It's Crufts week, so suddenly the world is taking an interest in dogs again. Telegraph were the first straining at the leash with this offering on hair removal and cosmetics ...
There really is no place for the 'win at all costs' mentality in the dog world. Those who cosmetically alter their dogs really do need dissuading. I'm sure most people who love dogs would never dream of using a harsh chemical on their dog's back or nose to win a prize, but those that do need to be very clearly shown the door rather than just be tipped off not to do it in the view of the press!
I clearly remember the day when one of my Beardies nose faded and went pink spotted. I was offered two bottles of chemicals to restore her hooter to its perfect blue colour. She was otherwise a gorgeous girl, but with a spotty nose she'd never have won anything. I now know that spotty pigment can be an early sign of autoimmune problems, sadly a major and growing health concern in our lovely breed. I was only a kid at the time and the person offering me the bottles was very senior in the show world and bragged he was able to match any colour nose with his chemicals. You had to apply one chemical after the other to stain the nose for several weeks. Who knows what on earth was in those brown glass bottles? We ended up rehoming our lovely dog to a pet home as her pigment regularly failed - often coinciding with a season or another dog having a litter. But if we had used the bottles and she'd become a champion and we'd bred on from her... would anyone have ever known?
Bad nose pigment has been being 'improved' for decades. Poodles have had their colours 'improved' for decades.
These are things that may somehow have been tacitly acceptable in the past, but no longer. These habits need to be shed by a dog breeding world that now wants to be perceived as health conscious and serious. It has always been a can of worms that the KC knew existed but were loathe to open.
Using nasty chemicals to make a hairy dog hairless just wasn't ever in the bounds of remotely normal acceptable behaviour. Terriers have had their ear carriage and tails altered surgically by amateurs for probably decades.
Those who think it's okay need to be encouraged to take up another pastime pretty swiftly.
And a word of warning, I've taken part in the Mentorn documentary Good Dog Bad Dog which will be shown immediately after the Crufts coverage on Sunday on More4. They filmed for hours and hours and I've no idea which bits they will use. But one of our staff was alarmed to see me pop up in a commercial break advertising the show. I've tried to be positive. But it's still a bit too early to be breaking open the Champagne. We're a lot further on than we were a few years ago, but there's still an awfully long way to go.