Found in many kennels of purebred
dogs is a "disease" which renders a breeder incapable of seeing
faults in his own dogs. Kennel Blind breeders tend to twist and distort
the standard to justify the dogs they breed!!
Symptom to Kennel Blindness: The tendency to ignore the virtues
and focus on the faults of a competitor’s dogs. Kennel-blind
breeders tend to focus on negative features in dogs that are not their
own. Oftentimes, what they view as a fault in someone else’s dog
may be an acceptable variation of a style in that breed.
Seven Foundations of a Successful Dog
Listed in this article are some axioms that I have created
as a learning tool. These axioms are reflections of the temptations we
face on a daily basis as dog breeders. If one were to make a similar list
for any human endeavor, I doubt it would differ much from what I have
listed. I think this list is one that we should all review from time to
time, for it requires maturity and self-confidence to master-something we
all should continue to hone throughout our lives. The ultimate payoff is
the ability to succeed in and to enjoy our dog breeding careers.
I - ENJOY YOUR DOGS
The primary reason anyone becomes involved with dog
breeding and showing is a fundamental love of dogs. We treasure the
companionship, the never failing loyalty, the delight they exude. We love
to have them on our beds. Their eagerness to face the new day, even when
we wake them up at dreadful hours, provides us a wonderment that brings
back the exuberance of childhood. They forgive us when we lose our
temper, when we are impatient, when we are far less than they are. They
bring out the best of ourselves, they nurture the "big" us.
Unfortunately, dog breeding and exhibiting can tempt our
"little" selves. It can feed a fragile ego until it becomes a
raging ego. Often, this need to feel we are better than our fellow man is
expressed in our possessions. We need to have the biggest winner, the
producer of the most champions, the most champion puppies. We buy, we
co-own, we collect. Soon we have no time for dog pleasures, no time to
play or rub a grateful belly, no time to stroke a patient brow. Soon we
have no room for more dogs; we stack them and crate them and store them
as though they were baubles that have no meaning but to make us feel
important. We lose our ability to love. Dog showing and breeding is a
great vocation. It is creative and challenging and very rewarding. But we
must never expect our hobby to take the place of a psychologist's work.
We must never expect an unhealthy mental state to be cured by
self-indulgence. Far too many people take to showing and breeding for the
wrong reasons. Their houses go to ruin, their bank accounts evaporate,
their credit hits the skids, their spouses and children are left to survive
on their own as the breeder pursues their own manifestation of what they
perceive to prove their self-worth. Being a dog breeder is a huge
commitment. It means we should assign ourselves the role of lifetime
student. It means we will be humbled in countless ways and in countless
circumstances. It means our lessons will be of the hard knock variety if
we are to truly learn them. It means frustration, long hours, late nights
and early mornings. It means never getting to sleep-in again. It means
finding friendships - some of which will last for a lifetime and some of
which will founder, being built on social advantage. It means being
quoted and misquoted and having words put in your mouth. It means being
given ample opportunity to be as "small" as a human being can
be. But, hopefully, it can provide an opportunity to learn to be
"big," to be generous, inquisitive, and adventurous. We should
never ask ourselves if we are envied or important or successful. Those
questions are meaningless. At the end of the day, we should ask
ourselves, "Am I proud of the person I've become? What we must
always be are dog lovers. We must be their advocates. We must ensure the
life of every dog we breed and every dog we own is fulfilled and an
illustration of humanity at its nest hour. Our vanity must not be stroked
by having our pictures in a magazine or seeing our name on some ranking
system. Our self-worth must come from knowing we provide our dogs a life
of love, of pleasure, and of happiness.
II - BREED FOR IMPROVEMENT NOT WINNERS
It is easy to become lost in the purpose of breeding
quality dogs. For some, the attraction of the bright lights, the glamour
and the glitz cause them to stray from the path. Developing a bloodline
that is well considered and that is a positive influence for the breed
takes considerable discipline. Too often, the seemingly slow and
carefully orchestrated effort to improve a breed is crossed up with the
immediate desire to breed that one big winner and become famous.
The breeder's pledge must be to harbor and
safeguard the breed. No breed is in perfect shape when the breeder
happens upon it and none shall be perfect when they leave. But to leave a
breed in better shape than it was when you came upon it is the greatest
compliment. To improve type, movement, temperament and health must be the
bottom line for every committed breeder.
