then explain why giving up a weekend of showing to help your club can actually benefit your career. Working for a handler will teach the care and grooming of multiple dogs, but it doesn’t teach breeding. It can teach the discipline necessary to manage several client dogs, and figure out how to get them groomed and into rings on time. It can teach you good sportsmanship, how to say please and thank you, and how to be publicly polite to people while your internal anger rages. It should teach you how to form a business relationship with
  52 • Top NoTch Toys, sepTember 2019
to make sure shows run smoothly.”

   50   51   52   53   54