In the Dog House

By: Simon Parsons

19/04/2017

In the Dog House

I HAVE written before about the amazing efforts made by some of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier people to increase interest in their globally vulnerable breed through commemorating its unique history and heritage, culminating in the commissioning of a very special statue of the canine ‘father of the breed’, Old Ginger.

I’m grateful to Mike Macbeth from Canada for keeping us up to date. She writes:

“Over 150 Dandie enthusiasts from 14 countries will be attending a three-day event culminating in the unveiling of a bronze statue of Old Ginger on June 4, which is his 175th birthday.

 “Alexander ‘Sandy’ Stoddart, the eminent Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland, graciously accepted a commission to produce this statue commemorating the founding father of the Dandie Dinmont.

“My friend and collaborator in this initiative is Paul Keevil, an art dealer and fellow Dandie breeder.

“Old Ginger’s unveiling will be the highlight of the event beginning at Abbotsford on June 2, moving to Bowhill on June 3, where the Duke of Buccleuch has kindly agreed to greet the visitors, as he did in 2015 when as head of the Scott Clan he bestowed permission for the Dandie Dinmont to adopt the Scott tartan.

 “And the main event will be the celebration of Old Ginger on Sunday June 4 at The Haining, a grade 1 listed Palladian mansion in Selkirk.

 “The unveiling will take place in front of Old Ginger’s actual kennel. These are the only surviving kennels of the birthplace of the breed founder. Every Dandie Dinmont on earth today can be traced through their male line to Old Ginger.  

“The surviving kennel run was built in the 1830s by another Stoddart – the Selkirk blacksmith, John Stoddart, himself a notable breeder of Dandies whose dogs appear in the female line of Old Ginger and who contributed dogs to Sir Walter Scott and the 5th Duke of Buccleuch. 

“The project has the full and enthusiastic support of the trustees of The Haining Charitable Trust. The mansion now hosts an annual ‘Dandie Dinmont Derby’ that attracts about 65 Dandies on Old Ginger’s birthday each year. The Derby was featured in The Secret Life of Dogs, shown on ITV1 last month.

“Our motivation for organising this initiative and celebration is fuelled by a passion for our chosen breed and our intense fear of its demise. Today Dandies are highly endangered (only 316 born worldwide) and recognised by the Kennel Club as a vulnerable native breed.

“Using our international contacts, we raised more than £20,000 through a Just Giving Account. Happily, the KC has supported the initiative with a matched funding grant that has allowed the restoration of Old Ginger’s kennel building. Work is being completed as I write this and the ribbon cutting will immediately precede the unveiling of the statue.

 “This will become a Dandie Dinmont Discovery Centre, with information not only about Dandies but the other Scottish breeds and the vulnerable British breeds, thus increasing potential interest from breed enthusiasts as well as tourists and devotees of Sir Walter Scott.

 “Given both Selkirk and the Dandie’s close association with Sir Walter, we hope Sandy Stoddart’s completed statue of Old Ginger and the Discovery Centre will raise the profile of our beloved breed, and thus contribute to its continuation.”

If you’d like more details of the very busy programme for the three days, I suggest you contact Paul Keevil on paul.keevil@gmail.com.

 

Your opinions

KEEPING US up to date on the results from the polls on the DOG WORLD website – we asked how Crufts was for you this year. Good news for the organisers that 33 respondents found it the same as ever, three somewhat better than usual and 11 much better.

Seven found it somewhat worse and ten much worse. Pity there isn’t a format whereby people could also give their reasons why they felt it was better or worse than in previous years.

For three people it was their first Crufts – hope they had a great time.

Channel 4 and More4 haven’t got much reason to be cheerful, though. In another pool we asked what you thought of the Crufts TV coverage. We asked you to bear in mind that it is aimed not solely at committed dog people, but even so 20 of you thought it was dreadful, 61 very poor and 22 that it could be better.

That compares with 14 who felt it was okay, four good, 15 very good and four excellent.

