I've been following a thread on the Our Dogs forum.
For those who don't know much about dog shows, Our Dogs is one of the two weekly papers for dog show exhibitors and breeders.
(Confession to newcomers to this blog: When I was young (oh dear that feels a very long time ago!) I used to write for Our Dogs and my next job was a year in the office of the other show paper Dog World. When I was a child, I was a really serious dog show person/breeder... There are embarrassing photos of me in very old breed books and show newspaper archives showing me wearing the uniform - a brightly coloured man-made fibre trouser suit - so there's no point in denying my past!)
Anyway, back to the forum.
I didn't realise when I joined (to correct David Cavill who had claimed I'd prevented him from commenting on this blog - free speech always welcome here David - do join in!) that I would continue to receive emails every time anyone said anything.
I started to witness some quite horrid bullying and I've been mulling over what to do or say. It's not like seeing someone being assaulted in the street, you're just overhearing a conversation - at what point do you join in and become part of it?
We have one very enthusiastic pet owner in one corner who has lost a beloved dog to a distressing disease trying to persuade the hard core dog breeders to get a bit more enthusiastic in the fight to improve all our dogs' health.
We have a load of dog show types pretty much saying, "Who the hell are you - clear off our forum."
This sort of tribalism may be natural - but isn't it rather disappointing?
We need to look at what joins us together rather than what divides us - and we all should be pulling in the same direction. Ultimately pet or show person should want the same thing - healthy dogs.
I'm still receiving reactionary emails from the odd breeder who still claims all this fuss is just nonsense, bias - that there's simply nothing wrong with inbreeding - or line breeding as they like to call it.
These are people who genuinely seem not to be able to grasp the correlation between declining effective population sizes and the increasing levels and weird and disturbing conditions popping up in all breeds. I reason with these people for ages hoping for a breakthrough, but it's still far too easy from they to say I'm just biased rather than just think about it logically for a moment.
How can these people ignore Professor Balding and all the other scientists and simply think that it's okay to breed ever closer regardless?
Could it reveal that perhaps some of these people might have lost sight of the special bond between dogs and their owners, that they can no longer honestly empathise with the person's grief at the loss of just one dog. When you have 14 more in the kennel perhaps you become slightly dulled to one popping off early?
I was once a show person. I know how everyone uses "pet quality" as a euphemism for "rubbish". Where someone showing a pet dog is dismissed with a roll of the eyes.
I remember many successful breeders that had obviously stopped loving their individual dogs, they hardly touched them if they weren't grooming, showing or exercising them. The lottery ticket effect of chasing winners spawned its own vocabulary and morals. For eg "Passengers" - dogs that didn't win and were too old to be bred from.
Dogs that didn't deliver were frequently rehomed or "bumped". I remember one person in my breed putting chalk marks on kennel doors and calling the vet in when numbers got too high. "Thinning out" with a lethal injection was a regular occurrence. Another saved the vet bill and shot the dogs herself.
It's morally reprehensible - but if we are honest and we live or have lived in the show world we probably know several people in every breed that fit the profile of someone who shows dogs but doesn't feel that attached to them individually any more.
Those sorts of people need driving out in my opinion.
There are plenty of other breeders that do still love their dogs and they need to be brave and hound out those dinosaurs that often spout the ridiculous doctrine of, "proper show people won't be told what to do by a bunch of scientists."
It's time for the caring people to come out of the closet and say they unashamedly love their dogs and that they care about their health - whether or not they are show or pet people.
Leave those miserable people who don't care out on a limb and start supporting each other.
Let's try to form a central movement of dog lovers who welcome progress: breeders, show people and pet people - everyone who loves dogs with a passion.
The majority of dogs are bred by pet owners in any case, if you look at the KC's own stats. Most litters are bred by people who only breed one litter in their lives.
It's time for pet and show people to start getting on with each other.
I feel the pet owners voices should be listened to by the hard core show people. That lone voice talking sense to people who don't want to hear may well make a breakthrough with some of the less entrenched.
Maybe I'll start joining in on the Our Dogs forum... care to join me?