Pluperfect, Merrymoon
& Puddleduck
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Jon's Journal
23rd April, 2008

I had a lively and interesting discussion with fellow fanciers last evening which had the effect of my taking an introspective look at one of my dogs which I always find fascinating.  The particular topic at hand was our sable bitch puppy, Rika.  I will say I love this bitch in many ways: I believe she has an outstanding headpiece, I love her lay of shoulder and rare long upper arm of excellent return, I love her shape, her topline, her bone and substance, her temperament, her lovely dense coat, her strong rear drive and lovely sidegait.  Her "if" is her front in two particular aspects.  While I feel she has a neat but completely adequate crook of foreleg, her toes are forward facing rather than with the desired slight out-turn and her movement coming is a fraction too wide  to be considered ideal.  All dogs have faults - every single one of them.  I always try to focus on strength of virtue and in this she has an abundance.  From what I have seen there are no bitches in the ring nearly as beautiful.

Despite her obvious qualities does this shortcoming make her worthless? it "astute" to consider features we might call the sacred cows?  Cardigan people have campaigned long and hard to explain the ideal Cardigan front with slight out-turn of feet to judges.  Indeed, I hear many people say it is a key differentiator between Pems and Cardis.  But is it because the out-turned front is truly so critical or is it because we have been so long prejudiced by judges who automatically prefer a neater, forward pointing foot that we have made ourselves believe it's an intolerable fault?  I woke up this morning wondering if perhaps I should not even continue to show her.  This outstanding bitch with this unfortunate, politically incorrect fault.  Won't I be chastised for showing her, seemingly promoting this "atypical" front and therefore doing the breed untold harm?  Never mind this is by no means a soundness issue.  Never mind she otherwise has exquisite type features and a level of quality that exceeds everything she's ever come up against.  If she had a 10 degree of out-turn of her toes this discussion would never have occurred.  But because of it I reckon those judges who "know" a Cardigan front - because it's been hammered into them - will deny her and those who don't know any better will completely ignore it, probably not considering it a fault at all. 

This reflection teaches me we must never have sacred cows, we must always look for strength of virtue and weigh it against the dog's shortcomings.  I think in my mind of so many Cardigans with aggregious short-comings who are Group and BIS winners, who are national specialty winners but because Rika's toes don't point out slightly she will be deemed "atypical" by the majority of the Cardigan fancy and ridiculed as a bad bitch.  Many decades ago, Raymond Oppenheimer wrote how a bull terrrier with a mismark or a wrong mouth would never have appeared in public, so geared was the old bull terrier fancy to fault judge.  He proved through his incredible breeding program how very wrong that sort of thinking was - that sacred cows were a very bad theory.

It reminds me how Pluperfect began, how it continues and how it will always go on.  My "vision" has always been carefully manifested and I must always turn a deaf ear to the bulk of the fancy who have absolutely not a clue how to remove themselves from their perpetuidous rut of mediocrity.  I am free to question as I pursue perfection, but I realize I must never allow myself to compromise the theories I know to be correct just to appease the ignorant masses, however politically incorrect it may appear to others.

21st April, 2008

What promised to be a joyful year of showing is turning out to be a terribly sour pill.  Many years ago I wished for the day when the Cardigan would have a stable of breed specialists much like the bull terrier.  I dreamed of breed focus and improvement facilitated by good judgements made by knowledgeable people.  Our reality of today is something very different.  I have always been a hard task master on the Cardigan breed - I am fully aware of this.  I have been appalled by lack of breeder talent and worked many years and spilled many gallons of ink to participate in the educational experience.  I daresay as a result we still have extremely few breeders whom I would consider up to the task.  And this is a hard breed to be sure - just when you think you've got it all in a single package invariably something falls off the side.  I think there are very few dog breeders in the whole population who have truly experienced what we experience in our efforts to positively develop the breed.  Add to this whatever the attraction is for this breed to draw contrary and difficult people into it and you have pretty much the mix of the Cardigan fancy.

So what has happened, we observe, is that many of the untalented and marginally successful breeders became judges.  They are proving themselves to possess the same level of competance that they did as breeders.  I forever believed the answer was in education but I now know that education is the skill which must be predicated on talent and in that we sorely are diminished.  The education allows people to mouth the words but you cannot hide behind rhetoric when inside the ring.  The outcomes are terribly compromised. 

