Monday, December 24, 2012

The Boxer--What Judges Look For…

Editor's note: This article was originally published in the January 2012 issue of ShowSight Magazine.

--Stephanie Abraham
Judges’ Education Chair:  American Boxer Club

               Some years ago, a well known multi-breed judge stated to me in consternation, “This breed is so hard to judge—why, you have 16 points in the Standard on ‘head’ alone!”  As I thought about her remarks, it occurred to me that she might be technically correct, but that no one judging the Boxer ought to be dissecting the Standard (and the breed) by despairing that she might not be able to appreciate all “16 points.”  While our Standard is, I believe, an intelligent and defining document, and of the greatest value to judges and breeders alike, it is the overall “sense” of it that all of us should take away after reading it.  It actually defines essential breed type. And isn’t it ‘type’ that remains the most important characteristic of any breed, and one that is often the most elusive?
                   Type is actually detailed in the opening paragraph of the Standard, revised by the parent club in 2005, telling us that the Boxer is a medium size, square dog, combining “strength and agility with elegance and style…  In judging the Boxer first consideration is given to general appearance and overall balance. Special attention is then devoted to the head, after which the individual body components are examined for their correct construction, and the gait evaluated for efficiency.”
             SOooo...the Boxer is square and medium sized, elegant, stylish, and balanced. We then pay special attention to the head (all 16 points!) and evaluate the overall dog. Several considerations come to mind:
            First, what does “medium size” mean?  We have all seen many very tall dogs and bitches in the ring in recent years.  Yet we have no size disqualification.  The recommended heights are 21 ½-23 ½ for bitches and 23-25 for males.  It is up to the individual judge if he wants to reward a 26” or even taller dog, or whether he penalizes a 22” one …all sizes are acceptable under the breed Standard. The parent club did not raise the height limits in its 2005 revision of the Standard—except at the LOWER end, therefore stating its preference to keep the sizes moderate.  Nonetheless, a glorious taller dog or bitch may prove irresistible to both judge and breeder alike—and is perfectly “legal” under the Standard.
           Squareness in the Boxer should be greatly prized.  The “form and function” adage never more clearly applies than in this concept.  The Boxer was used to run down and hold fierce wild game—bear and boar—and had to be square to make quick turns through the forest at breakneck speed when pursuing his prey around trees and boulders over uneven terrain.  So the “squareness” proviso has a historical precedent and should be heeded by the modern judge, even though the dog is no longer used as a hunter.  Again, it comes down to a sense of how well the Boxer in front of us is likely to do the job for which he was bred.
      The Boxer’s lines are clean and easily analyzed—there is no long hair to disguise the outline for good or ill.  Therefore ‘style,’ or how the judge interprets that, is evident at a glance. To me, taut musculature without coarseness, all contributing to ‘strength,’ the long arched neck properly set as it flows into the shoulders, and balanced angulation front and rear all contribute to this elusive notion of ‘style and elegance.’
      Certainly the most difficult portion of the Standard to understand is proper head type. Indeed, across the country excellent heads are sadly becoming harder and harder to find, and too many of us are forgetting that form follows function in head type as well as body type—i.e.: we are not valuing the construction that allowed the Boxer to be an efficient hunter.
         First, the Boxer’s jaws are not those of a ‘slasher’ with a scissors bite.  Instead, the Boxer’s undershot jaw, ideally wide and straight across for greater gripping power, was used to catch hold of a struggling prey animal and keep it under control until the human hunter arrived on the scene to dispatch it.   I am often asked “What amount of space should there be between upper and lower rows of teeth?”  The answer is that there is no exact measure—if the jaw is too undershot, then teeth or tongue will show when the mouth is closed. If the dog is barely undershot, he may be afflicted with an overlip that may make him look like Andy Gump (the upper lip covering all or part of the chin).  But if the lips meet evenly, the upper one just touching and lying on top of (not over) the other, and the chin is perceptible from the front and the side—he is probably ok.  Don’t worry about precise distances. All of the contours of the head accommodate these many features in a unique way.  Once you see an outstanding head, you will always remember it. We do not count teeth in the Boxer, but wider jaws are preferred to narrow ones that would have less ability to ‘hold’ simply because they would grip a lesser amount of skin and flesh.
      When viewing the Boxer head from the front, the first thing that should be apparent is that the expression is sweet and kind—the jaws are formidable, but the eyes impart a gentle look, have plenty of ‘fill’ under them, and are frontally placed (as are our own).  They are generous, dark, and full—all so that the dog could see his fleeing prey better. There is nothing harsh or sharp in a Boxer’s facial features, and definitely no slanted or almond-shaped eyes on the side of the head.  It may seem odd that such a fierce pursuer would have a sweet expression, but we must remember that the Boxer was never a killer, but rather a ‘holder.’  The ears (cropped or uncropped) are set on high to catch every nuance of sound in the forest.  Wrinkling on the forehead is moderate and contributes to the gentleness of expression.  Most critically, the tip of the nose lies higher than the ‘stop,’ which allowed the dog to breathe while holding a mouthful of moving fur. This is an essential breed characteristic, and one that is most obvious in profile.  The fact that the blunt muzzle is approx. 2/3 the width of the skull and 1/3 the length of the head from the occiput to the tip of the nose will help to define a ‘look’ that will become apparent to you without ever having to actually think in terms of measurements again.
        No proper hunter could accomplish his goals without essential soundness.  The Boxer should be balanced for efficiency of gait, and have excellent reach and drive for propelling power at the gallop and the trot.  His movement, however, does not differ appreciably from many other working dogs—it is the square outline and the head that sets him apart in the show ring.  The slightly sloping topline levels out in motion, and as speed increases the head and neck stretch forward unless (sadly) pulled up by handlers in the ring.  The Boxer definitely single tracks, and imbalances of angulation are evident in those dogs who sidewind or move wide behind or have a hackney gait in front.  Those compensations are due to structural flaws and should at once be a red flag to the judge that something is not right—often a lack of correct balance.
        The Boxer must be as fearless in the ring as he was at the hunt—and we implore judges NOT to reward timid specimens.  To that effect, any dogs that shy away from the judge should be severely penalized, as the Standard advises.  While obvious displays of shyness are clear, some are more subtle. For example, in the Boxer, the tail is carried erect in motion, and a tail held in a tucked position indicates an unhappy, insecure animal.  Likewise, the nervous dog that is constantly swiveling around, looking for bogeymen behind every chair, is not of sound temperament.  We do tolerate modest displays of aggression towards other dogs, so long as they are controlled.  Thankfully, such displays are rather infrequent, and you will almost never see a Boxer who is aggressive towards people. 
       When the Boxers enter the ring to be judged, it should be evident at a seemingly casual glance which specimens are to be most prized.  Balance is clear; square outline is clear; attitude is clear.  When you come up close to the dog, head type and expression are obvious—you must educate your “eye” so that you do not have to think twice about what all those “points” really mean.  Markings (or lack thereof) are not so important, and we usually advise judges to be ‘colorblind’ in the ring.  While attractive white markings may appeal, they are not required in any way, and the so-called ‘plain or classic’ Boxer should enjoy parity with his flashier cousins.  In other words, as the old tale advises, just imagine an elephant and chip away all the parts of him that are not “Boxer.” Then you will see your near-perfect specimen materialize before you, and can rely on your good judgment to reward him properly so that he makes his mark on this glorious breed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sheep thrills!

