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Tag: dog shows

Crufts 2016: Another choice of scandals

Just like last year, Crufts offered up a choice for discerning scandal mongers as the world’s most prestigious dog show came to a close in the UK over the weekend.

Before the dog hair had been cleared away from the NEC in Birmingham, charges of nepotism were swirling after it was revealed judge Di Arrowsmith awarded best gundog to a Gordon setter partly owned and bred by her sister, Josie Baddely.

And animal advocates and others were raising a stink about the Kennel Club judges awarding best in breed to a German shepherd who would have been a walking exemplar of the direction breeders had long been trying to take the breed in — that slinky appearance, with a sloped back and hind legs that seem to trail far behind the rest of the animal.

He would have been an exemplar of that, at least, had the dog had been able to walk.

First, because it’s a little more clear-cut, we’ll deal with the nepotism.

Arrowsmith insisted she awarded the prize on the dog’s merits.

“When I adjudicate, I do so without fear or favor,” she told the Daily Mail. “The Gordon setter was the best dog in the ring on that night. It would have been dishonest not to give the award to him.”

The Telegraph reported that criticism was running rampant on dog breeder forums on the Internet.

“Most exhibitors who adhere to decent standards of behavior don’t enter under judges who are related to them,” one said. “The decent thing to do is withdraw from the group judging,” said another. A third said: “This is yet another Crufts controversy that will only harm the competition.”

The Kennel Club, which runs the show, insisted no rules were broken.

Caroline Kisko, the secretary of the Kennel Club, insisted the winning gundog won the prize on his merits. In a statement, she said: “It is important to clarify that no rules were broken here. Any dog that is chosen as a winner is done so because of the judge’s honest opinion on the day and is judged with integrity.”

The statement goes on, at length, with trademark bluster, to defend the decision — even though that’s really not the point.

Whether it’s Miss America pageants, Nobel Prizes or dog shows, you just don’t allow people to serve as judges in competitions in which their family members are entered. Fathers shouldn’t be judging sons. Sisters shouldn’t be judging sisters — even sisters who don’t get along (as is reportedly the case here.)

But does the Kennel Club say, “Yeah, you’re right, that was pretty stupid of us?” No, they spin and defend, manipulating the truth much like breeders and breed standards have manipulated dog breeds.

Which brings us back to the deformed, mutant German shepherd.

Sure, it could have been a case of nerves, or health problems unrelated to genetics that led her to stumble her way through the spotlight at Crufts.

But I suspect it has something to do with a limited gene pool. Design a human whose feet aren’t under his butt and he’d have trouble going through the paces, too.

Just as close relatives shouldn’t be judging each other in contests, they shouldn’t be breeding with each other — especially when the sole goal of those overseeing the breeding is to produce an offspring that accentuates some silly, and often unhealthy, physical characteristic that the latest breed standards deem “desirable.”

As seen in the video at the top of this post, the dog named best in breed, Cruaghaire Catoria, is barely able to trot across the arena floor. It’s as if her front legs and rear legs are operating independently of each other.

Why then award her best in breed? For one thing, her shape conforms to what, until recent years, was considered the ideal (when in reality it was unhealthy, prone to causing hip problems, and gave the breed the appearance of a skulking, runaway felon).

Correcting that, just like achieving it, takes some time — and that’s if there’s consensus among the breeders and all those smug kennel club types who have trouble ever admitting they were wrong.

If Cruaghaire Catoria is any indication, that consensus doesn’t exist.

(Photo: James, the Gordon setter chosen best gun dog; ASC/ZDS/Anthony Stanley / WENN.com)

Colbert hosts his own little dog show

It was no parade of puffed-up purebreds (for which we’re grateful), but Stephen Colbert hosted his own little dog show this week the night after Westminster.

Colbert, explaining that The Late Show is a dog-friendly workplace, featured two staff member’s dogs — neither much resembling anything you’d see at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which came to a close in New York this week.

“It’s like the Grammys, but with dogs, and less public urination,” Colbert said.

Colbert went on to present “some champions of our own that we are very proud of.”

First up was Riley, whose owner described her breed as “none of the above.” Among her greatest strengths, her owner said, was “she’ll put anything in her mouth.” He described her weaknesses as matted hair and frequent gas.

Then came Dexter, nearly 15 years old, whose owner described him as a “long-tongued mostly pug.”

Dexter’s owner explained Dexter’s tongue doesn’t stay in his mouth because he has no teeth.

Colbert awarded Dexter a ribbon for “Best in Tongue” and gave Riley the honor of “Most In My Office After Paul Has Left, Evidently Forgetting He Has a Dog.”