The depth of understanding, the depth of ability to appraise breeding stock seems to be so grotesquely base that people are unable to differentiate between outstanding quality and complete mediocrity.  Coming from our recent national specialty I saw some wonderful accomplishments made by skilled, talented and/or lucky breeders and they walked into the ring and out again, with only the very astute ringsiders left to appreciate them.  It is the nature of dog shows for people to focus their attention on the winners and to naively think they must be the best ones. 

We had a bit of discussion of this one evening in the hotel room and I expressed my complete astonishment of people who are unable to apply the breed standard to physical dog flesh.  The head is 3 parts muzzle to 5 parts backskull - you measure that with your fingers and if it's 3 to 5 then it's right and if it's anything different then it's wrong.  The skull is flat between the ears - if it's not flat then it's wrong.  The cheeks are to be flat and not bulgey, if they bulge it's wrong.  The eyes are to be soft and intelligent, medium to large with corners - anything else is wrong.  The muzzle should have a soft finish - a "bee sting" finish (meaning it has a soft swollen appearance as if stung by a bee) - this is quality.  The head must fit the proportion of the body - not too large nor too small.  Head planes, amount of stop, ear set and ear size and bite are all completely described by the standard.  My point is that this isn't a formula for a metaphysical reaction - it's simply applying what is written to the dog in question.  And yet, dogs who possess little virtue are awarded top awards and dogs have merit are ignored.  It's not personal opinion, it's simply failing to apply the specifications clearly described in the standard.  And that is bad judging and should be deplored.  It is by me even if a seemingly majority of our "specialists" think otherwise.

5th January, 2008

Whenever I feel I have it all understood something always comes along to shake me up.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday I happened to visit a Manchester Terrier breeder becasue she had advertised a specials quality young bitch.  I have managed my whole life not to have a cropped or docked breed (except a Pem) that I intended to breed.  But I do very much like this breed and so decided to check her out.  As fate would have it, she happened to have a young 7-week old litter as well and I found a dog puppy in that litter I preferred to the bitch.  I thought in my mind, surely I can just tape these ears up and they will stand erect.  By the time the puppy was 12 weeks I was feeling sheepish as the breeder felt he wouldn't win as well with natural ears  and I didn't want to embarrass her or disappoint her.  So I decided to go ahead with the cropping procedure although I feel it is barbaric.  What's even more interesting for me - besides the fact I apparently feel the ear cropping is not as bad as annoying his breeder - is that despite my diligent taping of his ears for 5 weeks they are absolutely no closer to standing then they were at 7 weeks!  They stand beautifully until he goes to bed and then they wilt just like petals of a flower!

What I realized in all my research on ears and ear cropping, is that it is used as a substitute for correct ears.  In Boston Terriers ears are cropped if they do not look good natural.  So, in effect, the fault is removed through acceptable surgical intervention.  This is perfectly "within the rules" for that breed because it allows cropped ears.  Why do I get so upset with a fancy that "fixes" things when some standards absolutely allow it?  And, as I stated before, some breed fancies totally ignore imperfections of a certain kind.  The Poodle standard, for instance, says this about the tail, "Major fault: set low, curled, or carried over the back," and this about the forehand, "Major fault: steep shoulder," and this about feet, " Major fault: paper or splay foot," and this about movement, "Sound effortless movement is essential."  I don't know if I've EVER seen a BIS winning Poodle who didn't have at least one of those faults if not all four.  But in Poodles, those major faults are overlooked.  It's the breed culture.  I used to think people simply didn't recognize these short-comings in Poodles when the reality must be they recognize them but dismiss them. 

The dog fancy is a fascinating microcosm of humanity - where we make situational judgements which are not and cannot be universal truths applied to the whole of the population.  It is my highly logical mind which so often puts me on the "outside looking in."  At times it serves me well, at others it creates barriers which other people do not even realize exist.

22nd October, 2007

In my never ever ending search for my perfect breed which doesn't include bull terriers or Pekingese (my passions), I have contacted various breeders at one time or another, always to find the breed of the moment lacking in some criterion I have established.  I find the more you know about various dog breeds the less you are going to like them.  Nearly everything either is hard to whelp, hard to raise or involves docking, cropping or some kind of faking for the ring.  I've held onto my ethics so tightly and so dearly that I have become almost paralyzed.  So many breeds today are faked for the ring - terriers are colored, poodles dyed, terriers tails fixed or ears fixed, hounds colored.  I sometimes wonder if I should just give up the ghost and realize all this fakery is stage makeup and let it go.  One breeder suggested perhaps I wanted a "natural" breed, as though that is a class of purebreds separate and apart from the "unnatural" breeds.  The American kennel Club does not enforce or wish to enforce this making up of dogs for the showring - why should I fall on my sword when it has absolutely no intention of doing so? 