by Louise Watson, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I’ve been involved in the purebred dog world for 40 years but have only had boxers in my life for the last 15 years.  In 2004, I decided to approach Cheryl Jennings of JEMS Boxers about her litter by “Jam” out of her beloved girl “Brier”.  I didn’t know Cheryl well, but we had mutual friends and I hoped that she would find me worthy of one of her pups.  Hands trembling, I dialed her telephone number, cleared my throat, took a deep breath and got ready to make my case as to why I would be worthy!  I needn’t have worried.  Those who know Cheryl know that she is a gregarious and warm person and she soon put me at ease.  And so a 12 week old flashy brindle boxer puppy made the trip to my home in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He was to be named “George”.  The support and friendship of Cheryl Jennings and Dianna Emmons (JEMS Boxers U.S.A.) throughout George’s “career” has been tremendous.  Dianna and Cheryl refer to George simply as “Alphabet Boy” in recognition of the multitude of letters after his name.

At the age of 10 months George was first introduced to herding sheep.  He was very enthusiastic.  Actually, truth be told, he was a little wild.  Fast forward to the current day and George continues to maintain his enthusiasm but has the necessary skills to work livestock calmly and effectively – without scattering them like popcorn!

Although not nearly as flamboyant as his namesake, Boy George (the lead singer of the band “Culture Club”), George does things with great flair.  George’s herding career has exceeded my wildest expectations.  George’s obedience and rally titles were also earned with multiple high in class awards.  But it’s in herding where he’s a bit of an over achiever!

George’s herding record to date:

·         #1 all breed Intermediate Canadian Kennel Club herding dog - 2010
·         8 High in Trial awards
·         4 Reserve High in Trial awards
·         12 High in Class awards
·         1 High Combined Score award (arena)
·         1 High Combined Score award (stock dog)
·         High in Trial awards won on both cattle and sheep
·         High in Class awards won on cattle, sheep and ducks
·         13 championship points earned to date (including his majors) – just 2 more to go!
·         7 Herding Excellent (HX) points earned to date – just 3 more to go!
·         Championship points earned on all types of stock used in CKC trials (cattle, sheep, ducks)
·         1st boxer to earn an Advanced herding title
·         Has earned Advanced herding titles on both sheep and ducks

George is trained and handled by Lynn Leach.  She is an AKC, CKC and AHBA (American Herding Breed Association) judge and is a much sought after clinician and travels extensively worldwide judging and teaching clinics.  Lynn and her husband, Jim, own Downriver Farm in the beautiful Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

George LOVES Lynn and to witness the teamwork between them is magical.  With Lynn at the helm, George has earned two scores of 98/100 – the highest scores Lynn has earned with a dog of ANY breed in her 20++ years of trialing.  Lynn, thank you so much for making my Boy George shine!

Herding competitors are supportive of each other and have been very accepting of George who, as a boxer, is definitely the odd man out among all the Aussies, Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, etc.  I will always remember a trial weekend when a group of fellow competitors said they adored George and wanted to wear “I heart George” T-shirts.  It was one of those weekends which makes you smile until it hurts!

I've spent umpteen hours in my role as a “hockey mum” chauffeuring George to lessons with Lynn and observing and learning.  All my time observing Lynn's interaction with George has definitely helped me in my current “journey” with the first dog I'm working with myself in herding (my dog, Jet).  However, “seeing” and “doing” are two different things and I've certainly stumbled along the way!  But now, after a few months, Jet and I are becoming more simpatico and the training frustrations are becoming less and the celebrations becoming more frequent.  One day you'll be euphoric about your beautiful run or training session and the next day your ego will be squashed like a bug!  This sport keeps you humble that's for sure.  But, it's the days when you and your dog are working as a team or when you make a training breakthrough that keep you coming back.