Sparring for sperm: Legal fight stems from neutering of a champion bichon frisé

beauWhen a  bichon frisé named Beau Lemon retired from the dog show circuit as the second best of his breed, plans were for him to spend his leisure years raking in the stud fees.

At age 3, his owners in Minnesota figured Beau — full name Victoire Gerie’s No Lemon Gemstone — could breed at least until he was 10.

In the process, they figured, they would be ensuring his genes and his legacy lived on .

And they’d get the puppy that they desperately wanted.

But those hopes, and those bucks, seemingly became a thing of the past when Beau’s breeder had the little white dog neutered without their knowledge, owners Mary and John Wangsness allege in a lawsuit.

The legal dispute has been going on for about a year now in Minnesota’s Ramsey County, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Wangsnesses allege breeder Vickie Halstead, who sold them the dog, acted in “vengeance” by neutering Beau because they had tried to breed him twice to a female dog, Cha Cha, without obtaining Halstead’s approval, which  was required in the sales contract.

They are seeking more than $50,000 in damages, and about eight vials of what they believe to be Beau’s frozen semen, now stored in a veterinary clinic and estimated to be worth $3,000 each.

The semen is being held under Halstead’s name, and the lawsuit alleges she has already profited from selling two vials.

As John Wangsness sees it, since it came from the loins of his dog, what’s in those vials are his.

“Damn right, they’re mine,” he said.

Beau was neutered without their approval in July 2013, when he was 4.

“After hearing about the neutering, and I’m not overstating things at all, Mary literally cried and stayed in bed for three weeks,”  said Wangsness, adding that she never fully recovered before she died this past March.

The case isn’t as black and white as it might seen.  In the competitive world of dog showing, ownership of a dog — as well as decisions about its care and profits — are often contractually shared between the breeder and the owner.

And that much debated sperm might not even be Beau Lemon’s.

Halstead’s attorney, Joseph Crosby, said at a recent hearing that the frozen semen belongs to Beau’s brother, Beau Jangles.

Crosby said Halstead “rescued” the dog from the Wangsnesses because they were neglecting him. He said Beau was suffering from dental disease, a low sperm count, impacted anal glands, and a matted and unhealthy coat.

Crosby said Beau’s neutering was necessary due to his “deteriorated health condition.”

In June of 2013, Halstead borrowed Beau from the Wangsnesses for what she told them was breeding purposes, the lawsuit says.

They did not learn of his neutering until he was returned.

Larry Leventhal, attorney for the Wangsnesses, said the couple treated Beau as a pet, but they also expected to have the option of breeding him several times a year at a rate of $2,000 to $3,000 per breeding until he turned 10.

Wangsness said that, more than money, he wants justice for his wife.

“I would like some vindication for the emotional distress that happened to Mary as a result of [Beau’s neutering],” Wangsness said.

Attorneys were scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a settlement agreement.

(Photo: Beau, as pictured on the website for Victoir’s Bichons)

Kennel Club says tests show Jagger was not poisoned during Crufts

jagger

Jagger, the Irish setter who died little more than a day after competing at Crufts, was poisoned — but they are now all but certain it was not during the dog show, UK Kennel Club officials say.

Citing reports from independent toxicologists, a Kennel Club spokesperson said Jagger died from meat cubes tainted with two fast acting poisons — carbofuran and aldicarb (both banned insecticides in the EU) that would have led to symptoms and death within a few hours of being consumed.

On top of that, the fact that the meat cubes in his stomach weren’t fully digested indicate he ate the cubes after he returned home to Belgium Friday, March 6, Kennel Club officials said.

All those other unsubstantiated poisonings at Crufts — some media reports alluded to as many as six — were just rumors and were found to have no basis, according to The Guardian.

Jagger, who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, won second place in his category. He died between 24 and 48 hours after leaving Crufts.

The Kennel Club’s secretary, Caroline Kisko, said the report shows it was “inconceivable” that Jagger could have been poisoned while at the dog show.

“Considering we are told that Jagger showed the first clinical signs usually associated with these two poisons shortly before his death in Belgium, late on the night of Friday 6 March, leading to the immediate call for veterinary attention, we must conclude that it is inconceivable that he could have been poisoned at Crufts on Thursday 5 March, some 28 to 36 hours earlier.

“There has been a lot of concern about whether the poisoning happened at Crufts and we are now able to reassure all dog-lovers who came to Crufts that this could not have been possible,” she added.

Jagger’s owners, Aleksandra Lauwers, Dee Milligan-Bott and Jeremy Bott believed the dog had been poisoned during the competition.

In a statement they released yesterday, they offered little comment on where else Jagger might have ingested the poison and expressed “disappointment” in the way Crufts officials handled the tragedy.

