Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Read Between the Lines – USDA Conference Call on New Rules for Retail Pet Stores

Editors note: This week, we’re featuring a humorous take on the new USDA/APHIS rules for retail pet sales from the Time 4 Dogs website (http://time4dogs.blogspot.com/). Of course, there’s nothing funny about AR groups like the HSUS and PETA, and believe me, I know what a deadly serious threat the “well-meaning” folks at the DDAL are to our right to own, breed and show our dogs. But I think you’ll agree that this Time 4 Dogs satire just highlights the extremism and illogical thinking of the Animal Rights Movement in the US.

For an explanation of how the new APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) ruling will affect you, Time 4 Dogs has a new blog in a more serious vein at the above link.

Read Between the lines – A Satire J

I've got the transcript in front of me from the USDA conference call regarding the new rules for retail pet stores that took place on Sept 10, 2013, thanks to the Sportsman and Animals Owners' Voting Alliance! I've also listened to the recording of the call, courtesy of The Cavalry Group. After examining the details of the call, I tried to imagine how it might go with a "read-between-the-lines" interpretation. Here we go!

Kevin: Welcome, callers. After suffering years of much yammering in our ears from scam groups like the Humane Society of the United States, the Doris Day Animal League, the ASPCA and other radical animal extremist groups, we are posting new rules limiting your exemption from the Animal Welfare Act as a retailer of pets. Dogs, primarily, but of course we will combine different species to "count against you" in order to limit you further. We've discovered that 80% of breeders out there are hobbyists and are escaping our iron fist. That will never do! We want them to change to a business model.

The humaniac supporters of our new rules claim that USDA licensing is the hallmark of a "puppy mill." We're not so sure about that, but we are really listening to them. It seems that even though they don't like USDA licensed breeders, they want to have thousands more of them. Go figure! But, we need the money so we're anxious to get started. Why, they've already greased the palms of the politicians who appoint us with millions of dollars! We are DETERMINED to please them! Maybe we'll enjoy more of that sweet gravy!

We relied on the HSUS and other animal fanatics to help write up these new rules, and they’ve decided that you should be allowed no more than four female dogs on your premises. Any intact bitch "counts against you" as long as she is not too old or too young. But we will be the ones to decide whether she "counts against you" or not! It's good to be queen, no? We don't bother with those pesky little details like whether or not she is ever actually bred.

Furthermore, our good friends, the humaniacs, insist that you must have a face-to-face meeting involving buyer, seller and the pet when the transfer is made. This doesn't need to be at your home, where you could be robbed at gunpoint or targeted by animal rights nuts who enjoy turning breeders in to authorities for any infraction of rules or laws, whether real or imagined.

No problem! You can meet in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Just like all the people who sell sick dogs out of the backs of their trucks that they brought up from Mexico a few days ago. You just go ahead and model your business practices after them. Many of them claim to be "rescues," so we can be sure that they are nobler than the rest of humanity. We like those "rescues" because they don't intentionally breed dogs. At least, we can't prove that they do, so no point in pursuing them. They are exempt from any and all rules.

Even though all dogs shipped currently are examined by a veterinarian, we have no confidence in the ability of a veterinarian to evaluate health. A veterinary health certificate is useless, even though all airlines currently require one to ship a dog. The buyer knows better than a veterinarian whether the pet is healthy or not. Besides, we really don't care about health. It's all about getting snitches into your home in our quest to stop you from breeding.  

We are fully aware that hundreds of thousands of you oppose being brought under wholesale, commercial breeder regulations. We also know of the many concerns you have and exactly WHY you are opposed. We've read all of your comments, petitions and letters; but frankly, WE DON'T CARE. These are the new rules. If you don't like them, then you can just quit breeding dogs. Please.

We are only here today to explain to you, the BREEDERS who sell and ship sick, genetically defective pets to poor, unsuspecting buyers, why you can't do that any more. We will answer your questions if we feel like it. Regarding the questions we don't understand or don't want to be truthful about? Well, we will simply hem, haw and hedge.

