Sunday, 21 March 2010

For those that missed it...

A lot of people have asked what was actually said about the German Shepherd on the More4 Crufts Saturday programme. As it isn't available anywhere on line, I've transcribed it. Do check it if you have it recorded and let me know if I've slipped up, but I think I got it pretty much word for word.

Just been sent this link:




25 minutes into the programme:
After a lightweight pre-filmed item on shopping at Crufts and eating doggie muffins with vet Marc Abrahams in scrubs saying, “keeping your dog fit can be fun and exciting...” presenter Dougie turns to camera and says, “and not for the first time Marc Abraham has opened his mouth and a great big truth just popped out.” The programme switches to live mode and the sofa studio set up and anchor Claire Balding. There’s a lot of background noise as the studio has no walls and you can hear the toy group judging in the background.
Claire addresses the camera directly and announces, “And Dougie is currently nursing a slight tummy ache from all of that… errr…
“Now if you are watching this programme there is no doubt at all that you will be aware of the inherited problems in certain breeds of dog and we’re going to discuss that now with Caroline Kisko who is Secretary of the Kennel Club and Catherine Mellersh who is a canine geneticist at the Animal Health Trust. Caroline first of all, in terms of the sort of headline problems that we’ve had whose responsibility do you think it is to sort it out?”
Kisko replies: “I think it's down to everyone actually we need to make sure that breeders use the health tests that are available to them, we need to make sure that the judges actually judge healthy dogs in the ring. The vets need to get involved as well – they’ve very much involved but primarily it’s actually down to the puppy buyers to make sure they go to a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder.”
Balding: “With the breed associations that control those breeds would you say that on the whole they are aware of the problems that exist within their breed and are trying to solve them?”
Kisko: “Very much so, I think that in earlier days ... erm you know … people tended to sweep things under the carpet because they didn’t have solutions, now we’ve got so many solutions that the breed clubs are actually the ones that are coming forwards proposing research projects and finding people like Catherine’s team to find the results for them.”
Balding again, “Catherine, I’ll ask you about your research in a second..
Claire Balding, gesticulating and leaning forward earnestly and talking to Caroline Kisko who is nodding. “…but just one breed that certainly to my eye looks wrong is the German Shepherd Dog and the winner of the Best of Breed...”
Clip of Lagos, Crufts BOB in Shepherd starts… lead looks tight and movement is stilted as a result. “This is in the group judging, to my eye, I’m no expert, but that back end does not look right. Now what can you do and what can the German Shepherd Dog association do to breed that out –“
At this point Claire gives hand gesture to mime presumably a level topline
“ – Huh (exasperated exclamation?) - breed it back again to a stronger back end?”
Kisko...”What we have to do is to actually recognise the problem and get it recognized by the Clubs and what the Kennel Club is doing is saying to the breed clubs you have to recognise the problem we’re actually asking them to sign contracts which will say that yes they recognise the problem and yes they are going to do something about it.”
Balding again footage of Corgi in ring shown, “Because I know with the Cardigan Corgi for example that has gone through to Best in Show their breed association did a lot of work into the problems they had with an eye disease and has actually managed to breed it out now there are a much smaller breed, they’re a vulnerable breed I think only 68 puppies or something born last year so I presume in a small pool it’s easier to solve but Catherine what’s the work that you’ve done and where would you consider your greatest successes to be…?
Summary: Catherine goes on to discuss test eye primary lens luxation – very painful – dogs have to have their eyes removed. 12 breeds benefitting from test. Stresses support of breed clubs and financial support from the KC.
Balding again: “Caroline, do you the Kennel Club have enough authority, do you feel you have the ability to kick out quite a large number of dogs if you do not think they are healthy enough?”
Kisko: “I think what we’d rather do is actually to get people to breed differently. These are pet dogs first and foremost – they are dogs that are going to go into family homes and the breeders themselves have them as their pets so it’s hugely important to breeders and puppy buyers that they are healthy. So we want to make sure that they stay with us because if we kick them out who is going to deal with the problem?”
Balding: “But ultimately if that doesn’t work and I can understand that you want to work with them rather than against them what is your big threat and what can you do?”
Kisko: “Our ultimate sanction is actually the Challenge Certificate, the ability for breeds to make up Champions and we can withdraw that ability if we so choose. And that’s actually what we are doing now, we’re saying you’ve got to work with us, you’ve got to start recognizing problems, sorting them out via shows, via judging and so on and if people don’t then yes that’s what we can do and yes that’s what we will do.”
Balding: “I’m sure lot of people watching will have comments and further questions….”
Editorial note:
The item finished 28 minutes into the programme… only a three-minute segment on health, most of which was on the German Shepherd. A breed that has never been slow to test for health problems, in fact led the way on hip testing.
Lagos the GSD featured recently passed his Schutzhund 3 in Germany- an incredibly physically demanding police style obedience test, has had his elbows and hips scored, has had Dna tests, other blood tests, has successfully completed a 20km endurance test. There are no dogs repeated in his 5 generation pedigree - no obvious inbreeding. 
Why pick on this dog in an item summing up the health problems in pedigree dogs - in an item that also talks in almost the same breath of an eye problem so painful that dogs have to have their eyes removed? 
Why no footage of dogs that have scientifically-proven serious and life-limiting proven health problems rather than just a topline that the KC finds painful to look at even though it seems not to impede in any way the dogs from doing extremely physical tasks, much more demanding than running up and down on a piece of green carpet!
The world's gone mad! 
Click here to find out more about Schutzhund. Dogs that can do this sort of stuff are definitely "Fit for Function" in my book! Much more of a test of a dog than walking a triangle on a tight lead.
Click here to read piece in today's Indie about KC action against the co-handler of the Crufts Best in show winner.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank god for the world of dog shows for without it you'd be out of a job. Glad it gives you something to take your mind off of increasing waist lines.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there was no intention to target the GSD rather than other breeds, it was merely that GSDs were being shown while Clare Balding was having that conversation, and she made an off-the-cuff remark that the dog didn't look quite right.
She said it just as we had been shown the dog loping around the ring.
I got the impression that it was entirely spontaneous and it's right that it should be so.
People like CB must be free to express an opinion.
After all, while the GSD people are known to have done good work on health, the breeding of dogs to have that particular look - the weirdly bent back and buckled hind legs - is, after all, a bit controversial as is, by way of comparison, the breeding of pekes or pugs to have squashed-in faces, but pekes and pugs weren't being mentioned at that point because we were looking at GSDs.
But I don't quite understand why Anonymous above is attacking Beverley's in connection with "waistlines". What's that got to do with it?
Julia Lewis

