airedale terrier Q&A WITH LINDA JARVIS, DR. VALERIA RICKARD AND SUSAN RODGERS
“NEGLECTING TO TEST OR WITHHOLDING CRITICAL INFORMATION DOES A TRUE DISSERVICE TO THE BREED AND THE AIREDALE COMMUNITY.”
and breeders. I also educated myself in studying “old” pedi- grees and breed history. English Yearbooks, magazines and books were essential in allowing me to see across history and the evolution of the breed. It also allowed me to see how the traits and characteristics were passed through generations. Do I think size and presence enhance the chances of rec- ognition: I honestly don’t think size plays a factor. The size aspect reinforces their position as king, but they easily get bored—both in the time waiting for the groups to start as well as in the group ring after they go first and have to wait for the other 30+ breeds to go. As a result, they sometimes don’t show as well as smaller terriers who are typically more “wound up” all the time. The biggest health concerns facing the breed today are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, renal PLN disease and mitral valve disease. The greatest challenge most new judges face when it comes to the Airedale is it’s a square breed with moder- ate angles. Judges need to spend more time learning breed type as opposed to judging them as a “generic” dog. Judges also need to understand what true Airedale good movement is, and be able to recognize it when present (or lacking) and consider that in the overall judging equation. Also, “newer” judges aren’t comfortable with sparring dogs safely, so they may neglect to provide them the opportunity to perform. There is nothing more beautiful than two Airedales per- forming a spar correctly. That is also the best time when to evaluate ears and expression, as often Airedales will not use their ears in the initial judges approach. To which do I attach more importance: a win at an all- breed show or a win at a specialty: a Win at a specialty— especially the national—in a company of many other great Airedales is very nice and something to be very proud of. But, a Best in Show win at an all-breed show is extreme- ly memorable as well as it doesn’t happen that often. Aire- dales aren’t as “flashy” of a breed in a BIS ring for the “all-rounder” judge. Traits in the breed I fear are becoming exaggerated: rear Angles and length of body, length of loin are getting longer and longer. The Airedale is a square breed with moderate angles, when these proportions are overdone, that negatively effects the overall look and movement of the animal.
Airedales are not a sporting breed, and are not like smaller terriers that were bred to go in a hole, they were bred for a specific function. If a judge isn’t familiar with the purpose an animal was bred for, they tend to apply a more generic standard that may not be appropriate. Judges educations must make sure that the judge understand the history of the Aire- dale so that the standard may be applied appropriately. Health testing is a must for all breeders (Airedales or oth- ers) who take the overall health, temperament and quality of their breed seriously. Breeders must know what is behind the animals that they select as part of their breeding pro- grams. Only a select few of the purebred animals brought into this world will enter the show ring while the majority should live as long and healthy lives as possible in their com- panion homes. Breeders must be open about their animals’ test scores and health history or we are doomed to propagate health problems that should be at minimum understood. No animal is perfect, and nature can be “fickle”, but as a breeder you must understand your animals and strive to produce the healthiest (not just the prettiest) combinations. Neglecting to test or withholding critical information does a true disservice to the breed and the Airedale community. This sport is, and must be “about the dogs” and I think the “business” of dog showing has clouded that truth. Sportsman- ship and spirited competition are great, but in the end, the Airedale breed should be the winner. We, as stewards of the breed, Must demonstrate this for the younger generation to whom we will pass the baton. I am very pleased to see junior handlers enter the Airedale ring (not an easy thing to do with an animal who is almost as big as you) and compete—and win—against the professional handlers. That is shat it is all about—working hard, practicing, and having fun in hon- est competition and bringing the focus back to the sport of dog showing. SUSAN RODGERS I am a retired university professor having taught Public Health Nursing in several schools across country. Thirty years ago Shirley Good and I opened a kennel in a very wooded area as we often kept 12 dogs and wanted to keep peace with the few neighbors. Because of kennel space we had frequent show visitors with space for human guests as well as dogs.
278 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2019
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