Unlike in conformation and other performance sports, in herding there is the additional factor of the livestock to consider.  The livestock are intelligent, thinking creatures.  They are affected by the weather, the time of day, the “draws” on the field, how they were treated by a dog and handler the last time they were worked, their perception of the dog, their confidence in the handler's ability to control the dog and numerous other factors.  Also, on the last day of a trial weekend, the livestock may be cranky and be more likely to challenge the dog.  These are factors which just don't come into play in any other dog sport!

In May 2012 Lynn Leach and I embarked on a 3 week herding road trip down the west coast of the U.S.  Lynn was scheduled to teach a number of herding clinics enroute – including a herding clinic for boxers!  It was going to be a real highlight of the trip and a breed first.  I was soooo looking forward to it!

Sadly, George was unable to participate in that boxer herding clinic due to the events that transpired.  A couple of days before the boxer herding clinic, Lynn and I discovered George having cluster seizures.  George had never had seizures before.  To make a long story short, George was diagnosed in California with a brain tumour by three different veterinarians (including a neurologist).  I was completely and utterly devastated.

Upon my return home to Vancouver, I took George to my own vet to discuss palliative care and the timing of euthanasia.  After examining George, my vet excused himself from the exam room and returned holding a pharmacology book opened to a particular page.  Pointing at the page, he said “read this”.  I read the indicated passage and things started clicking into place.  George’s seizures, goose stepping and stiffness were text book symptoms of Metronidazole (Flagyl) toxicity!  Since being diagnosed the previous year with Irritable Bowel Disease, George had been prescribed Flagyl and he was no longer tolerating it.  No brain tumour!

My vet has always been a superstar in my eyes and he really came through for George this time.  Unfortunately, George had been prescribed Phenobarbital by one of the vets in California.  The process then began to wean George from the Phenobarbital, a long process which in itself can cause seizures.  During that time, George was to be kept quiet and his activity was to be restricted to leash walks only.  Nine long weeks later, the weaning process was complete.

Lynn Leach spent the summer of 2012 in Europe teaching herding clinics and judging.  She returned back to British Columbia in time to work with George for only 2 brief training sessions and then we headed out on a road trip for a weekend of CKC trials.  We really weren’t expecting much from George that weekend because he’d been sidelined for so long.  But, with CKC herding trials being so few and far between, off we went!

George was dubbed "The Comeback Kid" by fellow competitors that weekend!  I was BEYOND thrilled to see George back working and enjoying his favourite activity after his recent trials and tribulations.  After such a long hiatus from training and activity, George’s stamina wasn’t great.  But he tried hard - and came through in spades.  He won the coveted award of High Combined Score!  His combined score for the weekend was a whopping 71.5 points ahead of the next highest scoring dog.  George also won a Reserve High in Trial, earned another 7 points towards his Herding Championship and another 5 points towards his Herding Excellent title!  To say that he surpassed our expectations would be an understatement!  Good Boy George!
The 2012 CKC herding trial season is now over.  The next opportunity to enter CKC trials will be in May 2013 and George will be 9 years old then.  And, God willing, George will be there!

It’s wonderful to see more and more people giving herding a try with their boxers.  Boxers are “wicked smart” and truly a versatile breed!

It may appear to the uninitiated that herding folk are crazy.  Why else would we don multiple layers of clothing and smelly rain gear to traipse out into a mucky field?  And to have our sometimes “overly enthusiastic” dog push the sheep into us - and sometimes over us!  To finish our training session with mud and muck in unmentionable places.  It’s not because we’re fashionistas that’s for darn sure.  It’s because herding is an addiction, that’s why.  Pure and simple.  And, thankfully, it’s an addiction for which there is no cure.

Photo #1:
“George” is also known as JEMS Culture Club CGN CD RA HA HAsd SDS Am. RA RLFI‑s HTDI‑s HRDII‑s VB VBX
By MBIS/MBISS Am. Ch. JEMS Pearl Jam LOM ex MBIS/BISS Am. Can. Ch. Stevenstars-N-JEMS Crown Royal DOM DOMC HIC
Bred by Cheryl Jennings (JEMS Canada), Dianna Emmons (JEMS U.S.A.), Marcella Mushovic and Beth Ann Mushovic

Photo #2:
May 2010, Laidlaw, British Columbia:  2 High in Trial awards (cattle and sheep), 1 Reserve High in Trial, High Combined Stockdog!  L to R - Judge Terry Kenney (California), Lynn Leach (Downriver Farm), George, Judge Steve Waltenburg (California)

Photo #3:
"The Standoff"

George (60 pounds) faces off with a North Country Cheviot ewe (180 pounds)

Score: George-1, Ewe-0

Photo #4:

Celebrating Boy George’s “Comeback Tour”!
September 2012

Our happiness about George’s wins took a definite back seat to our joy about his return to good health!

L to R - Judge Nancy Ward (Washington), Louise Watson, George, Lynn Leach (trainer/handler extraordinaire), Judge Ron Fischer (Washington)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Urgent Message for California Regional Goers!

Once again we're approaching the dates for an ABC show, the 2012 California Regional. Fortunately for those of us in the West we are within driving distance this time, some still a ways away, but doable.

