Friday, September 30, 2011

How Good Were the Good Old Days?

The Nostalgia Effect

Were the top winning boxers of the past really better, sounder, typier than their present-day counterparts? Were the leading stud dogs of yesteryear more prepotent, more prolific, more consistent than the popular sires of today? Those questions have been running through my mind ever since I participated in a discussion that took place on the Showboxer List a couple of weeks ago. Some list members (the majority) argued that the Golden Age of Boxers was long past, while a few of us (definitely the minority) argued that the breed was, on the whole, in better shape today than it was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.

At the time, I accused the proponents of the good-old-days theory of looking at the “greats” of the past through rose-colored glasses. On reflection, however, I believe it’s not so much selective memory as it is nostalgia – “A sentimental longing for the past…for a period or place with happy personal associations” – that affects most longtime breeders’ feelings about what was, and what is, a truly great boxer.

For example: I will never forget the thrill of watching Ch Scher-Khoun’s Shadrack take the breed at the first ABC my ex and I attended in 1972. What a magnificent dog! What a fabulous temperament! We had already made up our minds that we wanted to begin our breeding program with a Shadrack daughter, and meeting Shadrack “in person” after the show just clinched it for us. 

What’s more, to my mind there will never be a more strikingly beautiful bitch than Ch Scher-Khoun’s Tarantella, our stunning black brindle foundation bitch. And Tara wasn’t just beautiful: she produced an ABC Sire and Dam of Merit in her first litter; a multi-Group winning bitch in her second litter; and put our neophyte kennel on the map. Tara was also my introduction to the thrill of owner-handling, winning numerous BOB’s with this unknown novice handler on the lead, several of them over professionally handled BIS dogs.

Oops!  Sorry. I still get carried away when I start talking about MY good old days. But actually, that’s my point: when we started out in boxers 38 years ago, we were young and wildly enthusiastic; the show ring provided a brand new world of infinite possibilities; and the dogs and bitches that formed our early impression of the “ideal” boxer will forever remain fixed in our hearts and minds as the greats of the breed. I suspect that many longtime boxer fanciers feel exactly the same way.

So just how good are the good new days? Well, for starters, temperament, on the whole, is much better now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Yes, there are still shy dogs in the ring today; and there are still skillful handlers who can inspire enough confidence in their mentally unsound charges to get them through to a championship, and in some cases, even to a specials career.  But shyness is by no means as widespread and severe as it was many years ago, when I watched one “famous” special shrink away from the judge on exam, go around the ring with his tail tucked between his legs every step of the way, get behind his handler when he approached the judge on the down and back, and still go BOB and later on, Group I!  

Conformation is better these days, too. Yes, there are still poor toplines, bad feet, straight shoulders and untypical heads to be seen, sometimes more than occasionally depending on which fault or faults are lurking in the genotype of the stud dog of the hour; also depending on whether the breeders of the day breed his sons and daughters and cousins and nieces and nephews to one another. But with our heightened awareness of the dangers of inbreeding, which serves to double up on recessive faults and health problems, I think fewer breeders are doing the intense inbreeding that was the order of the day 25 years ago. And I believe that overall, today’s breeders are producing more pretty-good dogs and far fewer blatantly awful ones. Or at least, the truly dreadful ones don’t often make it into the ring.J As to the great dogs, I think they come along only once or twice in a generation; and I think that’s always been the case.

Finally, has there been an improvement in breed health?  With only a few caveats, I think boxer health has improved tremendously since the founding of the ABCF in 1995. No, we don’t yet have a treatment for DM or a surefire test for ARVC; and we’re still arguing about what constitutes an acceptable aortic flow rate for an SAS clearance. But we are talking openly about those issues and trying to find solutions; most breeders take Holter results very seriously; and almost everyone clears their dogs and bitches of SAS before breeding. As for hips, it’s been years since I saw a promising puppy enter the ring, limp on the go-round, be excused…and disappear, never be seen again.

Speaking as a breeder who has seen a number of outstanding boxers in my lifetime and expects to see a few more at the Regional in a couple of weeks, I am firmly convinced that these are The New Improved Days.  I can only hope they will keep getting better.


Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. - Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Move to the Middle or Rove, Part III: A Few Words from the Far West

by Karla Spitzer
Somis, California

 One thing that has not been mentioned, that I can recall, in this on-going discussion about what to do about the ABC National – where to move, whether to move, whether to rove – is 'sportsmanship.'  

Question:  is it sporting to make the ABC members of the central and western half of the US drive to within a couple of hundred miles of the east coast each and every year for the National?  If you've ever driven it (especially from the far west), you know that the trip is hugely challenging.  

Add dogs (usually Boxers) and an RV (usually, if you're driving), and if you're not going east across the far northern tier (the long way to KY), you're going through the Rockies (tough AND slow), or you will be spending 2 - 3 days going through the great American desert (usually hot, windy, truck-filled and, therefore, somewhat dangerous), only to emerge into Tornado Alley in northern Texas and Oklahoma for about 2 more days. This is the usual scenario unless, of course, you have people who can drive around the clock; but some of us are human and can't physically do that.  The only good news about this marathon drive is that gas generally gets cheaper as one drives east.  If you want a chance for a genuine character building opportunity, well, drive for several days with multiple Boxers at the time of the year when the desert tends to heat up and blow hot and dusty and the tornadoes tend to form and whirl.  Good times.  All should share in this. And for some, this drive is the only opportunity to attend the ABC National because some airports in the SW will not fly dogs after May 1 – too hot.  And, of course, more airlines are not flying dogs at all, so that might put everyone into 'drive mode.'  Of course, moving the date of the National to a few weeks earlier would help, if the event isn’t going to be moved.  May is a potentially bad time of the year for driving through the desert and the beginning of tornado season in Tornado Alley.

The AKC (to whom we must bow) is all about sportsmanship...NO ONE likes to be inconvenienced, but wouldn't it be more sporting if there were equal opportunity inconveniences in attending the ABC for all members at some times rather than big inconveniences for just some members all the time?

As for putting on the shows, there are talented and dedicated people all across the country who are show chairs and on show committees who work hard for dog sports in Boxer clubs and all-breed clubs.  So, why not do a centrally located national with roving regionals just like now?  At least that way, there would be at least one ABC specialty within a few days' driving time of all in the continental US, unlike now, when there is none for the west coast when the National is in Fort Mitchell and the Regionals are on the east coast.  That seems to be as unsporting as it can get, and it has happened three to four times in the last seven years.  As for the worry that the job will not be done to the current standard, have a little faith and patience (and sportsmanship!!). Boxer lovers in other parts of the country are as capable or incapable as you are....:-).  

I think that what is missing in this on-going discussion is a genuine compassion for others’ points of view.  For instance, compassion about how difficult it can be to get there from the west.  Driving east of the Missouri, with the exception of tornado season, is a piece of cake compared to crossing the desert in many months, including May.  The other missing element is good, old-fashioned sportsmanship.  We've all heard all the arguments about how if the ABC moves, people in some parts of the country will not be able to attend.  Well, that issue exists right now. Let's play fair (the essence of sportsmanship) and spread the opportunity to attend our National around a little more.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Boxer Club By-laws… But Didn’t Know Whom to Ask :-)

by Virginia Zurflieh
ABC By-laws Committee

A slightly different version of this article will appear in the next issue of the ABC Bulletin (Kudos to Editor Jeff Phillips on a *super* new ABC newsletter!) In the meantime, though, I continue to receive an average of one inquiry every few weeks from a Boxer club member who’s been tasked with updating his/her club’s by-laws, and needs help right away in order to meet a club deadline. Although I’ve been helping ABC member clubs update their by-laws for three years now, I’m far from being an expert; and I realize that many Boxer clubs are unique and have different reasons for needing to amend their by-laws. Even so, there are several issues that come up over and over again, so for those local Boxer club members who need to change their club by-laws to accommodate the changing times, but are not yet ABC members and don’t get their own copy of the Bulletin, I’d like to share the most common by-laws problems with you here. (There will NOT be a quiz! J)

