Showsight Presents The Rottweiler

WITH GEORGE CHAMBERLIN, SUZAN GUYNN, JOAN KLEM, WENDI LEWELLAN AND SHARON MARPLES

OFA clearance. What is truly best for the Rottweiler is that it has behind it the collective voice and mindset (and all of the accompanying and far reaching power) of Rottweiler lovers who, despite multiple differences, are united in their affinity for and devotion to the breed. Making clubs less “mandatory” and more inclusive will only strengthen membership. Structure clubs’ param- eters, committees and purposes such that they consis- tently and positively promote the efforts and hard work of members: • Praise/show appreciation for volunteers • Include opportunities to showcase accomplishments • Emphasize recognition of those who bring in new members • Talk openly about zero tolerance for mistreatment of others • Use the web and social media to promote the breed and its guardians Trust members rather than police them; the resultant drama and mistrust cultivated by the policing of occa- sional individuals would be far offset by the long term unity of club members who feel safe, welcome and free to express their perspectives and preferences; policing might be best served for those individuals who seek to mistreat others, upset the majority and refuse to abide by the spirit of the club. Consider alternatives to current mandates that tie the hands of breeders and discourage thoughtful decision making and risk taking. Ethics, like integrity, start with how people treat each other and they are not easy to mandate. JK: Our local AKC Code of Ethics/ Mandatory Practices Clubs are doing a pretty good job of that. We include many old and new working competitions in our agendas. AKC provides us with ever increasing new AKC sports. It is up to club breeders to educate their new owners about the importance of those club memberships. Our Rodsden contract does require that they join a Code of Ethics Club. Putting out an informative NL with lots of photos especially in color encourages membership and retaining membership. WL: Educate the public as to the joys of dog showing and ownership. Do not turn away a person who is not famil- iar with all the codes and ethics of your clubs. Teach and instruct believe that a person is trying to do well and does not knowingly break your clubs rules or regulations. Educate not ostracize or separate. Believe in the good in a person and that person is a responsible loving person for your chosen breed. SM: Communication is so important. The use of social media can keep members in touch and communicating with each other. Make the club advisors available and make

the process of joining a club easy. Have an informative and educational club website that is easy to navigate that serves to promote the breed and encourage members. Encourage junior members! 4. Are the current Rottweiler clubs’ mandatory breed- ing practices improving the breed? GC: It depends on the mandatory practices. If those prac- tices demand adhering to the breed standard, being an ethical breeder and include improving the health of the breed then, yes. Finally, remember that the AKC is constantly trying to improve and support the sport of pure bred dogs. They have a lot to offer us in all fields of showing, training and breeding and are a great source of information for dog fanciers of all levels of experience. SG: SG: I am afraid they are only serving to enhance our perceptions that they are. As both a breeder and a judge, I see far fewer breeders and exhibitors and far fewer Rottweilers now than 20 years ago; yet in contradiction, there is increasing pressure on breeders to conform and by clubs to police what breeders do. The effort to mandate breeding “ethics” is a futile proposition and in my view unlikely to result in a better Rottweiler; in fact it may compromise the future of the breed. Breeders’ ethics can not prescribed by committees, but they do transcend their breeding practices and emerge most discernibly in how breeders treat other people and how they treat the animals to which they purport their allegiance. My pro- posal is to eradicate all mandatory practices and codes of ethics—and instead implement a data base of clear- ances to which all breeders may contribute and/or refer in order to make good, educated (even sometimes risky) decisions intended to improve their pedigrees. (Case in point: a dog—which perhaps may descend from lines with great longevity—is thrown away from someone’s breeding program because of a cataract, while a dog with good “cleared” eyes is proudly bred from a pedigree notoriously rampant with cancer by five years of age; there may be a case for both dogs to be used -- or a case for neither—depending on the breeder’s perspective.) Breeders should be thinkers—and not have all of their thinking done for them or foisted on them in the form of a prepackaged, committee resurrected notion of right and wrong—along with the righteous finger pointing and “punishments” that follow if directives are not met with compliance. Many of the greatest Rottweilers we have seen in our country would not have existed had their breeders followed today’s mandatory practices and/or stringent “code of ethics” recommendations. They would not have been bred either and their profound and positive impact on the breed would not have

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2017 • 295

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