I don’t think it’s really a stretch to say that dog show culture brings out the worst in people. Notions of racial supremacy, blood purity, twisted eugenics, incest, form over function, and unattainable (and strangely changing… I mean, how can perfect change so often?) platonic ideals are de rigueur in the Fancy. Heck, the whole institution is set up to make people compete to out-do each other in these dubious qualities.
There is little consistency between the values the Fancy upholds for dogs and the values we now treat as normative for human behavior. Dog culture isn’t just a century out of date in this respect, they’ve enshrined extreme positions that were never palatable in any mainstream culture. They’ve taken cultural ideas that we have since discarded to the trash heap of history and distilled them, concentrating the malignancy and boldly declaring it perfection.
That’s why I laugh when show types get mad when people stereotype them for being too much person in too little polyester waddling around in hideous shoes (you know, because trotting around in a ring is so strenuous that it requires special–hideous–footwear). Or for getting offended when people point out that they’re working out their own procreation issues through overzealous micromanaging of their dogs’ sex lives. You can’t prove the stereotype and then have a pro forma tantrum that it’s unfair. Your entire hobby involves the stereotyping of dogs based upon the most shallow of criteria and then using the most crude of breeding methods to supposedly improve upon some strange ideal, and there’s no denying that this activity draws a very particular crowd of people that share a number of social hangups. Either embrace it because it’s true or change if you can’t stomach the consequences. I think it’s either an incoherent double standard, severe mental compartmentalization, or rather blatant hypocrisy.
That’s why I’m not going to stand up and salute the recent AKC publicity stunt where they sent an “open letter” to FCI President asking to punish Russia for their anti-gay rhetoric and legislation by moving the location of the 2016 World Dog Show:
July 26, 2012
Mr. Rafael de Santiago
c/o Federacion Canofila de Puerto Rico
P.O. Box 13968
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00908-3968
One of the most compelling aspects of the human-canine bond – cherished internationally more than ever before – is the fact that our dogs love us unconditionally. Dogs do not discriminate. Gender, race, sexual orientation and other status do not enter the equation of responsible pet ownership. That is why the American Kennel Club and our constituency are puzzled and disappointed by the decision to allow Russia to host the 2016 World Dog Show. The proliferation of anti-gay and lesbian laws in Russia today is both disturbing and shocking to our community. The choice of this country as a venue for such a prestigious dog show flies in the face of the ideals of the human-canine bond.
On behalf of the American Kennel Club, our member clubs, and the American purebred dog fancy, we urge you to move the 2016 World Dog Show from Russia to a nation that respects and upholds human rights for all its citizens. The international dog community deserves to enjoy the World Dog Show in a place that stands for freedom and equal rights for all. AKC cannot and will not support participation in the 2016 World Dog Show if it is held in Russia.
As exhibitors, breeders, handlers and trainers, we teach our dogs many things. But there is no denying, they teach us too. Our bond with dogs is not defined by the type of person who holds the leash. We cannot support competition in an environment where tolerance does not exist.
Alan T. Kalter
Chairman of the Board
Dennis B. Sprung
President and CEO
Let’s get one thing straight, this open letter is nothing more than a publicity stunt by a diminished organization looking for any good press it can engender by hopping on the recent attention paid to other groups calling for the boycott of Russia over their anti-gay policies (such as gay bars no longer serving Russian vodkas and calls for the US to withdraw from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia).
Think about it. What pull does the AKC or the FCI have in any matters regarding gay rights? NONE. Especially in RUSSIA! They aren’t even on the radar and they never will be. Their open letter will accomplish nothing regarding gay marriage or any homosexual legislative or cultural agenda and Kalter and Sprung know this. This is pandering to a significant portion of their membership (there are plenty of gays involved in the dog fancy) and a painfully obvious ploy to grub a little good will from outside their membership (pro-gay issues are significantly supported by the younger generation, the AKC’s customers of tomorrow).