Such accomplishment takes a long-range plan
that is carefully thought through. It requires dedication and purpose.
All too often, we are sidetracked by our desire to breed to the latest
big winner, and then to the next and the next. Before long the pedigree
is a long list of "who's who" that have
no relationship to each other, other than they found success in the ring.
What is key to learn (and to believe) is success
in the ring is not an automatic indication of the dog's true quality. We
all wish one indicated the other but that is too easy. It would require
the removal of human fallacy to be accomplished!
Dogs do not excel for all the same reasons.
Consequently, you can't simply breed one big winner to another and
produce more big winners. Every feature and their nature of inheritance
must be studied and understood before you can "manage" the
inheritance variables. Once you gain this skill, you are on the road to producing
a great line of winners.
III - TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
The breeding of fine purebred dogs should be considered
the pursuit of perfection - it is not the maintenance of it. All dogs
have faults, all dogs are less than ideal in
some ways and areas. If not, the "ideal" has not been well
enough conceived. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being
defensive about one's own dogs. This usually happens because what we
assume to be correct is challenged by another as being less so.
This disharmony causes confusion in our mind
and ultimately unhappiness. To right ourselves, we often become defensive
and try to rid ourselves of that which is causing us the discomfort -
namely the opin-ion that does not complement
We must realize that "truth" is
the ultimate standard by which our decisions should be made. In most
cases, a roached back is a roached
back, whether we choose to recognize it as such or not. Consequently, the
best way for us to not be put into a position of being unhappily
surprised is to pursue knowledge relentlessly to ensure our opinion is as
accurate and close to the "truth" as possible.
This knowledge is gained in many ways, one
of which is learning from fellow breeders. We must fight the urge to make
up our minds about something and refuse to consider another viewpoint.
Indeed, we do not make decisions based on facts when we are first learning, we are depending upon what we perceive to be
the expertise of others to provide that for us. If that so-called
expertise is, in fact, faulty, our whole knowledge base is called into
question. And that causes us great anxiety.
The best place to sit is in the seat of the
knowledge seeker. Whenever provided with an opinion that is different
than the one You currently hold, always seek to under-stand the viewpoint
of the other. Why does the person perceive something differently than
you? Understanding another's point of view can be the road to greater
knowledge. If you shut that door and do not entertain the prospect of
learning something different than what you think is truth you will never
actually recognize the truth and you will not succeed in your goal.
Quite honestly, you should be more critical
of your dogs than anyone else could possibly be. That is not to say you
should attribute faults to your dogs they do not possess, but your
evaluation must be as detailed as possible and you must strive to see
clearly their true faults and virtues. From this comes the map to
IV - DEAL WITH OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DEAL WITH YOU
Sounds a bit like the golden rule that we learn in
childhood. Yet it is amazing how many people forget this very important
axiom. In dealing with others, regardless of the matter, think always of
the other person's position. I have heard repeatedly, people state how
they were burned in a co-ownership agreement. All too often the agreement
is geared toward benefiting one party (often the seller) over another.
Written agreements somehow are tainted as being only needed in a
contentious situation. This is the first misconception. Not having a
written agreement should be the very rare exception, not the reverse. Too
often, should a worthwhile puppy be produced from one of these undefined
arrangements, the fight is on for possession. Before contemplating
selling a dog on a co-ownership or leasing it or offering stud service
for a puppy back, you should think through what exactly you expect and
desire from such an arrangement. Too often, these business dealings occur
in the spur of the moment during a telephone conversation, and the deal
is struck before either party has really had an opportunity to think it
through. For some reason, rather than rethinking the situation, we tend
to try to follow through on such an ill conceived arrangement only to end
up bitter enemies in the end. If people would stop and think about the
likely end result, they would realize the best possible thing to protect
the friendship is to have a written understanding.
It is very rare a litter is going to have
more than one star if any at all. Consequently, it is important to
under-stand who is going to own that super puppy, should it appear.
People are too willing to tear apart relationships should one person seem
to benefit a bit more than another. This is too sad and is reflective of
the self-benefit motivation that all too many find as the driving force
for their actions. When pressed, it is far better to give than to
It is far better to let the other seemingly
benefit than to destroy a relationship and acquire the reputation of
being disreputable and self centered, if for no other reason than it
makes you grow as a human being, which is probably a fair trade off in
the long run.