Beverley Cuddy said...

Hi Julia
I'm afraid I'm too old and cynical (and well-rounded! - thanks Anonymous!) to think that all this was just the whimsey of Claire Balding!
It wasn't spontaneous, live TV doesn't work like that - the footage of the German Shepherd was keyed up ready to play on cue and timings are very precise on a live broadcast and very little, if anything, is spontaneous.
Lagos's owner asked Caroline Kisko via the phone immediately after the show whether it was a rehearsed item and she confirmed it was all roughly mapped out before going on air. That's before she rudely hung up on her, saying she was tired after enduring four days at Crufts.
On the Saturday, German Shepherds weren't being shown and up until that point the footage of the German Shepherd best of breed hadn't been aired as it wasn't shown in the Pastoral group coverage. So it wasn't a case of Claire reacting spontaneously to the broadcast - someone very senior decided to feature the GSD in the much vaunted serious health section.
Would CB have been allowed to say what she really thought about other extremes that have a scientifically proven negative consequence on health?
Well she didn't say a negative word about any other breed featured in the four days... not a single slip. She's a very professional broadcaster.
If you were to pick on one breed that is suffering because of their shape I am sure you could think of lots more obvious breeds to feature.
It was made to look spontaneous and it obviously convinced you it was just that. Slick.
... to be continued!

Beverley Cuddy said...