We know however that in the not too distant future loom at least two years of shows in Indianapolis – right at 2200 miles for me. Did anyone happen to catch the price of gas today? Over $5.00 a gallon here in CA. 

We westerners have been patient – more than patient – for some 14 years, and the time is NOW to implement a change. Everyone PLEASE, if you are going to be at the Regional and are an ABC member, make it to the membership meeting. Another motion is going to be made re contracting with the Topeka site to begin with the year following the two now contracted for in Indiana (2015). Not around the corner, but the 1640 plus or minus miles from here to Topeka and essentially the same from the other coast is drivable in a reasonable amount of time.

Let's put this long overdue issue to rest and implement the change the ABC membership voted for in 1998.

Cheryl A. Cates
All Breed Professional Handler

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Herding We Will Go! Wendy Morawski * Skidoo Boxers * Vallejo, California

I have to start off by saying THANK YOU to Reegan Ray and Diane Stephens for pushing the ABC to petition the AKC to allow Boxers to compete for AKC herding titles. Without their hard work, talent and “stick-to-itiveness,” this would never have happened.

My friend Melissa Sheehan was the first one to get interested in trying her hand at herding, and asked me if I'd like to go with her and her Boxer Ava for the Herding Instinct Test when two openings became available. I said sure, not really knowing much about the test.

The trainer who was to conduct the test was AKC herding judge Debbie Pollard. She said she had heard of Pip the Boxer in Southern California and George in Canada, but hadn’t as yet tested any Boxers. Anyway, I took Monica to be tested; she did super and seemed totally thrilled with herding. Ava also passed, so Melissa and I decided to sign up for lessons.

Monica was fabulous, and was enjoying every second of it and I think she actually impressed Deb who I don’t think was totally convinced of the idea of Boxers as herders.

But gradually, when Monica realized she wasn’t allowed to actually bring down one of the sheep, she totally lost interest. That’s when Monica’s daughter Suzie was tested. Like her dam, Suzie had tremendous prey drive, but I didn’t know if herding would hold her interest, either; you know Boxers – they are easily bored and even more easily side-tracked.

With Deb’s input, I decided to continue on with Suzie. After all, Monica was over 7 years old and deserved to call the shots on her own “hobby.” So we trained every week, rain or shine (in rain we were in a big barn). After a short while, I think Suzie started to really get Debbie's respect because she saw in Suzie the potential to be good at it – she had the drive needed but also would obey commands when given. Meanwhile Suzie had finished her Championship so it was a great outlet for us both. Suzie needed a job and I needed a pastime we both enjoyed.

The first two trials of the year were coming up and Debbie said she thought Suzie was ready to be entered in them, so my friend Dianne Haas with her dog Hooch and Suzie and I entered our first herding trial. This trial would be judged by two different judges and was a Pass/Fail. Well the big day arrived and of course it was super hot but we arrived with cool-coats, ice, water and shade clothes. Hooch was the first to be judged, he is a very happy Boxer who enjoys life to the fullest, we were out in a field for the judging and Hooch did the Boxer happy dance in between his rounds of herding. He finished to a big round of applause and qualified on day one. Next it was Suzie's turn and frankly she shocked me: she listened to her commands and people watching and seeing Boxers herd for the first time commented on how well she was working. Suzie finished to another round of applause from all the people watching, and she qualified, too.

Next day, basically the same routine and both Boxers qualified once again, so now Suzie and Hooch had their HT titles (Approved AKC Herding Tested) – the “baby” titles. I might add that Melissa, who had first got us interested, had bred her boxer Ava, so she had quit working her and had brought one of her other boxers. Unfortunately, like Monica, Melissa’s other Boxer wasn’t interested – kinda like conformation, some just don’t care for it. Melissa will start up again as soon as Ava’s pups are in their new homes.

Then Debbie told me there were two new trials coming up and she thought Suzie was ready as she was working the fence well, so we went for a more advanced lesson. Oops! Suzie was naughty and got into BIG trouble with Debbie. Instead of keeping the sheep together, Suzie chased one but even though Debbie yelled at her, I could see a bond of mutual respect forming between dog and trainer.

Hooch came down with kennel cough so didn’t enter and once again it was hotter than blazes, but off Suzie and I went. This time Suzie was perfect, she did the sit at the start while the sheep were let into the field and she waited until Debbie told her to start. Suzie had to herd the sheep between two panels keeping them on the fence line, halt and stand waiting to be allowed to continue, reverse the sheep and bring them back toward their shed, sit and wait while Debbie opened the pen for the sheep and then told her to come and sit while her leash was put on.

The judge said she was not only a very pretty Boxer, but worked better than any others she had seen, and my chest puffed out. One more trial tomorrow with a new judge.

It was now Sunday morning and about 100 degrees and after packing fans, ice, cool-coats, etc, we were off.  Same work pattern as the day before and if possible Suzie was even better. When one of the sheep decided to do a u-turn Suzie immediately brought it back to join the others.  Suzie qualified again with *Very Nice Boxer* written on her sheet by the judge. Suzie now had her PT and HT AKC titles. PT stands for Pre-Trial, so now she goes on to the REAL trials where she has to pen the sheep, move them and so on. All I know is it’s very involved and I really hope Suzie continues to like her job.

Suzie’s registered name is CH. Skidoo's In Your Face, HT, PT.  She is the first AKC champion Boxer to get herding titles plus the first owned by an ABC member…and you’re darned right I am proud of her!!