V - BY GIVING YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
Another pitfall breeders often experience is the inability
to celebrate others' Successes. While certainly we feel the route we are
taking is the best way to approach that utopian plateau of breed
perfection, there are actually many routes to that same goal. It takes
nothing at all away from our own accomplishments to recognize the
accomplished efforts of other breeders.
This inability and unwillingness to
appreciate other's efforts usually comes from having made a decision not
to breed to certain bloodlines or deal with certain persons. When such a
kennel then produces a success, it is difficult for us to acknowledge
such an achievement for we tend to find that inconsistent with our
opinion of that particular person or family of dogs. It takes quite an
honest and secure person to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments
While it is probably good advice to hold our
criticisms closer to our chest, recognizing another's achievement only
brings good things. By being someone who can see the virtues in breeding
lines other than your own, you gain a reputation of fair-ness and objectivity that is a very rare pearl in dogdom. You may find, over time, your point of view
and your philosophies are taken with much greater weight when others do
not perceive them to have originated in a mind consumed with self
aggrandizement. Thus, by doing so you lose nothing and yet you gain so
VI - MAKE USE OF OTHERS' ACHIEVEMENTS
One of the worst situations a breeder can find her/
himself in is to partition themselves off from another kennel or bloodline.
It is highly unlikely that all improvements toward the perfection of a
breed are going to come from one single kennel or bloodline. Like flowers
in the field, they will spring up in various places. The clever breeder
is the one who knows how to pick from allthe
field those who will make the ultimate, sublime bouquet. And to do this,
you must be able to use the strengths of other kennels and bloodlines.
Breeders will tend to have certain biases; and quite honestly, there are
certain strengths and weaknesses in most bloodlines. While you may feel
you have achieved the highest ground in certain areas, there will
doubtless be other areas in which your dogs and bloodlines are less
strong than others. Not to recognize this fact is to ensure you will plateau
quite early in your breeding career. And by that I mean you will
stabilize and go no further. You must always keep a watchful eye for that
very special bloom that will enhance your bouquet.
It is this sophisticated combining of
families without losing the good points of your own bloodline that
strengthen a kennel and move it forward in breed importance. It takes
careful consideration, orchestration and pruning to come to fruition.
VII - YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR MORALS
My last axiom addresses the whole issue of morality. It
has many facets and many ways of expressing itself. Spreading rumors, the
accuracy of which might be doubtful, is one very good example. Selling
dogs on co-owner-ships as a means to control other breeders is certainly
another. Accusing other lines of genetic problems while being less than
entirely honest about your own is yet another. In all, it goes to the
very core of who we are. Do we know right from wrong? Do we practice
right in all circumstances? Dog breeding is not about that one great win
or that one great winner. It is about breed improvement over time, it is
about protecting a breed. Too many people are in search of some kind of
sign of their self worth and they think they will obtain some special
level of respect and honor if they have a big winner. Dog breeding is a
lifetime's work. It is a continuum of which, no matter how quickly you
want to "put yourself on the map," will ultimately be a
reflection of your true character. To wit, you can't fool all of the
people all of the time.
There is no honor in "adjusting"
reality to give you the appearance of achieving something you have not.
Politicking for wins will not make your dogs any better than they are.
Faking your dogs will not make them any better than they are. You may
think you can fool the world, but you will ultimately pay the price. No
one wants to be a pretender. And yet, some of the worst pre-tenders are
people who seem to be infatuated with spreading rumors about other people
and dogs. These people live in glass houses and invariably they know it.
The breeding of dogs is not about how you impress the neighbors, your
peers or anyone else.
It is the expression of your love of dogs
and your personal pursuit in creating an art. You cannot lie about the
art you create; you cannot lie to yourself.
While this list, I am quite sure, sounds
like a sermon from the mount, it encompasses the many pitfalls that we
dog breeders face every day. Some of us are equipped to navigate these
disturbances better than others, but all of us CAN navigate them. We are
all tested from time to time, even the most educated, psychologically
balanced, intelligent and honest amongst us. There are times when it
feels much better to zing someone who has been hurtful, to control those
whom we feel do not have the proper motivation, to become the ones who
attract the adulation. Only through careful thought and well-considered
action can we hope to become better people and therefore better dog