“We feel we did everything possible to quell the media frenzy that was eager to sensationalise this sad situation,” the owners said.

“We would have welcomed being offered expert advice, from a professional corporation such as the Kennel Club and Crufts organisation, on dealing with the intrusive worldwide media whose only interest in this case was obviously because of the link with Crufts.

“That would have been helpful, rather than the cold, impersonal emails and their own press comments regretting that Jagger had died after the show (and) may have avoided the terrible media circus that ensued.”

 (Photo: from Dee Milligan-Bott)

When is it OK to pick a dog up by the tail?

cross1

Amid the bashing she’s taking on the Internet for picking her dog up by the tail, there are those coming to the defense of Rebecca Cross, owner of Knopa, the Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at Crufts.

But the explanations those defenders offer, and their justifications for the practice — which has existed for years — are disingenuous, misleading and often a little arrogant.

The only time, in our opinion, that a dog should be picked up by his or her tail is … NEVER!

There may be those in the dog show community, and in the worlds of hunters and breeders, who say that view is naive — that certain breeds can handle it. Then again, they have never been picked up by their tails.

Let’s look at their arguments.

1. The tails of some dog breeds are meant to serve that function. They are born with sturdier tails to provide us humans with handles so we can pull them out when they go into holes. Baloney. Clearly, neither God nor evolution put tails on animals to serve as handles for humans. And if breeders have worked to give certain breeds stronger tails, with that in mind, then they had the wrong thing in mind, which is often the case. Their tinkering with dog breeds to make them cuter, lower maintenance or more useful to humans — all in the name of sales, of course — leads to no good, and to bogus arguments like this one.

2. You shouldn’t do it, but, being highly skilled professionals, it’s OK for us to lift certain small breeds by their tails. Balderdash! Running around in a circle with a dog, and brushing its hair, doesn’t make you a highly skilled professional. Showing a dog doesn’t require a PhD. You’re not a doctor, and if you were you’d know that, the tail being an extension of the spine, it should not be used to hold up even part of a dog’s weight.

3. When a dog is picked up that way, most of the pressure is on the front end of the dog, and the tail is simply used as a guide. Bullshit — pardon our language — but anyone with the slightest understanding of physics can see that, when a dog is picked up this way, the tail is carrying at least some of the dog’s weight. And when the front end is being supported by a hand on his or her throat, rather than his or her chest, that too is problematic.

4. If it hurt them, dogs would yelp and whine. Wrong again! That’s not true of real world dogs, or show dogs — maybe especially show dogs who have accepted the fact that the human showing them is going to do this, just as they have accepted the judges who insist on grasping their packages to check for “conformity.”

5. We’ve always done it that way.  We all know that is no defense at all; rather, it’s an excuse used by those who — even when someone is showing them a better way — stubbornly insist on living in the past. And if ever there was a vestige of the past, it’s purebred dog shows.

Those defending the practice offer plenty of what they, at least, see as justification, but little explanation of the reason for picking up a dog this way in the first place.

cross2That’s probably because it is such a silly and superficial reason: By using those two points of contact, they can avoid messing up the dog’s hair.

In that way, the tail lift symbolizes what, at the root, is wrong with dog shows.

And that’s the “appearance above all” mentality behind them.

Judging dogs on their looks — as called for by breed organizations and breed standards — causes suffering and is not in the best interest of the species.

Shows like Crufts and Westminster value “looks over the welfare and health of dogs which can lead to their early death, and that’s not acceptable if we’re really a nation of dog lovers,” RSPCA spokesperson Violet Owens told the BBC.

Although the dog owner’s comments didn’t sound too apologetic — she said she lifted her dog by the tail due to force of habit — Cross did apologize, according to UK Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko.

And just for the record Kisko also said that — no matter what the breed — picking up a dog by its tail is a no-no, at least at Crufts:

“Those showing at Crufts receive clear written guidance on handling their dog, in order to ensure the dog’s welfare, and this guidance makes it clear that dogs should not be handled in this way,” she said.

More scandalous behavior at Crufts 2015

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As an investigation continues into the apparent poisoning death of an Irish setter who competed at Crufts, and reports surface of up to six more poisonings, one of the human contestants has come under fire for picking up her Scottish terrier by the tail during judging at the world’s largest dog show.

U.S. contestant Rebecca Cross, owner of Knopa, the Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at Crufts, was filmed picking the dog up by her tail and around its neck to place her on the ground. Now Cross is taking a bashing online.

Knopa’s crowning moment was interrupted during the show when a protestor with a sign reading “Mutts Against Crufts,” ran onto center stage and was spirited away by officials.

And the RSPCA is investigating reports than another canine contestant was beaten by his owner or handler outside the arena earlier in the week.