  1. The AKC rules! I mean that literally:  Although the AKC stopped pre-approving local club by-laws in 2009, the AKC Club Relations Dept still has the last word on any provision you want to incorporate into your club’s by-laws. The ABC Board can’t approve anything the AKC won’t approve.
  2.  K.I.S.S. is the watchword!  By-laws are supposed to be general guidelines for how your club is to be run. They can’t possibly cover every situation or contingency that might arise. If something out of the ordinary does come up, consult the ABC. This link to the AKC’s sample by-laws for specialty clubs will give you a good idea of how to organize your club’s by-laws and which provisions to include:  
  3. The two most common problems clubs encounter these days are meeting a quorum and communicating with their membership. Your club will surely want to communicate with members via email (meeting & dues notices, newsletters, etc, but NOT voting) and may want to hold board meetings (ONLY board meetings) via teleconference or video conference. (Your board can’t vote via email, either!) Provisions to use electronic communications must be included in your by-laws, and your members must agree to them. Your secretary can’t just decide one day to start sending notices via email. The following is a link to the AKC’s new policies on electronic communication:
  4. Meeting a quorum is a more difficult issue. The quorum for your general membership meetings (NOT your board meetings) must be 20% of your VOTING membership, per the AKC. That means that if your club has a number of full voting members who don’t regularly attend meetings for whatever reason, you’re going to have a problem making a quorum and won’t be able to vote on necessary club business.  Many clubs have solved that problem by adopting an “associate” membership category. Associate members are usually entitled to all the privileges of full membership (Futurity nomination, for example), except voting and holding office. Therefore, associate members do NOT contribute to your meeting quorum. Just keep in mind that you cannot arbitrarily change full memberships to associate memberships retroactively. You have to offer your members who don’t attend meetings that option when they pay their yearly dues. Some clubs offer discounted dues for an associate membership.
 Finally, remember that club by-laws are only meant to define the purpose and goals of the club and give the club an organized structure that will allow its members to fulfill that purpose and achieve those goals. If your membership is in strong disagreement with one another about the mission and goals of the club, changing your by-laws is probably not going to change hearts and minds or resolve personality clashes. 

And there you have it!  Revising club by-laws can be a tedious and time-consuming job, but it doesn’t need to be painful and frustrating, too. Questions? Just drop me a line at  Now…Ready, Set, Revise!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Belated Tribute to Louie, THE 9/11 Search and Rescue Boxer

When Kate Schoyer, Louie’s breeder, posted a tribute to Louie and his owner, Michelle Verdell, on the SB-L, I was immediately struck by two things: First, that Louie was the only Boxer that had participated in the Search & Rescue effort at the World Trade Center after 9/11; and second, that Louie’s breeder attributed his working ability to several generations of cattle herding Boxers in his background. This is how Kate put it in a subsequent email: “I think my short story puts across the fact that Louie had a few generations of working dogs on his sire’s side of his pedigree that probably enhanced his ability to grasp the S&R work so well. He was the first dog Michele had trained for S&R, too. She had told me she was just going to do obedience with him. An S&R dog needs to be able to think, have a good prey drive and posses a stable, unflappable temperament.”

As a strong supporter of giving our breed the opportunity to compete for titles in AKC Herding Trials, this blogger wants to thank the overwhelming majority of ABC members and member-club members who responded so enthusiastically to the ABC Herding Survey that was sent to all ABC members and member clubs; and to the progressive ABC Board members who voted in May to send a Boxer Herding Petition to the AKC!

Louie, the 9/11 SAR Boxer
By Kate Schoyer

I was the breeder of “Louie,” whom I sold to Michele Verdell of PA when he was about nine months old. Louie's original name was Ivan and he had working dogs from Austria two and three generations back on his sire’s side. His grandsire was a lovely dog named Danny, bred by Billie McFadden of Flemington, NJ.

Danny was a Famous Amos son who was then bred to a very nice working cattle herding Boxer named Eliza who lived near Billie. I purchased Louie's sire Trump through Billie from her veterinarian, Oliver Elbert DVM, who owned Eliza. Eliza's sire Boris and dam Maude were imported from Austria by Billie's friend and her vet's mother Shirley Elbert. They were also working Boxers used for herding.   So Louie did have some true working dogs behind him on one side and his mother, whom I owned, was a very sweet couch potato with 7 AKC points. I did have an obedience title on Louie's sire Trump and also had worked him in protection training.  I must say out of the many male Boxers I have owned, Trump was very intelligent.