The Boxer – The Dog for All Seasons and All Reasons!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Animal Rights versus Animal Welfare: The BIG Difference!

I belong to an online canine genetics discussion group whose purpose is to acquaint 
dog breeders with the dangers of inbreeding and the overuse of popular sires ( Many of the list members hail from the UK and Continental Europe, where in a number of countries, exhibitors can no longer show cropped and docked dogs; and where in one country, the UK, the BOB winners in several breeds were disqualified from Group competition at Crufts, THE prestigious championship show of the year, because they were deemed in a Kennel Club mandated inspection by a GP vet to have visible “health” issues such as ectropion.     

After the Crufts disqualifications took place there was a lot of discussion on the genetics list about breeds that have become so “extreme” that their exaggerated features have literally become health defects: e.g., super short noses in bulldogs and pugs that result in breathing difficulties; excessive skin folds in Shar-pei that contribute to chronic skin problems; grossly over-angulated rears in GSD’s, etc. A number of posters applauded the efforts of the UK KC to “regulate” UK breeders and breed standards, in order to eliminate what those list members considered harmful and cruel exaggerations.

Ironically, at the same time on the same list, other list members were urging us to post comments on the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) website in opposition to a proposed USDA/APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) rule whose unintended consequences would be to literally criminalize many small hobby and show breeders, despite that it was supposedly aimed at regulating large-scale, commercial “internet” breeders.  
The juxtaposition of these two issues on the list – both of which centered around regulating breeders in the name of animal welfare – made me wonder if animal welfare advocates in other countries realized just how dangerous to our way of life the animal rights movement was here in the United States. Surely no one is in favor of creating dogs whose extreme features cause them physical distress; and perhaps AR activists in other countries are only concerned with animal cruelty (?); but in the US, they truly want to stop all breeding and ownership of domestic animals, which they consider tantamount to human slavery. That's why I get my back up when well-meaning people who want to eliminate extreme breed characteristics suggest that we identify and inspect certain breeds at shows to prevent any deviation from a norm established by “breed experts” and vets; and police breeders to make sure they're adhering to regulations established by some central authority – the UK Kennel Club, the AKC, the FCI, the USDA.

In this blog, two noted US hobby breeders – Sharyn Hutchens of Timbreblue Whippets in Virginia and Judy Voran of Strawberry Boxers in Arizona, explain how the AR movement works to achieve its aims in the US and Canada:

The Effect of the USDA/APHIS Proposal on Small Hobby & Show Breeders
Sharyn Hutchens, Timbreblue Whippets, Virginia

This APHIS proposal would apply to anyone who owns or co-owns four (4) intact bitches, regardless of age, and requires that the buyer personally go to the “premises” where the puppy was whelped and raised to make the purchase.

For every "large internet breeder" who will fall under this rule, the sacrifice will be dozens if not hundreds of hobby breeders who are working very hard to keep our breeds healthy. Furthermore, it will limit people's choices to 1) common breeds they can find locally and breeders they can visit personally; or 2) large USDA inspected breeders who will be able to ship the less common breeds.

We don't ship our puppies, but I have occasionally met someone halfway -- usually someone who has bought a puppy from us before. The owners from New York, Texas, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Florida who have flown in to buy puppies from us and take them home in carriers (several of them more than once) would now have to fly in, rent a car and drive 50 miles to our home – our town does not have an airport – and possibly spend an overnight before being able to get a flight back out. Or they could buy a whippet from a pet store, I suppose. This would be better, how? The elderly couple from Maryland who have bought two adult whippets from us would not have them today – they are not able to drive the six hours to our home, so I took the dogs to them.

My second breed is the Cirneco dell’ Etna, a rare sighthound. There are only about 800 of them, I am told, in the country. After much research, I recently bought my first one from a breeder who met me at a show. The dog is simply delightful and the breeder and I have become close friends. But if these regulations had been in place, I wouldn't own this dog. First, the woman I bought her from is the co-breeder. The puppies were whelped and raised to eight weeks at the home of the other co-breeder. So the woman who sold me the puppy was technically selling me a puppy that was not "born and raised on her premises." And of course, she could certainly not have turned over the puppy to me at a dog show. The whole experience of buying this puppy and learning to love a new breed has been the highlight of my year. But it would be totally illegal if the regulations go into effect. How would this have been better for anyone at all? Certainly it would not have been better for me or my puppy.

Before my husband and I will give up our privacy and allow federal inspectors into our home, we will quit breeding. It has been my life for 30 years or more and I'm proud to say we have been strong advocates of genetic diversity for years. But my freedom and privacy are worth more to me even than dog breeding. As another list member pointed out, we do not allow the federal government to come into our homes to inspect how our children are raised – why on earth would we allow it simply because we breed a litter of dogs every now and then? And before you say it, no, of course we have nothing to hide. People come to our home frequently to meet our dogs, learn about whippets, and occasionally to buy puppies. The point is that we are Americans, and this country is based on freedom. How easily some of us would give that away!

There will always be bad breeders, just as there will always be child abusers, murderers, and rapists. We live in an imperfect world. But bad breeders are the responsibility of animal control, just as abusers, murderers and rapists are the responsibility of the police. We do not allow the government to "inspect" innocent people just in case something bad might be going on.

What bothers me most about the people who believe these new regulations are a good idea is that they apparently believe trading our constitutional rights for some minimal reduction in bad pet breeding practices is okay. And the ironic part is that in the end, it is the animals who will suffer. Typical animal rights.

