Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Question Of Ethics

Well, 'Drew and I are back from the regional specialty show and then another two day show at Dixon. We didn't enter either of them for reasons that may become obvious.
Mostly, though, there are questions we are pondering about the dog show world and, in particular, why it is that people will resort to just about anything to win.

When a regional club for a given breed holds a specialty, and will be involved in taking care of the judge (whether it be picking him or her up from the airport, taking him or her out to dinner, and so on), should the members of the club's governing committee enter (or be allowed to enter) their dogs in the show? Wouldn't doing so, at a minimum, raise the appearance of impropriety? And, if one of the club committee member's dog then wins the show, doesn't it raise the spectre of actual impropriety?

Many clubs state right on their premium lists that "Out of courtesy to our exhibitors members of the this kennel club will not enter or exhibit dogs at this show." Good for them. They are exhibiting some ethics. Unfortunately, that was not the case this weekend. Perhaps the answer to the question about a club member's dog winning under such circumstances comes in the song lyrics, "Why would you want to take that stolen thing, and what real happiness can it bring?"

Let's take this supposition one step further. Suppose you are appointed judge of the show and that one of the dogs you have bred is entered: would you not recuse yourself from judging? If not, wouldn't the most basic tenets of ethical conduct compel you to refrain from picking that dog as the winner? Not in the show world.
The show world, perhaps more than anything else, demonstrates the difference between dogs and humans. For we dare say that Lord Byron is rolling over in his grave today:

"Oh man! thy feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame."

We think Byron would agree with what Lewis Mumford wrote on ethics over 50 years ago.

"Qualitative discrimination and selection and quantitative control are both essential elements in an ethics of development. Where their practice is not deeply ingrained in custom and habit and conscious self-direction, a disordered life will result. Who in our time has not witnessed and participated in this disorder? - often with a false feeling of emancipation and pride, coming directly from the fact that we had overthrown old rules and norms on the supposition that they had no place in a universe interpreted by the sciences. And one does not have to seek far to detect such sinners: one need only honestly examine one's own life. Once the constant need for discrimination and self-direction is admitted, as an unfailing condition for truly human life, every day becomes a day of reckoning."
(Lewis Mumford, The Conduct of Life, p. 147 (1951).)

That day has yet to arrive for all too many. And that is a sad commentary on the condition of man.



Gizmosav said...

Oh Satchie...unbelievable!!!...and mom and dad were considering entering moi in shows in the USA...if this is the conduct present, and carried out by the judges, what would they want to involve me in this for? In Canada, the judges appear to still carry enough morals that this would not happen.
Way to obstain, there is a time for everything, and this is not the time.
Bravo my friend.

Flanaghan the Newfie said...

Way to go Satchie -- we know some of those people and they have all the ethics of a tick.

Your buddy,

Flanaghan the Newfie

Clyde (I'm a Newfie Too) said...

Good lord, what a bunch of jerks. Get out of the show world Satchie and back to the beach -- and bring Andrew!


JB said...

Don't put up with it -- go to AKC and demand action and accountability.


Archie said...

Hi Guys -

It was really nice to meet you Satchie, and I hope to meet Andrew soon. I think these folks you've written about are doing Newfies a huge disservice and, as you note, have learned nothing from their Gentle Giants.

CDS said...

Hi Satchel,

Not all AKC judges have such shallow scruples, and some are very interested in judging according to breed standard. Perhaps one ought to look to the ethics of the NCNC instead of dissing the entire show world. Showing dogs, whether it is for conformation, agility, obedience, rally, schutzhund,search and rescue, or water rescue, continues to keep the best interest of the dog in mind, regardless of the personal agenda of the club, organization, or judges involved. A judge only has an opinion; the dog owner, luckily, has the good fortune of the companionship of the dog. This is truly all that matters.

Friendship first,

Your Friend,