Incidentally, if you hated the coverage and desperately want to see the serious stuff with a view of every best of breed, don’t forget that the live streaming of the group judging can still be seen on YouTube. And of course there is dogworld.tv’s own coverage of the show and I can promise Alan Carr doesn’t appear on that!

As always we asked what group you thought the best in show winner was likely to come. Just a bit of fun, for of course even if you have a suspicion which dogs the judge has previously admired, firstly they very often don’t get through the breed or group, and then there are always lots of exciting new faces that haven’t been seen in Britain before.

Anyway the most popular answer was the hound group with 33 replies, hardly surprising as that’s the group with which the judge Jeff Horswell is most associated. Just as well you didn’t but a bet on it, though, as BIS wasn’t a hound!

Other choices were utility 16, working and toy seven, pastoral, gundog and terrier six each.

Regrettably, there seems to be a lot of apathy about reforming the Kennel Club membership system. We asked: “How important to you is being a KC member?”

The responses were: I am a member and it means a great deal, ten.

I am a member but would not be worried were I not, six.

I was a member but am no longer, three.

I’m not a member but would very much like to be, ten.

I’m not a member but it doesn’t worry me one way or the other, 19.

I’m not a member and don’t want to be, 35.

Must admit I find it sad and amazing that such a high proportion are uninterested in participating in the governing body, but there we are.

Do you think that dogs of colours not included in your breed’s Standard should be…

Registered as the colour they actually are, 27.

Registered as ‘colour not recognised’ 13 (this is what currently happens in some breeds at the breed clubs’ request – personally I think that if you are going to do this, the dog’s actual colour should be listed as well as the fact that this colour is not accepted).

Registered only on a second-class type of registration, seven.

And overwhelming support for: not registered at all, 76.

Wonder if the KC will ever bow to popular pressure on this one?

Finally for this time – very shortly we should know exactly what are the KC’s long-awaited plans for reforming the training and approval of judges. It seems obvious that ‘numbers’ will play less of a part, but what will replace them?

Anyway we asked you whether breed clubs should have more influence over who is passed to award CCs in their breed; 87 said yes, 32 said no and just one of you felt things were okay as they are.

 

Pekingese history

I OFTEN think we don’t do enough to preserve the memory of the outstanding breeders and personalities of our breeds, so when someone goes to the trouble of doing just this they surely deserve all our gratitude.

And especially so when they do it with as much panache as has Geoffrey Davies in this new book The Greatest UK Pekingese Kennels from 1945 to 1979, a handsomely produced collection of memoirs and photographs of the great names in a breed which has produced more than its share of ‘characters’, both human and canine.

A page from Geoffrey Daviesí new book.

Geoffrey features 60 major kennels of that period, in alphabetical order from Adlungs to Yusen, with a short introduction to each, often featuring his own special memories, plus photos and descriptions of their most important dogs. How one would love to have seen the dogs in the flesh and in many cases to have known their owners.

A further 43 kennels are also mentioned more briefly, again with photos, and then Geoffrey describes his own adventures in the breed – he was fortunate enough to be captivated by the breed when he was just a lad, personally knowing many of the great breeders he mentions, and has remained devoted to it ever since.

In the last couple of years of his too short life, the formidable exhibitor Bill Hindley Taylor was Geoffrey’s mentor, not just as far as Pekes are concerned, and in many ways Geoffrey’s book reminds me of parts of Bill’s own very personal breed book published back in the ‘50s.

Perhaps the most significant chapter is the concluding three pages, ‘Where do we go from here?’ In latter years the breed, in spite of some great show ring successes, has been rather in the doldrums, with the great people of the past not being replaced in anything like the same number. It remains on the category three list and is far from immune from criticism. Geoffrey gives some sound and sensible thoughts on what could be the way forward and one can only wish that the breed clubs (many now amalgamated) take his words to heart.

The book has initially been produced in a luxuriously bound and very limited edition. I gather that it will in due course be available in a simpler format. I hope too that Geoffrey will also produce a sequel on the breed since 1979.


 

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