Frankly, we don't like the fact that the information superhighway has facilitated sales of pets. Things have just been too easy lately for buyers and sellers. We prefer the days when people had to rely on classified ads in newspapers or the back of magazines to sell pets. That really put a crimp in pet sales, and we appreciated that. We really thought it was terrible that Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold dogs by catalog, but we could never figure out any way to "get" them for doing that.

Until now, that is.

We initially provided estimates on how many more breeders we thought we would be licensing, but we really doubt that will happen. We know that most of you will give up your dog breeding entirely or at least cut it back significantly. If you want to give USDA licensing a whirl, we anticipate that you will need a one-time investment in an amount to effectively double the size of your current mortgage, to convert your home into a commercial kennel. Of course, your local zoning laws will prevent that anyway, so don't worry! It's all good.

OK let's get right to those questions! Who is first?

Susan from the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders:  My dogs both work in the field and are pets and are show dogs, too. Must I become USDA licensed? What do you consider a "working dog" for purposes of exemption?

Dr. Russian: Let me get this straight, you have a dog that does multiple things?

Susan: Right.

Dr. Russian: Wow that's incredible! Then you must keep separate kennels. Dogs that work must be kept separately from dogs that are pets.

Susan: But it's the same breed. It's the same dogs. All my dogs have multiple uses. They are retrievers, they hunt. I don't keep them in kennels. They are house pets too. Would hunting dogs and retrieving dogs be considered "working dogs" for purposes of exemption?

Dr. Russian: What a conundrum. I really don't understand the concept of dogs having multiple uses and purposes. I suggest you call me and run your "business model" past me. That way I can figure out the best way to harass you, OK? And make sure to tell all the other people in your group to call me, too! Next caller.

Roland from the National Finch and Softbill Society: Are birds exempt? What about birds or dogs bred to a breed standard? How many comments opposed your new rules? Will the USDA contract out their inspections?

Kevin: Birds are exempt. That's why we took your call. Geez, why did you have to ask other questions too? Who the hell is screening these callers?

Well, let me try to tackle the other questions, since this is probably all going on the record. We have no plans to outsource inspections at this time. Why should we when we have HSUS lackeys employed right here at the USDA for that purpose? No comment on how many comments were submitted in opposition to the new rules. We frankly don't care. As to standards, we have our own standards, and they are arbitrary and capricious. That suits us just fine. We don't care about you.

Roland: Again, why are show standards not taken into consideration?

Dr. Russian: The rules are up, read them and get back to me. We've already told you, we don't give a damn about show standards.

Sarah from HSUS and Doris Day Animal League: We are SO EXCITED that OUR new rules are going into effect!!! We only hope that they can do enough damage to really cripple pet breeding here in the US before this gets challenged in court. Our group (DDAL) already tried to push retail hobby breeders into the same regulations as wholesale, commercial breeders, but the courts ruled that we couldn't do that. The nerve of those courts, upholding the constitution! But that won't stop us from continuing on our crusade to ban breeding! My question is, how will you make effective use of your time and limited resources? How soon will you jump on board our bandwagon and start reaching out to bitchslap some breeders?

Kevin: Not to worry, Sarah and other goodie two-shoes. We want to get to the most people as quickly as possible in order to protect animals from being exploited as pampered pets. We will look initially at those breeders we can catch who appear to have high volume, then we will be happy to take complaints from humaniacs such as yourself. So we will be depending on you guys from HSUS, DDAL, CAPS and other groups to help us out here, OK? Please don't let us down!!

Sarah: We are ready, Kevin!! We won't fail in our quest to shut down every dog breeder in the US! Thanks again!

Jennifer from the HTPCB: What is the definition of a "breeding bitch"?

Kevin: It doesn't matter as long as you let people into your home to inspect you. Why are you breeders so hung up on definitions? We make the definitions up as we go along.