And the other irony in this is that there have been NO studies to discover whether "sight unseen internet sales" are a serious problem, much less a large enough problem to justify this kind of invasion of privacy. NONE. The USDA has some anecdotal evidence provided by HSUS. Period. And we make regulations for thousands of breeders based on that?
On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 10:44 AM, Judy Voran posted the following to the Showboxer-L email list:

I am posting this link to a court ruling in California involving the Humane Society of the United States because I think that members of this list [Cangen] whose experiences are with their residence in other countries do not understand the threat to animal ownership in the United States.  The threat is real and it is serious.  Well-funded organizations here in the US are focused on outlawing any kind of animal ownership or sport.

Tables turned on Humane Society
Jim Matthews, Outdoors
Posted:   07/26/2012 08:32:04 PM PDT
Updated:   07/27/2012 03:06:28 PM PDT

The Humane Society of the United States, an organization that does next to nothing for animal shelters but sues, badgers and lobbies politicians and businesses into adopting its radical animals rights agenda, is getting a taste of its own medicine.

In a little-reported ruling by a judge in the District of Columbia earlier this month, the HSUS is going to court to face charges under RICO statues on racketeering, obstruction of justice, malicious prosecution and other charges for a lawsuit it brought and lost against Ringling Brothers Circus' parent company Feld Entertainment, Inc.

After winning the case alleging mistreatment of elephants in its circuses brought by Friends of Animals (later merged into HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), lawyers at Feld filed a countersuit with a litany of charges ranging from bribery to money laundering to racketeering. The attorneys for the animal rights groups asked the judge to dismiss all 
charges, but most remained because the evidence was overwhelming. So in early August, HSUS will be facing the music in a case that should attract the attention of hunters, ranchers, farmers and anyone impacted by HSUS' radical animal rights agenda.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.

For the first time, a group has fought back against the animal rights and environmental extremists who have been setting policy in this country for the past 20 years or more. Now, instead of getting rich off their lawsuits and fundraising schemes that misrepresent their efforts and accomplishments, they could be driven out of business. These groups have cost the farming and ranching industry jobs and raised the price of products we buy every day. They are behind the efforts to ban sport hunting across the nation. They have forced state wildlife and fishery agencies to waste countless millions of dollars on lawsuits and have spearheaded policies and legislation like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which has ruined livelihoods in recreational and commercial fishing without helping marine resources.

These groups operate with surly arrogance and believe they are above the law. Thankfully, that is not the case. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the 2012 ABC…

Until late last year, when most US airlines decided they would no longer carry “snub-nosed breeds” and the shipping charges of the few airlines that still accepted Boxers went through the roof, it was “merely” inconvenient for western ABC members and exhibitors to show their dogs at the ABC. Westerners had either to drive 3 or 4 days each way to get to the show site or take one or at most two dogs with them as excess baggage and fly. Even then, flying presented its own set of inconveniences, but it was doable.  Consequently, one ABC board of directors after another from 1998 to the present passed the buck on finding an equitable solution to what many saw as mostly a West Coast problem.

Today, passing the buck to the next board is no longer an option. Almost overnight, it’s gone from inconvenient to nearly impossible for would-be ABC exhibitors to get their dogs from the westernmost part of the US to Indianapolis – our host city through 2014.  That was brought home to the ABC president at the membership meeting in Kentucky this past May, when she asked the westerners present to be “patient,” and was greeted with a barrage of angry complaints from the meeting-goers.  It was also highlighted by the drop in entries between 2011 – 752 dogs entered – and 2012 – 619 dogs entered.

When Dr Paul Gerard made a motion to move the ABC to the center of the country at the membership meeting in 1998, everybody understood that he meant the geographic, not the demographic center of the country, and that’s exactly what the ABC membership voted for. When the site committee recommended Indianapolis over Topeka in 2011, many of the board assumed that we’d follow precedent and give the entire membership the opportunity to vote on the new location. But that didn't happen, and by 2014, the second year of the ABC contract with the Wyndham Hotel in Indianapolis, it will have been 16 years since ABC members voted two to one to move the ABC to the center of the country.

NO show site is going to be absolutely perfect in every respect, but the Topeka hotel has already been vetted by the site committee and hosted the 2010 Regional as well as a number of all-breed shows. The site committee's only criticism of the venue was the slightly more than an hour distance from the airport. As far as getting our dogs to the show is concerned, that’s not as important today as it was in 1998 or even 2011, considering that most airlines won’t fly our “snub-nosed” Boxers at all now. Topeka could provide an interim home for the ABC starting in 2015 while the board and membership decide whether we should consider a roving national instead of a permanent center-of-the-country site. But the ABC leadership needs to have a solution in place well before 2014, when the contract with the Wyndham Hotel will have to be renewed…or not.

As luck would have it, the Regional is going to be in California this year (Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2012). The Regional membership meeting will give western ABC members and their supporters the perfect opportunity to talk directly to the ABC president and board and ask how and when they plan to address the airlines’ new, game-changing policies. In view of that, I have a couple of suggestions:

First, if you’re an ABC member and are planning to attend the Regional, write to ABC Secretary Sandy Orr ( and ask her to put “Topeka 2015 Or Bust” on the membership meeting agenda. Also, contact California handler/breeder Cheryl Cates and let her know how you feel about not being able to show your dogs in the ABC Futurity and Specialty. ( Cheryl is the newest member of the ABC Site Committee – the only member from a western state – and hopefully will be able to offer input into any decision the committee makes on a 2015 show site.