You should be disgusted at how pathetic this stunt is, not supportive of the manipulation, no matter how much you might agree with the message. The message was designed to be agreeable, but the AKC’s actual policies are anything but and they’re certainly NOT changing their actions just spouting out pretty words.
Let’s look at how well the supposed values the AKC Chairman and President/CEO espouse in the letter match with the fundamental tenants of their organization.
One of the most compelling aspects of the human-canine bond – cherished internationally more than ever before – is the fact that our dogs love us unconditionally.
The AKC does not love dogs unconditionally, nor do they support their membership in this. The AKC only loves purebreds, especially the ones that are trotted around rings being given love based upon the most shallow of attributes. Now that they’re hemorrhaging membership they’ve let some mongrels in the building but only if they’re desexed so as to not spread their filth.
Dogs do not discriminate.
The central purpose of the AKC is to discriminate.
Gender, race, sexual orientation and other status do not enter the equation of responsible pet ownership.
Gender, breed, and sexual reproduction are THE ENTIRE equation of responsible pet breeding. And the AKC is really about breeding, not ownership, no?
flies in the face of the ideals of the human-canine bond.
And what ideals are these? Breed purity. Generations of incestuous breeding. Placing skin deep beauty over temperament, health, and ability. Glorification of dysfunction and freakish abnormalities. There is very little IDEAL about the human-canine bond promoted by the AKC.
respects and upholds human rights for all its citizens
What about dog rights? Heck, what about respecting BASIC standards of care? The AKC doesn’t promote any of this at its core, rather it heavily supports the opposite. Not only do they fight against the Animal Rights movement (which you’ll find little support from me) but they also undeniably promote a culture and behavior that produces highly immoral and unjustifiable treatment of animals that provokes the wrath of the AR movement. While I will likely never agree with the AR agenda, that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the evils they think their draconian laws will fix. The AKC won’t even stand up for very simple moral guidelines that would vastly improve the actual health and well being of purebred dogs.
freedom and equal rights for all
Wait, freedom and equal rights? WTF. The AKC thinks that two men can mate all they want but the second you mate a Pug to a Beagle you need to get the fuck out of our registry? Lesbians are great! Labradoodles are an ABOMINATION. How can an organization have any credibility saying that it’s perfectly moral for an interracial couple to raise an adopted child but they won’t ever condone two dogs of different breeds forming a family for any reason at all and we won’t even acknowledge that you exist until you cut out your sex organs, and even then you can be in your own special class over there in the corner as long as you pay your entry fees. This drinking fountain is for purebreds only.
Our bond with dogs is not defined by the type of person who holds the leash. We cannot support competition in an environment where tolerance does not exist.
No, it’s defined by the type of dog at the other end and there’s no tolerance for inferior mud blood dogs. The value of that dog to the AKC is as corrupt, decadent, racist, classist, and biologically elitist as anything we saw come out of the segregated South, Nazi Germany, Indian castes, Aboriginal policy in Australia, sterilizations in Canada, Branqueamento in Brazil, any of several xenophobic institutions in Japan’s history, or the ongoing racial genocides in Africa.
Open letters are a sure sign of slacktivism and attention whoring and you shouldn’t fall for the AKC’s attempt to garner good-will with this recent attempt. It’s all words and NO ACTIONS, thus no consequences and no real change. It’s advertising and branding instead of research and development of a better product. If you applaud the AKC for this letter you’re saying that they have enlightened views on this subject. Well how can they when their actions and treatment of dogs is so antithetical to their apparent beliefs about gays. The AKC’s thoughts about gays matter almost nothing whereas their thoughts and actions towards dogs matter a great deal.
Don’t be fooled. They are hypocrites and we should not salute such blatant and manipulative hypocrisy.
* * *
Comments and disagreements are welcome, but be sure to read the Comment Policy. If this post made you think and you'd like to read more like it, consider a donation to my 4 Border Collies' Treat and Toy Fund. They'll be glad you did. You can subscribe to the feed or enter your e-mail in the field on the left to receive notice of new content. You can also like BorderWars on Facebook for more frequent musings and curiosities.
* * *