I was fortunate to get Louie featured on the front cover of the Boxer Review with the help of the editor Kathy Cognata. I called Michele a few times to finish her article so Billie McFadden could proof read it, then I sent it to Kathy to be published.  Michele did a great job conveying facts and emotions into what she and Louie had experienced after 9/ll while searching for DNA samples of the victims at Ground Zero. We had many requests from other counties for reprints of Louie's photos and the articles about his Search & Rescue experiences.

Louie was a sweet lovely Boxer.  I never dreamed my little lovable black reverse brindle boy would be such a star after being trained by Michele for Search and Rescue.

I think Boxer people were very proud of the fact Louie was a Search and Rescue dog during 9/ll. I know I sure was when Michele called me and said she was going to NYC with Louie to help. It was such an emotional time for every one of us in the USA and in every country around the world who felt our pain, too.


Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. - Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986) 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Move to the Middle or Rove? Part II

You’ve all heard the old saw – There are lies, damn lies and statistics: the geographic center of the lower 48 states is just outside of Lebanon, Kansas, 158 miles NW of Topeka. The demographic center of the US for the ABC membership is Valmeyer, Illinois, which is 375 miles west of the current ABC show site in Ft Mitchell, KY and 265 miles west of Indianapolis, IN, to which the ABC will probably move in 2013. The Wyndham Hotel West in Indianapolis looks to be eminently suitable as an ABC show site, but even if you believe membership demographics should be the determiner of the “center,” it’s still nearly 300 miles east of the demographic center. (See the summer 2011 issue of the ABC Bulletin for the Demographics and Show Site Committee reports.)

So 13 years after the ABC membership voted 2 to 1 to move to the center of the country, we’re still not there – by any definition – and that situation has created a lot of bitterness on the part of a large portion of the membership, and defensiveness on the part of another large portion.  I should know: I just got into a huge argument with a very dear friend who holds an opposing viewpoint on this subject, and I should have known better. It’s gotten to the point where moving the ABC has joined politics and religion as subjects that one simply does not bring up among friends who are of a different opinion, one way or the other.

And I’ve got to tell you, it’s really hard for me to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for a brand new battle when the first battle hasn’t been won yet. I’m sure the same arguments that have been used against a move to the middle for the last 13 years will be used against the idea of a roving national, even if roving is an idea whose time has come. And in the meantime, the ABC is still stuck with a list of show site criteria that was set in cement long before the center-of-the-country vote. FYI, the following information appears on the Boxer Nationals Venue Concerns Facebook page, thanks to Cheryl Robbins, a member of the ABC Showsite Committee.

·         Location – Must be in the geographic center of the country or reasonably close.
·         Airport Accessibility – Must be within one hour or less from an airport serviced by one or more of the major airlines. 
·         Shuttle Service – between the hotel and airport must be available including for those travelling with dogs in crates. Hotel should be located adjacent to an Interstate hwy. 
·         Availability – Must be available the first full week in May – Saturday thru Friday.
·         Hotel Criteria – Minimum of 250 rooms available and must accept dogs in rooms.
·         Cost preferably in range of $80 - $100 per room night.
·         Parking – Need space for 70 to 80 RV’s (ABC provides electric, waste pick up, etc). Need space for vans and X-Pens.
·         Dining – Must have at least a full service restaurant and snack bar available – preferably 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
·         Show Room – should be at least 12,000 sq. ft., able to accommodate a show ring (min. width 70 ft.) with room for at least 3 rows of chairs on three sides. (Chairs provided by hotel.) Show room must be air conditioned and well lit.
·         Agility – Need an Indoor Dog Training Facility adjacent or close to Show Site.
·         Banquet – Need space for 500 people.

That’s a formidable list of requirements, and I included only the “drop dead” essential ones. There are many, many more listed on the FB page and in the summer 2011 Bulletin. It’s obvious that these criteria were designed to fit a large, self-contained hotel near a major airport, rather than just a suitable show site. If ABC members were willing to compromise on just one requirement – having a hotel directly adjacent to the show site – Purina Farms in St Louis, MO would be an ideal venue in every other way. But as it stands right now, those are the onerous requirements the Show Site Committee has had to work around in trying to find us a centrally located show site.

