Lhassa Apso La fin de l'authentique


As the "Socièté Centrale Canine" (S.C.C.) celebrates the 120th anniversary of its foundation, it is interesting to examine this extract from the SCC origin; it informs us about canine life at that time.

The S.C.C. was created in188, in Paris, at the "Centre de la Chasse", (Section du Jockey Club ) - Hunting Circle, Jockey Club Section.

Long before, the Canine sport existed already in France but was not organised and had no official directives. We learn from the" Bulletin de la Société Impériale d'Acclimatation", that this Society had organised a Dog Exhibition - the first ever existing - in the "Jardin d' Acclimatation du Bois de Boulogne" Paris from May 3rd to May 10th 1863. The President of the organising committee and the Jury was the eminent Professor M. de Quatrefages from the Museum and member of the Institute, the Director of the exhibition was Mr Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, in his report, describes the goal of the event as follows :

“It was not a mere curiosity exhibition, still less a market we intended to open. We wanted from a scientific and practical point of view, to bring together a collection of dogs as complete as possible, in order to classify pure breeds, utility or pet breeds, and to determine crossbreeds that should be maintained. In one word, to do a study and a general revision of the species. This is the reason why the title of "Universal" was given to the Exhibition."

Fully imbued of this spirit, several amateur cynophiles decided to create the S.C.C.

Restore old local breeds, introduce and acclimatise the best foreign species in France. Such was the purpose.

In one word, for dog exhibitions to serve as a big natural history lesson.

For many years, a great and important work has been carried out on these bases.

Today the landscape has changed. In the last twenty years dogs have taken a preponderant place in France and in the world . According to statistics, we have more dogs than any other European country. Speculators have been fully aware of this fact and they have understood the benefit they could derive from it. As a result, a profit driven industry has developed whose spirit is far removed from the pure love of dogs.


A whole collection of dog related activities and production of dog related products have come into being : promoters of exhibitions, breeders, judges, handlers, groomers , suppliers of food, cosmetics and other dog related items who profits from these activities.

And the dogs in the middle of all this ??? They have become the alibi of the system; they are the fashion casualties.

All the modern technology has been used to show canine breeds to their best advantage. But excess was the inevitable result. Show exhibitions such as we know them today have given rise to the hyper types that do not respect the animal’s health or temper. Like in the circus games in Antiquity, more and more shows, more and more effects are needed .The “ Best in Show” is the example of a ridiculous and useless exercise. Using dogs as show attractions is something indefinitely unpleasant and that doesn’t seem right. Actually, what can be the value of a decision that compares incomparable animals? How can we liken a Chi Hua Hua to a Saint Bernard ?

The European Convention for the Protection of the Animals, has finallt begun to take into account all the maltreatment in the animal world. Many years have been necessary to enforce some rules.


Some dogs’ ears or tails will no longer be cut off as was the usual practice; dogs whose barking is disturbing will no longer need have their vocal cords cut, but people will train them well, nails and claws of our familiar animals will not be removed; our pets’ fur won’t be shorn ; only a little water will be allowed when handlers give the dog’s hair a last comb just before coming into the ring ; aesthetic operations to remove some morphological flaws won’t be allowed.

Little by little, a very new vision of the dog is being developed and consequently a new conception of the show is taking shape, in the literal as in the figurative sense.

If the public is eager to learn, it must be given a accurate information. People don’t go to a Dog Show to see a majorettes’ ballet but to know, to appreciate and to compare dog breeds.

For all these reasons, the Judge will have to explain his decision, make it interesting and instructive. This is not the case today.

I attended one dog show where the Judge explained in the microphone the reasons for his choice. I can tell you that the public was taking part with big interest ; they were learning something. People were not remaining passive, they were not listening a decision that they couldn’t understand. They were involved in the game.

All the excesses committed to obtain fit dogs for Shows ( genetic engineering, mixing dominating animals, life conditions in total contradiction to the animal’s nature, use of alkaloid, and so on…), in fact, everything that can be done to sacrifice dogs to the altar of our vanity, ended up moving the authorities.

Now the persons in charge of the dog world are trying to come back to a more respectful way of life and behaviour towards the animal. If the Canine Societies’, Clubs’, breeders’ and judges’ work has given a good deal of positive effect, this performance hasn’t been able to avoid many deviations: in particular the expansion of hyper-type dogs that denies these animals any dignity, they are considered as objects ; another deviation has led to the conversion of some of them into dangerous dogs - as they are called- with the dramatic consequences we know.

All this wouldn’t have happened if animals had been more respected. It seems to me that the spirit which has buoyed the establishment of the first universal exhibition of 1863 shows us how today's knowledge and respect of the dog could harmoniously be melted.

“It was not a mere curiosity exhibition, still less a market we intended to open. We wanted from a scientific and practical point of view, to bring together a collection of dogs as complete as possible, in order to classify pure breeds, utility or pet breeds, and to determine crossbreeds that should be maintained. In one word, to do a study and a general revision of the species."

Less marketing, more compassion.



Yolande De Zarobe
Pastel
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