All in all, it’s fair to conclude, not a good year — public relations-wise — for Crufts.

To say the embarassing series of incidents this year, and all the scandals that have preceded them, are signs that dog beauty shows (and dog ugly shows) have run their course would be a knee-jerk reaction.

There are much better reasons they should become a thing of the past.

Jagger, the Irish setter who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, died the day after returning home to Belgium. His owners say a necropsy revealed his stomach contained beef cubes tainted with three strains of poison.

A full toxicology report is expected next week.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the owners of as many as six other dogs suspect their showpiece pets may have been poisoned while at Crufts.

A West Highland White terrier, an Afghan hound, two Shetland Sheepdogs and another Irish Setter have all reportedly fallen ill after the international competition.

Yesterday, there were reports that a shih tzu competing at Crufts had died after being poisoned, but UK’s Kennel Club said it could not confirm them. Nor is it confirming that Jagger died from poisoning.

crufts beatingIf all that weren’t enough, another competitor has been alleged to have beaten his dog outside the arena — although photos circulating online don’t fully substantiate that. Both the RSPCA and the Kennel Club confirmed they were seeking more information on those allegations.

As for Knopa, the dog whose owner used her tail as a handle — we’d guess she does that to avoid messing up Knopa’s coiffure — Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kiskoe said handling a dog that way is improper, but apparently it’s not so frowned upon that it would lead the Kennel Club to revoke the title.

An online petition on 38Degrees has accumulated almost 90,000 signatures, calling for the title to be revoked, and hundreds of commenters are urging the same on the official Crufts Facebook page.

Knopa’s owner apparently picks her dog up that way often — at least often enough that it has become in her words, “a habit.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose, it was just habit,” Cross said. “It’s just one of those things.”

A murder mystery at Crufts?

jagger

As prestigious and proper as the world of Crufts is, fear, loathing and backstabbing have never been strangers to the world’s largest dog show.

Murder, however, was — at least until this year.

The death of a competitor — an Irish setter named Thendara Satisfaction, but known as Jagger — is being investigated as just that, after his owners said a necropsy revealed poisoned meat in his stomach.

The three-year-old dog died after returning home to Belgium, the day after he won second place in his class at Crufts.

Some news reports, like this one in the Telegraph, are suggesting, without much to back it up, that a jealous rival dog owner could have been behind it — and owners of Jagger are saying they hope that is not the case.

“We compete week-in, week-out against each other and we have one thing in common, we all love dogs,” said co-owner Dee Milligan-Bott. “I think and hope it was a random act by someone who hates dogs, an opportunist.”

In either case, the death has shaken up Crufts, UK’s Kennel Club and dog show participants who say that, while dogs shows have never been free of scandal, this could become the darkest one in Cruft’s 100-year history.

“I can’t believe anyone could be so evil or vindictive,” said Gillian Barker-Bell, who judged Irish setters in the competition. “Dogs have been tampered with at other championship shows so this is not a first. But I have never heard of a dog actually dying. What a sick mind to do something like that.”

Sandra Chorley-Newton, another Irish setter judge, called it horrific: “This has shocked the whole dog community. The thought of it being another exhibitor is too awful to contemplate.”

“The Kennel Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Jagger the Irish Setter died some 26 hours after leaving Crufts,” said Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary. “We have spoken to his owners and our heartfelt sympathies go out to them. We understand that the toxicology report is due next week and until that time we cannot know the cause of this tragic incident.”

Police in Belgium are investigating, according to the BBC.

According to the Telegraph report, two others dogs in the competition have taken ill, possibly from poisoning.

Jagger , who was owned by Milligan-Bott and Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers, collapsed and died after returning home to Belgium on Friday.

After celebrating their second place ribbon, Lauwers and her husband returned home with the dog by train.

“I prepared food for the dogs and I called Jagger to come over. He just collapsed and started shaking, it looked like a fit,” Mrs. Lauwers said. “We called our vet immediately. He started having diarrhea and urinating on himself. It looked like a heart attack. He went into a coma a minute later and died. The vet said it looked like poison.”

“It was dark red meat, it looked like beef. Inside there were small colours – white, dark green and black,” she added. “The vet is convinced it is poison, possibly a few different types to make it work more slowly but efficiently. The people in the clinic also suspected it was poison.”

Mr. Lauwers said he believed that Jagger was targeted, saying: “There is no other option, it had to have happened [at Crufts]. How can you mistakenly poison a dog?

“Jagger was such a promising dog. He was just three years old but he was well known around the world. Of course if you are successful, success doesn’t make you a whole lot of friends,” he added.

“I can only hope it wasn’t an act of jealousy by another competitor, but just a lunatic.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Dee Milligan-Bott)