This line of thinking always brings me back to standards and how selectively fancies follow them.   In some breeds they want you to follow them to the letter - in others you would be a total failure if you did so.   Imagine judging the Cocker Spaniel so that the coat was faulted for being excessive?  Imagine having little tolerance for the Bulldog which has to be hand-bred, hand-whelped and babied throughout his entire short life?  Recent genetic studies (recent to me although published in 2004) indicate most dog breeds truly were not distinct until dog shows were devised and that some "ancient" breeds such as the Pharoah and Ibizan are actually recent breeds.  It makes me realize our preservation of ancient artifactual breeds are really nothing more than man's folly in keeping himself occupied until he dies.  Perhaps it is all no more serious than that and I need to simply let go.

6th September, 2007

There is a patch in the front yard which struck me as a batch of weeds.  I asked my mother about it, just in case it might be something more before making a decision about whether I should pull the plants up from the ground.  "No," she said, "those are flowers.  There just haven't been any bees."  I thought it a strange comment, but didn't think too much of it since bee watching is not one of my interests.  Today I read that a virus has been found which is massively impacting the bee population.  To me it's just one more factoid that indicates this planet has a very definite end and it is in sight.  It seems the negative energy is just engulfing this planet. 

I read today Whoopi Goldberg defended Vick's dog fighting interests because either southerners or African Americans have "a different relationship with dogs and cats."   That is about the most racist thing I've heard in a long time.  In fact, only society's currently acceptable  racist comments about gay people  equals that degree of vomitude.  I am sure most murderers are nice people on the inside, too, Ms. Goldberg.

In a dog paper an article by some supposed "journalist" was reprinted which went on the rag about PETA.  To the dog fancy, I guess this was some big find.  I call it shameless plagarism of Wikipedia.  If you've never bothered to look up PETA on Wikipedia how serious are you about finding out about this organization?  I don't defend PETA but I also very much resent having my ideology dictated to me.  Anything "animal rightist" is baaaaad.  I breed dogs because I love dogs and I love animals and I want society to be kinder and more responsible with everything regarding animals.  Does the dog fancy work as diligently as many of these animal right's  groups to ensure this occurs?  Nope.  Never.  Too busy spending $100K campaigning the latest special.  The acrimonious writer took aim at PETA for its stance on animal testing.  Guess what?  I am not for animal testing either!

The European movement to stop tail docking has shaken American dog breeders to their boots.  The Rottweiler club took out full page ads chastising judges who put up "natural" tailed dogs.  The arguments vascilated between "You can't make us stop docking because we live in a free country!" and "You're un-American if you don't dock tails."  I think there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a group of people who campaign to ensure everyone is forced to amputate the tails of the dogs they supposedly "love."  Wouldn't you get just a bit queasy writing a check for such an ad?

It seems anything that the "animal rightists" support dog breeders have to automatically challenge.   It's a shallow and  irresponsible stance, but isn't that really what America has come to represent,  anyway?  Isn't it all about winning the debate, even if the "facts" aren't actually facts but twisted snippets of fact?  Doesn't our own AKC now promote commercial dog breeding because the registration fees will help it meet it's expenses?  Don't we justify this position by saying our end goal (of fighting the animal rightists) justifies supporting pet shops?

I think the following storyline speaks volumes to me about the complete dearth of integrity or honor in our country.  The following excerpt is from the Washington Post and describes how the "Bushies" pressured the Human Health and Services Department to not advertise that mother's breast-milk is critical to infant health and resistence to disease.  It  was done for the sole purpose of ensuring the forumula makers didn't experience an impact to their sales volume.  It beautifully illustrates how the self-righteous, "pro-life", "family values,"  "moral" Republicans  willingly and intentionally disregard public health and safety for the mighty buck.  I do not know how our country ever embraced these evil concepts but many reading this will undoubtedly manufacture, for their own peace of mind, some plausible excuse, whether it be twisting the facts, disparaging the source or challenging the interpretation.  It causes me never ending sadness.......