Dr. Russian: Breeding FEMALE (oh I just can't bring myself to use that "B" word!). I say, it's a dog that can breed. Ultimately, we decide what does or does not "count against you" for your numbers limit. End of story!

Cathy from Animal Welfare Institute: Hallelujah! Our prayers have been answered! New rules to put more pet breeders out of business. I just want to be sure you cover each and every species of pet. There is too much animal suffering, forcing them to be pets.

Kevin: Yes, don't worry. All species of pets are covered.

Cathy: Whew! Thanks again!

Tracy from the HSUS: We are thrilled that those greedy, evil breeders will now be forced into the USDA system or quit breeding entirely. Thrilled, I tell you! When can we get started?

Kevin: Well, by law, we have to wait 60 days to start enforcing any new rules. However, our motto here at the USDA is "Why wait on legal technicalities?" Let's start right now looking for people to harass by going through breed registries and looking at people advertising on the internet. We hope they will voluntarily just give up breeding on their own, or turn themselves in for enforcement, but if not, don't worry, we'll be on the lookout for them.

Larry, President of North American Falconers Association: Are birds exempt?

Kevin: Another call about birds? Great! Yes, birds are exempt.

Larry: But you just told the lady from Animal Welfare that all species of pets are included?

Kevin: Well if you were looking for honesty, Larry, this is the wrong place to be. Birds are exempt. We haven't figured out how to include them "at this point." Our friends at the HSUS are helping us work on getting standards in place to regulate birds.

Larry: Great!! Birds are exempt! Yay!

Linda, hobby breeder: Currently buyers all come into my house. I don't ship. So I'm a retail store, right?

Kevin: You are covered.

Dr. Russian: People don't need to come to your home for you to be exempt. Don't listen to Kevin, he doesn't know what he’s talking about.

Linda: Wal-Mart parking lot is OK?

Kevin: Sure, why not? But be careful not to get arrested in the states that have laws against sales in public places. Those new laws are awesome!! Hooray for HSUS! We're so glad to see that selling animals is now a crime in many places.

Linda: My daughter and I both have breeding bitches, she has three, I have five. I also am a broker for other people. How does all that work? These new rules are confusing.

Dr. Russian: We see intact dogs on your premises, they are being counted. If you don't ship any dogs you are not covered. But now that we know you are a dog breeder and broker, we are definitely going to have you on our radar screen.

Linda: But I don't ship.

Kevin: We will wait, maybe, for a few months or even years before we start to go after people like you. But rest assured, we WILL be coming after you eventually. What we say now, and how the rules are written, may be two entirely different things.

Linda: I advertise online, sometimes dozens of dogs for sale at a time.

Kevin: Boy, you are one of those upfront, honest people who will be the first to go. SUCKER!!

Since you say you don't ship, we will be leaving you alone. Temporarily. Rules will be tightened up in the future to better protect dogs and persecute breeders.

Deborah from ASPCA: Thank you thank you! How can we make sure that everyone is licensed within 60 days? How will we go after people who don't apply for a license?

Dr. G: We will outreach beginning immediately. We will try to get the more naïve to turn themselves in and we will be on the lookout for those who don't. Rest assured, humaniacs, that your wish is our command.

Carla, breeder of Aussies: There is an exemption for working dogs. What about stock dogs? And, if I have a state license, why do I need a license with the feds?

Kevin: We don't care how many layers of bureaucracy you have to contend with. The more, the better. I don't know what a "stock dog" is so I'll let Dr. Russian address that part.

Dr. Russian: Good God, I don't know what a "stock dog" is either. But if it isn't used for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, exhibition or use as a pet, then we can't sink our meat hooks into it. Darn.

Kara from MPBA: Can we advertise on the internet as long as we don't ship? What about my stock dogs? What if I say I'm selling breeders? Can't you give us a few loopholes to work with?

Dr. Russian: We LOVE people who advertise on the net, that's where we will go a-huntin' for breeders. So advertise away! Your business model is what we are looking at. If you sell dogs, then how you do it is OUR decision!