Then, join forces with as many likeminded Regional-bound ABC members as possible and present a united front at the membership meeting, whether there’s a quorum or not. The unanimity of the members who spoke out at the May 2012 meeting was very effective in convincing a majority of the board to reconsider their vote on the selection of performance judges. United we stand; divided we’ll be sitting ringside in Indianapolis in 2015.

Finally, between now and the Regional, write to your board members and tell them you want them to take action on this issue before 2014. If you are personally acquainted with members of the current BOD, contact them directly and ask what they plan to do to secure a more accessible show site. I’ve listed the current directors below, but there’s no need for anyone to set up his or her own board email list. ABC Secretary Sandy Orr ( will see that your comments are forwarded to the entire board.

ABC members have been patient for 14 years – now let’s go give ‘em hell Harry! 

Elected Directors:
Linda Abel
Stephanie Abraham
Bridget Brown
Salli Moore-Kottas
Wendy Morawski
Sandy Orr
Sharon Steckler
Korinne Vanderpool
Judy Voran
Barry Wyerman

Regional Zone Directors for 2012/2013:
Zone A
Boxer Club of Long Island
Jeannie Hoffman
Zone B
Central Indiana Boxer Club
Brenda Staley
Zone C
Blue Grass Boxer Club
Phillip Koenig
Zone D
Missouri Valley Boxer Club
Lee Mitchell
Zone E
Boxer Club of San Diego County
Lois Trist

Thursday, June 21, 2012


PART I: Small Bombshell – BIG Noise!

The ABC membership meeting was much livelier than usual this year, with the introduction into the meeting shortly after it began of one brand new controversy and one longstanding one. I’m going to report on the new controversy in this issue of the BU Blog, and I’m also going to report – with great relief – that it’s already been resolved. Whew!

Here’s what happened:  with the exception of one board member who regularly participates in performance activities, it’s pretty fair to say that the rest of the board members, including yours truly, were completely clueless about what it takes to put on a successful obedience or agility trial.  Basically, we’ve all just trusted our obedience and agility chairpersons to do their thing, and the ABC performance events have continued to be a highlight of our national specialty show, year after year after year. This year, in addition to some spectacular performances by some fabulously talented and brilliantly trained Boxers, over $1100 was raised for the ABCF at the agility trials. But I diverge.

Toward the end of the board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the ABC president mentioned that she had received a complaint from a conformation-only exhibitor about the fact that the performance people could nominate and elect the conformation judges, but the conformation people had no say in the selection of the obedience and agility judges; and that furthermore, the performance judges were allowed to charge the club a fee in addition to their travel expenses, while the conformation judges were not permitted to charge a fee, but were expected to come for the “honor” of judging our national specialty.

Unfortunately, the ABC performance chairpersons weren’t at the meeting to explain what this writer has come to think of as “the performance facts of life,” so after a brief discussion of the issue, the board voted to add the performance judges to the annual ABC Specialty judges’ ballot so that ALL ABC members could nominate and vote for them. Big mistake.

In defense of the board though, it did seem unfair at the time that the obedience and agility judges routinely charged the ABC what appeared to be a fairly large fee (it wasn’t) for their services, while the conformation judges came for only the “honor” of judging the ABC + their travel and motel expenses.

Come to find out when several of us discussed our vote with the obedience and agility chairpersons a short while after the meeting, almost all parent breed clubs and all-breed kennel clubs leave the selection of performance judges to their obedience and agility chairs, because, due to the special requirements of performance events and the special demands on performance judges, it would be virtually impossible for most large clubs to book good, qualified judges via a general election held only one year in advance of the show. And it would probably end up being much more expensive for the ABC, too. Oops!

So when the subject came up at the membership meeting on Wednesday night and the obedience and agility chairs explained the procedures they used to select the performance judges as well as all the pre-show preparation the judges had to do before they even left home, the meeting attendees, many of whom had exhibited in the ABC obedience, rally and agility trials earlier in the week, were aghast. Loudly aghast. At the end of the meeting during “new business,” a member rose and moved that the board delay implementation of the decision until the ABC obedience and agility chairs had had an opportunity to provide input and information to the BOD. The motion passed almost unanimously.

After the ABC, there was a lot of discussion on the various Boxer email lists about the ABC obedience and agility events and the proposed change in the judges’ selection procedures.  Ultimately, the ABC president sent an email to the Boxer lists, asking for suggestions on how this “problem” could be resolved in a way that was equitable to both conformation and performance exhibitors.

One of the kindest responses to the president’s message was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Sadly, some of the other comments were sorely lacking in civility. Nonetheless, the individual board members listened to all the comments and digested the information we’d been given that explained the reasons behind the current judges’ selection procedures, and decided to reconsider our vote.

On Monday night, June 18, the ABC BOD held a conference call meeting and voted to rescind our original vote to change the performance judge selection process. The obedience and agility chairs will continue to select the judges for the ABC performance events as they always have, with an eye to hiring popular, qualified judges and keeping costs down for the club.  

During the meeting, two board members said they’d like to work on improved communication between conformation and performance people, so I think you’ll be hearing more about ABC performance events in the future, in a very good way.

You know, I enjoy reading stories with happy endings, and I enjoy writing them, too. If you’ll let me get up on my soapbox for a moment, I’ll let you in on an open secret:  the reason this story has a happy ending is that ABC and member club members elected some terrific Boxer people to this BOD – people who are really trying to do what’s best for the breed and the ABC membership. That’s why I’ve said again and again, let your board members know when you feel strongly about a certain issue. It works.