“In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

“Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

“The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.
27th August, 2007

My trip to Canada was delightful - weather nice and warm (for a change!).  The Hunter-Stevie puppies were splendid and proved what a great match certain of our bitches are for the prodigious Firestorm.  I brought home a little sable character calling her "Poprika" for her paprika coloring and "Pop" dam line naming scheme.  They were just barely 8 weeks but quality abounds.  The depth of quality was such we could let several otherwise beautiful puppies go to pet homes due to their coats.  We let one good-coated and quite typey bitch puppy go to a pet home who appears to have less than ideal front movement while we are retaining two extremely promising but coated bitches; our commitment to the highest quality is never subjugated to the presence of superficial faults!  In this we are virtually alone in the Cardigan breed and probably a very rare bird in the purebred dog fancy at large.  This lonely trek that Barb and I take is why we decided not to stand our "show" males at public stud.  While I have no interest in hoarding top quality I have a strong sense of justice.  It was therefore our decision to allow earnest breeders to use the same coated dogs we use, but to restrict from public use the fruits of our labors when absolutely no one is willing to share in the risks and heavy lifting that we must do and have done to get where we are in our breeding program.  To allow the fair-thee-well breeders to come and scoop the pool did not strike me as justice!

Brett finished in excellent fashion under Rev Dr Patrick Ormos at our first regional Three Trails Cardigan Welsh Corgi club specialty.  It was truly an honor to be asked by Dr Ormos to put Brett on the table while he lectured the crowd about correct Cardigan type.  I was terribly amused to realize some of the most unpleasant local breeders had the good taste not to support the show which is undoubtedly why it was such a pleasant affair!

Last weekend I was called into service to help Jim drive to California and it was quite interesting to view the geography from Kansas City to California.  I found the Flagstaff, Arizona area exquisite and saw a tremendous elk with a full rack of horns!  For me the exciting part of the trip was our very quick stop in Phoenix to view Brett's brother, Happy.  At 10 months he is growing into a super lovely dog, with exquisite type and elegance. 

23rd July, 2007

First of all, great happiness as Stevie whelped 9 puppies and all lived!  Barb and Ruth have their hands full I am most certain!  We were delighted to test and find out 4 of the 9 have good coats - more the statistical average one expects from a simple recessive.  I am most anxious to make it up to Canada in mid-August to reveiw the litter. 

I spend an inordinate amount of time researching breeds - always looking for that "one" breed that I feel would make me so very fulfilled.  Why, you might ask, is not the Cardigan the "one" breed?  Because, for someone like me who has such depth of passion for dogs, I have always felt the Cardigan fancy is...well...lacking.  In keen breeds, such as Pembrokes, bull terriers (which, by the way, I never capitalize),  or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels the fancy is so completely engrossed in their breeds.  They hold specialty shows with real breed specialists judging, they want written critiques, they know the really good dogs in the breed and treat them respectfully.  Cardigans might be inching that way but they are far from it.  In those breeds, people talk intelligently about dogs, they talk about breeding, they recognize the difference between mediocrity and excellence.  And they are good sports and gentlemen and women.  The Cardi fancy is still very "all breedy" which to me is a very flat existence.   We have a few keen people and I think I probably count them as my friends - we have many more who do not and I suspect will never get a clue.   In bull terriers, the spirit is such that you feel like you've really done something magnificent when you get a good one - it's celebrated in the breed and it just makes you feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your life.  You are an artist who has created a beautiful piece of artwork and your peers are artists who have the knowledge, the training and the security to celebrate your art with you.  Ah, but to dream!

And not to get too political, but my goodness I just heard something like over 60% of Republicans still think Bush is a good President!  Ha ha!  I used to just itch for an intelligence test between Democrats and Republicans (although I consider myself an Independent since I think both parties suck) - I think we can safely say at this point no test required!  The facts are self-evident!  What amuses me endlessly is that I know a majority of dog breeders are Republicans!