part two!
...
It was part of a campaign to make the KC look like it is being tough and masterful at last on health - when in reality they're picking on a group of people who already do very much more than the KC require to check on the health, endurance and functionality of their breed.
No, they won't sign meaningless unenforceable pieces of paper to back up the KC PR spin campaign. But do you seriously think the Peke people are actively attempting to breed dogs with noses now - they've signed to get an easier life. Was anyone out wit the tape measure seeing if a nose is yet emerging? Or are the Bulldogs people really changing their dogs shapes? Have the Pug people have even started to accept that the double twist of the tail causes hermivertabrae? A breed where the KC are still advising no health tests despite pet people spending thousands of pounds trying to keep their impeccably bred dogs alive.
Signing a piece of paper absolves the KC and makes it appear like they are doing something by making its the breed club's problem, but it doesn't actually change anything.
This is all about PR not dog health.
It's too important to compromise on and I respect the GSD people for standing their ground and not becoming part of the smokescreen by signing.
How easy to sign a piece of paper saying they'll look at the back ends more closely.
But the reality is they already do look at the every bit of their dogs very much more closely than the KC requires.
That GSD was probably the most tested physically and mentally of any dog exhibited in that main ring.
It was quite simply the wrong dog to pick on!
Yep, they don't look tidy running around on a green carpet on a tight lead. But this dog looks fresh as a daisy after a 20km endurance test. Wouldn't like to see a Pug, Peke or Bulldog try that.
The sloping topline of the International GSD may offend our eye as we've so rarely seen them on TV apart from on Pedigree Dogs Exposed, but the lack of a nose is very much more of a serious handicap for those others breeds.
I'd like to see footage of these dogs competing at a Sieger - so we can see what they really look like when their bodies are properly tested.
We're used to seeing a GSD built like a Land Rover - but the International is quite literally a different breed - more of a Porsche and you either love that look or hate it. But it really that superficial an issue - we are allowing ourselves to respond to a dog's looks emotionally rather than logically.
Just like Anonymous poster one picking on me for my (imagined) shape - it doesn't impede me from doing my function so what's the problem?
Beverley

Alyson R said...

Sorry Anonymous - the comment took place on FRIDAY while the Toy Group was being judged - Shepherds were shown on THURSDAY. So why show a slow motion clip of the Shepherd - this has got to have been preplanned.

Anonymous said...

Strange how you are showing a true stance for GSD's now It was not that long ago you were full of critiscism about them!!

Anonymous said...

beverly i dont think you should be seen to publicly disagree with jemima harrison....the two of you should be working together on this, and you saying what you have about shepherds contradicts her film. you are damaging jemima's message. we must unite behind HER and push HER message. dont confuse the issue please.

Chapstaff said...

I rather liked the fact that Beverley "publicly disagreed" with Jemima Harrison.

Whilst backing her all the way she doesn't have to agree with everything Jemima says!

Interesting blog.

Life With Dogs said...

The more of this I read about in my travels, the less I like dog shows. Let's hope that these are very isolated and quickly forgotten speedbumps...

Anonymous said...

chapstaff, jemima is the face of this campaign and we should stand behind her.

Anonymous said...

Hi Beverley
well, I'm sorry it was "rigged" and the GSDs were being deliberately targeted. That's bad.
I still can't see why they want a dog to look like that. If I wanted one, I would do as a friend has done, which is acquire a GSD puppy with a straight back from the police or from one of those breeders that still go for the old type. However I agree with you that the squashed-face breeds, including of course the cavalier, are suffering the most.
I welcomed Claire's comment, thinking at last someone was speaking their mind, because there seemed to be no other criticism at all. I had no idea it was rigged and I worked in tv for 17 years (BBC)!
I feel very dismayed at the lack of action taken by the KC since PDE.
Can't someone challenge them, or Caroline Kisko, to respond to Jemima Harrison's open letter to them?
In that letter JH outlines everything that needs to be done.
The KC says it will take time and goes on about educating the public but that's not the point because it's the KC that regulates things.
I myself would like to see the breed standards torn up and replaced by just a vague description.
I'd like to see a current-affairs-type tv discussion programme, with Caroline Kisco explaining why she is taking no action, with various geneticists and vets putting their view of how breeds could be improved.
It's very sad because if nothing is done soon, our old breeds will be in an even worse state than they are now.
One can see why people are going for all these crosses now. Every other dog my Sussex spaniel and I meet while our on walks on Wimbledon Common seems to be a labradoodle or some other "doodle", or a terrier cross. The other day we met one new to us - a Caverpoo.
Julia Lewis





Caroline Kisko could be there

Anonymous said...

whilst im happy that beverly has jumped on the bandwagon it is JEMIMA who is leading this cause. beverly needs to take a backseat on this.

Anonymous said...

the lack of any knowledge is shown by some of the daft views given on here no wonder people are fooled into buying cockpoos labradoodle etc. Just how many who make such daft comments have actually been to a dog show............. if they make a post in the future perhaps they should also confirm how many or when they last went to a show so they can justify the ability to comment , after all its like a theatre critics who writes a damming review without having seen the play.