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Tag: kennel club

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)

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


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


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?


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)

Beagle takes top honors at Westminster

Miss P, a 15-inch beagle, and handler William Alexander, react after winning the Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) ORG XMIT: MSG215

A beagle named Miss P beat out a shih tzu owned by Patty Hearst, a Portuguese water dog related to Sunny Obama and four other finalists to capture best in show honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Miss P, whose full name is “Ch Tashtins Looking for Trouble,” is only the second beagle to win best in show at Westminster.

The 4-year-old beagle from British Columbia will retire after the victory, but not before embarking on a whirlwind media tour that includes a stop atop the Empire State Building, steak lunch at a nearby restaurant, a meeting with Donald Trump, and a walk-on part in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, USA Today reported.

rocketAmong the other dogs competing for best in show was a shih tzu named Rocket,  co-owned by kidnapped newspaper heiress, convicted bank robber and actress Patty Hearst.

Rocket was awarded top honors in the toy dog category.

Hearst is the granddaughter of William Randolph Hears. She was kidnapped by the radical group the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, and was later seen holding a machine gun while robbing a California bank. She spent two years in prison.

pattyHer sentence was commuted by President Carter, and President Clinton gave her a full pardon.

Hearst, who turns 61 on Friday, is one of Rocket’s three co-owners. She has been involved in the dog show world for more than 10 years and has also worked as an actress.

A cousin of Sunny, one of the First Family’s Portuguese water dogs, was also in the running, and considered by some to be a favorite.

Matisse won the working group category for the third straight year.

More results, photos and videos can be found at the Westminster website.

(Photo: Photos of Miss P and Rocket by the Associated Press)

Playing dirty at the dog show?

Police have filed animal cruelty charges against a Pennsylvania man who allegedly drugged a competitor’s Siberian husky at a dog show in Wheaton.

Ralph Ullum, 68 of Claysville, was attending a kennel club show in December at the DuPage County Fairgrounds with his girlfriend, whose Siberian husky, Diana, was entered in the competition.

He’s accused of feeding Protonix and possibly Benadryl to a competing husky, named Pixie, NBC in Chicago reported.

Pixie’s handler, Jessica Plourde of Newark Valley, N.Y., noticed a crushed pink pill near Pixie’s cage on the second day of competition, according to police. Later, witnesses came forward saying they had seen Ullum feeding and petting Pixie while Plourde was away from the cage

A veterinarian induced vomiting in Pixie and found a rubber band, dog food, chicken pieces and an undigested Protonix pill. Protonix is used to treat acid reflux and heartburn. Wheaton police say the pink crushed pill found near Pixie’s cage is believed to be Benadryl, an over the counter allergy medicine that can cause drowsiness.

Ullum denied feeding anything to Pixie, but said he did pet her.

His hearing on misdemeanor cruelty to animals charges is scheduled for June.

Best in Show? A Scottish deerhound

A Scottish deerhound named Hickory was awarded best in show last night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden.

It was the breed’s first best in show win at Westminster.

Hickory — full name Foxcliffe Hickory Wind — beat out the other finalists: a Pekingese, a  Shar-pei, a bearded collie, a black cocker spaniel, a Portuguese water dog and a smooth fox terrier.

“Over the moon,” is how owner Cecilia Dove described the win. “This is the first deerhound to ever win at the Garden. She’s in an elite group of one. ”

Hickory’s best in show comes after finishing third in her group last year, which her handler, Angela Lloyd blamed on big-city jitters. “This dog isn’t used to cities or venues this size. It is used to chasing squirrels and deer all day on a big farm,” she said.

Hickory lives on Dove’s farm, outside Warrenton, Va.

“She’s got everything,” Paolo Dondina, a judge from Monterchi, Italy, said after picking Hickory. “The movement, the presence. It’s a dog for the big show.”

Hickory, according to Bloomberg.com, is named after a bluegrass song by John Duffey. Hickory succeeds Sadie, a black Scottish terrier who won Westminster last year.

About 2,600 canines from 179 breeds competed in the two-day event.

The Scottish deerhound breed dates to the 16th century, when it was used for pursuing and killing deer, and could be owned by “no one of rank lower than an earl,” according to the American Kennel Club website.

Lloyd, Hickory’s handler, said the 5-year-old, 85-pound dog loves the spotlight.

“She’s constantly making sure she’s getting attention,” Lloyd said.

Like all Westminster winners, she’ll be getting plenty of that in the days ahead, before retiring to Dove’s farm in Virginia.

Here’s a video of her first round win — she’s the third one to strut — over two other Scottish deerhounds.