Please tune in next week for Part II - the BIG ABC bombshell. I think you all know what that is. J      

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Story of Miles: A Tragedy with a Happy Ending ~ by Beth Coviello-Davis, Belco Boxers

The conversation started innocently enough – discussing the upcoming dog show with a friend who was traveling here from another state. My friend casually mentioned that she’d have an “extra passenger” for the ride home and me, being nosey, asked who that could be.

 It seems there was a puppy in a bad situation down here in southern Massachusetts whose breeder put out a plea for help on the SBL. I admit I don’t really pay attention to a lot of the “stuff” on there, so I missed the original post, but my friend from NY did not. She offered to bring the puppy part of the way home from the show. His breeder would meet her on the NY/PA border. I offered to pick the little guy up on Saturday morning and transport him the 2 ½ hours to the dog show on Sunday. Next step put the breeder in touch with me…puppy rescue coming up!!

I received an urgent email the next morning, Wednesday, from the concerned breeder:  could I take the puppy ASAP??  She was worried he’d be dumped at a shelter, in a rescue or even on the side of the road!! Whoa!! This situation has now gone from bad to desperate!!  What happened that made it impossible for the new owner to keep the puppy a few more days???  The outrageous answer: the puppy, 15 weeks old, is not housebroken yet…L

I immediately agree to take him. The owner is given my work number (this is closer to his home) and he calls before I get there. Luckily my boss is also a Boxer breeder and she happily gives directions to the owner. It’s about an hour and a half drive to the grooming shop from the Cape Cod town where the puppy lives.

The puppy owner arrives at the shop. We are four Boxer breeders working there, all show people, all with twenty years experience in the breed, all rescuers of many boxers in bad situations. This man walked in with an emaciated, lame, but happy puppy. He looked me in the eye and told me the pup was playing with a dog that morning and hurt his leg. He told me the puppy’s name was Rocky. He handed me a bag of food (crappy food), his vet records and a slip lead with a puppy attached. I couldn’t get him out of there fast enough.  We all had tears in our eyes. Rocky hobbled happily into the grooming shop. 

After a quick evaluation we all agreed – the injury was NOT new, Rocky was in serious condition and he needed veterinary attention immediately. I called his breeder and told her he was going. The leg was hot, swollen and atrophied and Rocky was a walking skeleton. Hip bones, spine, ribs all showing but tail wagging – a true Boxer.

 My vet is a saint and said, “Bring him right down.” Rocky had a very high fever, was dehydrated and had a serious infection of his joint…bad stuff. It hit me hard, I lost my beautiful BISS girl to the same thing. I was scared to death for this puppy I barely knew. Some digging on his breeder’s part revealed the owner had brought him to the vet five days earlier, lame, and had declined treatment!! What?? How could this happen???

Rocky stayed with my vet until 7:00 that night, when I picked him up he was hydrated, happy and bouncing! A new dog. His joint had been flushed and injected with antibiotics, he’d had fluids and he’d had pain pills. His prognosis was guarded but good, very important to continue the antibiotics and a promise to return in the morning if he wasn’t remarkably better.

 I brought him home to my zoo, 8 dogs of many shapes and sizes, horses, chickens, a teenage daughter and an extremely loud husband. Rocky walked in, peed on my floor and introduced himself to all, just your average, happy Boxer puppy!! He ate a HUGE dinner and fell asleep in his crate.

Through this all, I stayed in touch with his breeder. She was very concerned about the puppy, his vet bill and the fact that his owner had lied. I seriously contemplated filing charges against the man.

 Rocky, now called Miles, improved by the hour. He never missed a meal or a treat. He played with all my dogs and ran around the grooming shop and greeted customers. We told his story to all! His friendliness and cheerful personality endeared him to everyone. He had two collar changes as he gained weight, his bones disappeared, and he barely limped anymore. He started to play with toys and bark!! This “not housebroken” puppy had one accident in my house.

I think Miles’ story needs to be told, because there are lessons to be learned from his sad experience. In the end, Miles had a soft landing and a place to go, thank God!! But how did such a nice puppy end up five states away from his breeder with such an uncaring owner?? 

Please breeders, there are Boxer people everywhere. Give your puppies a cushion, contact the local Boxer club and let them know one of yours is coming their way. Give the new owners the contacts. People will say what you want to hear over the phone, they’ll write what you want to see online. Boxer people help their own, take advantage of that!! Thank goodness for the SBL and Miles’ breeder’s plea for help, but how many more Miles’s are there?? How many slip through the cracks and wind up dead or in shelters? Please, please, breeders, take advantage of us, your fellow breeders, and contact us so puppies like Miles have a safe place to land and their new owners have people to contact in case of need.  Remember, this could have happened to any of us.  Miles is a well-bred puppy with a champion dam and a major pointed sire. Miles’ breeder did right by the puppy after he got into trouble, but the trouble might have been avoided in the first place if Miles’ new home had been checked out beforehand.

 We will all wonder about Miles until he completes his journey back to his breeder. The four of us were just one step, one leg on the journey of an incredibly tough and resilient puppy.  A journey that could have ended very differently…

Editor’s note:  Miles’ story is to be continued, because unfortunately, his breeder was in an auto accident on her way to pick Miles up. She was not injured, but her van was not drivable. We’ll keep you posted, but  in the meantime please keep both Miles and his breeder in your thoughts and prayers.