21st June, 2007

I don't know why but I have been preoccupied with my philosophy of "honesty" in the presentation of show dogs.  I suppose it comes from the almost daily disgust I feel for mankind as I must face each day listening to some evil doing of President Bush or one of his minions.  His expressed "sympathy" for Scooter Libby's family because the poor crook got caught has got to be unprecedented in his unprecedented assault on basic human decency and the role of society's laws.  I just now finished watching a program on the plight of gay people since the sixties and I will never understand how human beings could turn their backs on fellow human beings as AIDS killed and kills hundreds of thousands.  This chapter in world events absolutely sickens me and the people who said gay people "deserved" this sickness could not beg God's forgiveness every day for a thousand years and still deserve his light.  That people would rather listen to godless so called preachers speak about their views on God's children rather than to sit quietly and listen to their own hearts - to not trust that God would speak to them directly - really puts my head into a spin.  I wonder, are these the same geniuses who sport the American flag sticker on the back of their gas guzzling Hummers?  Hmmmmm. 

Mmm'kay, Jon, thanks so much.  And this has to do with honesty in the ring because...?  Well, because it all speaks to values; the values our souls understand.  In my lifetime values have diminished profoundly as we increasingly worship the superficial and the meaningless and the aura of total nothingness.  A society who would rather read the latest tabloid headline about a deceased drugged up former waitress with a ridiculous boob job, or that skinny Hollywood white girl with no apparent talent, skill or redeeming qualities or the latest idiotic reality show than anything at all having to do with our self-imploding planet.  I think to myself the fanciers who view themselves as "sophisticated" and feel so secure in their theory that if you don't succumb to "enhancing" a dog as warranted you are simply a fool.   My life and efforts are geared toward this never ending challenge of breeding exceptional dogs and I truly take exception to such a mindset.  Who among us have not had the outstanding dog who was mismarked or coated or had a wrong bite or was oversized or a monorchid or carried their tail wrong or who wouldn't show well?   There is only this difference between those who fake and the rest of us: integrity and values.  To them I say, "Stand a bit less between me and the sun."

On a less prognosticatorial note, Stevie had her babies yesterday!  I think she is a great bitch (but coated, see above...) and Hunter a great stud dog.  Delicious!

2nd June, 2007

This year's CWCCA national specialty was a spectacular one for us as our little 6 1/2 month old dog puppy, Brett, made a smashing ring debut.  His first ring experience brought him Best of Opposite Sex in Sweepstakes whilst his regular class triumphs included Winners Dog and onto Best of Winners and thereby also winning Best Puppy.   This is not the first time the kennel has had national specialty winners  as puppies, such as  Pegasus, Peace Rose, and Primate sweeping the national at 12 1/2 months old in 1986, and Peer winning the Sweepstakes and WD and BW at 8 months (his sister winning BOS Sweeps and WB) in 1987, and Prussian going Best Opposite Sex in Sweepstakes at 6 1/2 months in 1988, but Brett is the youngest winner of the points our dogs have garnered at the national. 

Personally, my pleasure was doubled indeed as my recently imported English Ch Morgan brought home the Reserve Winners Dog award.  Morgan made a brilliant ring debut himself a week earlier gaining two group placements his first two times in the American ring.   Morgan is, in my opinion, a fabulous breeding triumph for his breeder, Fran Fricker, in that he combines the wonderfully elegant and scopey body lines of the Joseter bloodline with the exquisitely beautiful headpieces of Miss Maddox's Salvenik program.  Both Jacque and Don seem to love Morgan's special sweetness and I was delighted when they wanted to co-own him.

I am most anxious for Stevie's impending litter due the end of June.  It really was her dam, Poppy, that truly got me to believe this breed could be bred to a level of quality comparable to that which we see in such breeds as the best Pembrokes or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (who I contend have the greatest quality of any purebred dog breed).  I did see evidence of this unique quality in her paternal granddam, Barb's homebred  national specialty and Megan winning Devil Woman, and her son (Poppy's sire), Jacob, but Poppy combines great type and great quality all in one and I feel only the legendary Luca could have troubled her in the ring had her coat been suitable enough for the fault-finders who constantly are the drag to the few of us who take breed development seriously. (I'm really trying not to criticize but I can't help it!)  Both Luca and Poppy had fabulous breed type, Luca would have bested Poppy in rear action, Poppy would have countered with much more advanced head type.  It was an unfortunate fate that Poppy had to be spayed after her only litter but it is the reason why we kept our hands on five of the seven puppies - despite the fact the whole litter was coated!  Yes, Mother Nature tried to have the last laugh but we looked her square in the eye and said, "Oh, you'll have to do better than that, my dear!"

Barb also bred her sable bitch Vayda to Stevie's brother, Prince, so we'll have much to look at by early fall.  I am certainly hopeful  where Brett is concerned there will be many more from where he came!

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