Is having it all in one location an outdated concept? Do other large clubs successfully hold their national specialties at venues like Purina Farms?  Is Purina Farms affordable for breed clubs only because it’s subsidized by Purina? I don’t know, but you’ve got to wonder how we’ll be able to find 3 or more sites for a roving specialty in different areas of the country when, based on those show site criteria, we haven’t been able to find even one central location in 13 years. On the other hand, maybe I’m being too negative. I do believe a roving national could work, if for no other reason than that the Futurity and Top 20 will rove along with the specialty, and for many breeders and owners, the Futurity is the most important part of the ABC show – an annual event we’ve been planning for and looking forward to in some cases for almost two years with our latest young hopefuls. And despite my reservations, I have come up with a few ideas for a roving ABC National Specialty. Please check them out below (and consider offering your own ideas in the comments section or in a guest blog).    

K.I.S.S. – A Roving ABC

IMO, we need to keep this new system as simple as possible, at least in the beginning. My "vision" for an ABC roving specialty would be a site in the east, a site in the middle of the country, and a site in the far west -- CA, NV, etc – then back to the east. That way, one year out of 3, the ABC would be reasonably close for everyone in that area; and one year out of 3, it would be a long trek for many people, but still doable in the same way that Ft Mitchell is doable now. Only when it was on the opposite coast – east or west –  would it be a big problem for attendees on the other coast who wanted to bring their dogs to the show. Right now, it's a big problem for the westerners every single year, and it's going to get worse. Just go to and checkout these airline pet policies. (At least one airline charges $275 each way for a dog carried as excess baggage! Some won’t carry dogs at all.)

Next, I think the ABC should be responsible for planning and putting on our National Specialty, no matter where it’s held. The show chair and committee chairs might need to change from location to location, but the buck should stop at the ABC, just as it always has. Think of it this way: the Bluegrass BC doesn't host the current annual specialty, the ABC does. And when we move to Indianapolis in 2013, the Central Indiana BC won't host the show, either. No local club, or group of clubs, has the resources and the income that the ABC has. And no local club has the numbers of workers needed to put on a national specialty. That's why the Regional clusters are often in the hole, financially, after they've hosted a week of Regional shows.  I know of member clubs that are still bitterly divided over Regional shows they hosted years ago.

Furthermore, the workers/committees for the ABC show at the current site aren't drawn just from Kentucky: the show chair lives in Florida; the asst show chair lives in Nevada; the obedience/rally chair lives in Maryland; the agility chair lives in Tennessee; the Futurity chair lives in Michigan. The obedience and breed stewards come from all over the country, and so do the other workers/committee members that contribute to making the show a success. In fact, I think the awards dinner chair is the only one who actually does live in Kentucky.

Other breeds may be able to draw support from a group of strong local member clubs that are as capable of running their national specialty as their parent club is, but I don’t believe that’s the case with boxers. If the ABC leadership tries to make local clubs responsible for coordinating our national specialty, I’ll bet the rent that the experiment will be doomed to failure right off the bat. The ABC members and member club members who are reading this need to think about how they want their elected representatives to act on issues like this one when they cast their ballots for a new ABC Board early next year…and every year.    

Finally, because it makes my head hurt to think of all the changes that would need to be made to switch to a roving national system, I’m going to leave that to Jennifer Walker in the next installment of this series. Take it away, Jen!

Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. - Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986) 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Move to the Middle or Rove? The ABC National Specialty Show

Editor's note:  Welcome to our multi-part series on the timeless subject of whether the ABC national specialty should move...or rove...or stay right where it is.  By all means, make your voice heard in the comments section at the bottom of each blog or drop me a line at Also, please note that there is a Facebook group devoted to this subject – Boxer Nationals Venue Concerns.
My now ex-husband and I attended our first ABC in 1972. It was held on the 22nd floor of the Statler Hilton Hotel in Manhattan in February, to coincide with Westminster – in retrospect a not very dog-friendly venue.  But we were searching for a foundation bitch for our as-yet-unnamed kennel, and were like a pair of kids in a candy store among all the beautiful and famous boxers that we had previously only seen in pictures in the Boxer Review.  We watched the future Ch Holly Lane’s Winter Forecast win the Futurity under Carl Wood with Dick Baum on the lead, and then were thrilled when Larry Downey pointed to Ch Scher-Khoun’s Shadrack, shown by his breeder/owner, Shirley de Boer, for Best of Breed!  We had seen a number of Shadrack’s offspring on the Florida January Circuit, and had already decided that we wanted to start out in boxers with a Shadrack daughter.

The following year, an 11 weeks old Shadrack daughter arrived at the Tampa Int'l Airport via Air Canada from Toronto – the future Ch Scher-Khoun’s Tarantella – to be the foundation of our newly named Scarborough Kennels. And that year and most years thereafter, we continued to attend the ABC Specialty, still in Manhattan in February, until it moved to an armory in New Jersey in 1977.  Finally in 1980, the ABC moved to a May date and to the Holiday Inn North in Newark, NJ. With one exception, the ABC stayed in Newark till 1995, when the ABC membership voted to move to the Holiday Inn FSK in Frederick, MD.

Unfortunately, Frederick proved to be no more satisfactory as a national venue than Newark, and the unhappiness of the ABC’s western members with a supposedly “national” club that appeared to be permanently fixed in the Northeast, always seething just beneath the surface, finally came to a boil. In an article entitled “The Next Great Controversy: Moving the ABC” that appeared in the 1998 ABC Issue of the old Boxer Underground (, this is how we described what happened:

“Somebody finally did it. At the ABC membership meeting in May ‘98, Dr. Paul Gerard, the 1997-98 regional ABC board member from California, tossed a bombshell into the closing minutes of the meeting just as everyone was stifling yawns, glancing surreptitiously at their watches, and hoping that someone would make a motion to adjourn. Dr. Gerard made a motion that the entire ABC membership be allowed to vote on whether or not to move the ABC to the center of the country. Even though the meeting room was packed with northeastern ABC members, his "Move the ABC" motion passed quite handily. And that means that ABC members and member clubs can soon expect to receive a ballot asking for their vote on yet another controversial issue - one that may make "Ear Wars" look like a minor disagreement over which shade of blue to paint the guest bedroom.

“As long as we’ve been members of ABC - over 17 years now - there have been rumblings about moving the ABC out of the Northeast to a location more accessible to all exhibitors. This dissatisfaction came to a head when several car thefts and muggings made it plain that the Newark, NJ site was not only esthetically unappealing, it was downright unsafe as a venue for our national specialty. At that point, after giving the membership a brief period of time to check out and propose alternatives to Newark, the ABC sent out ballots for what amounted to a "show site popularity contest,” and FrederickMD won. In all fairness, no center-of-the-country site was proposed (Ohio and Pennsylvania were as close to "centrally located" as it got), and I don’t think anybody realized that the Holiday Inn FSK could not accommodate all would-be ABC attendees without utilizing its "sister motel," the Holiday Inn Express (formerly the Super 8), which was NOT as conveniently located to the Holiday Inn FSK as advertised, especially if you flew into the ABC with dogs or without a rental vehicle. Be that as it may, ABC members once again have an opportunity to select a different location for our national specialty.”  

And there you have it.  The room exploded, the ABC secretary noted in her meeting minutes that Dr Gerard had proposed a move to “Central America” (that was good for many a joke during the following year), and the ABC membership voted 2 to 1 to move our national specialty show to the center of the US despite all the deprecating remarks about cornfields and tornadoes that were flying through cyberspace at the time. However, because the ABC, through a series of misadventures and foot-dragging, never did get to the center of the country, the controversy continues unabated, complete with attempts to suggest that Dr Gerard really meant the demographic, rather than the geographic center of the US (he didn’t), and a stringent set of show site criteria that disqualifies many of the motels/hotels that are willing to host a dog show right off the bat.

In the meantime, things have changed since 1998:  The airlines offer few direct/non-stop flights these days; some airlines have stopped accepting animals as excess baggage at all; some airlines refuse to fly “snub-nosed” breeds like boxers, bulldogs and Persian cats, and those that still do, charge accordingly (and outrageously). And for motor home and minivan drivers alike, I don’t have to tell you that the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel has gone through the roof.

In short, although I voted for the move to the middle 13 years ago, I am no longer so sure that the center of the country would be the fairest and most accessible venue for the majority of ABC goers. Despite the almost insurmountable problems of setting up a roving national system for a parent club that’s institutionally steeped in tradition and very much opposed to change, a roving ABC national is looking better and better all the time.

Please join us later this week for Part II of this series.  Thanks for reading!


Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. - Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)