After all these questions about dogs for stock, I am really wondering now what the heck you are talking about. Stocking the shelves of your stores? Making soup? You breeders are really weird!!

Kevin: We are from the government, and we are here to help! Restraint of trade is what we do best. Who needs free enterprise? Phooey.

We suggest if you are confused about the rules, you call us so we can begin to investigate you immediately. We need to know about your "business model" even though you are a hobby breeder, not a business. We don't take into consideration your profit or loss, only the fact that you dare to sell pets. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. We are here for the animals, and as long as we draw breath and continue to collect our six-figure salaries, we are committed to continuing to dream up new ways to screw over anyone evil enough to breed pets.

I will happily refer those of you with further questions to our knowledgeable enforcement division, Sarah L. Conant, former lawyer for the Humane Society of the US, and animal rights extremist Deborah Dubow Press. They are waiting to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. They'll even do it with a smile!

If we can drive a few breeds extinct, or prevent someone from getting the dog of their dreams, then our efforts will not have been in vain.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


This article was originally published in the online edition of the Boxer Daily.

Not too long ago on a genetics list I belong to, a list member posted several links to articles in various scientific publications about the latest research on the evolution and domestication of dogs. Coincidentally, the poster is also a Boxer breeder and sent the links to the SB-L and the Showboxer Forum, too.

The consensus of the researchers featured in these articles is that on their way to domestication, dogs evolved along with humans to be able to thrive on a grain-rich diet. In the Health & Science section of the January 23rd edition of the Washington Post, science reporter David Brown summed it up like this:
"You know that dog biscuit shaped like a bone but made mostly of wheat? Your dog’s willingness to eat that treat, instead of going for a bone in your thigh, helps explain how its ancestors evolved from wolves into house pets."
A team of Swedish researchers compared the genomes of wolves and dogs and found that a big difference is dogs’ ability to easily digest starch. On their way from pack-hunting carnivore to fireside companion, dogs learned to desire — or at least live on — wheat, rice, barley, corn and potatoes.
As it turns out, the same thing happened to humans as they came out of the forest, invented agriculture and settled into diets rich in grains.
“I think it is a striking case of co-evolution,” said Erik Axelsson, a geneticist at Uppsala University. “The fact that we shared a similar environment in the last 10,000 years caused a similar adaptation. And the big change in the environment was the development of agriculture.”
In the ensuing discussion of this research on the Showboxer Forum, one list member questioned the idea of raw meat as a suitable diet for modern dogs by asking, “Are we turning our dogs into wolves?”  

Maybe I’m just eager to embrace this new hypothesis because my boxers basically live on IAMS MiniChunks and with only a few minor detours, have thrived on that diet since forever. But even if I’m not being totally objective, I think that list member had a good point. My dogs’ coats are shiny, their eyes are bright, they’re neither too thin nor too fat, and they seldom visit the vet – usually only for routine health tests. Yes, I do make a pot of chicken soup for them once a week, but not so much because I’ve bought into the current “All Canines Are Carnivores” meme, as because I was brought up by a mother and grandmother who considered chicken soup one of the five major food groups. Luckily, and with only one exception, I’ve always been blessed with boxers that would eat a box of rocks if you put it in front of them at dinnertime.

I do admit that during the home-cooking craze, I started feeling guilty about feeding my crew any commercial dog food, the equivalent in the opinion of home-cooking advocates of letting them scavenge for sustenance on a public landfill. I invited home-cooking gurus to publish their favorite recipes in the old Boxer Underground Online Newsmagazine (which ran from 1998 to 2006), and I stocked up on oatmeal, hamburger and green and yellow veggies and stood at the kitchen counter and the stove for hours, chopping and stirring. The dogs loved it and it smelled good, too, even if the sticky gray mess that resulted looked like something Macbeth’s witches had concocted in their bubbling cauldron.  At the time, however, I was working a more-than-40-hour week at a very demanding job, so it wasn’t long before my canine family was back on IAMS.

I’ve never been tempted to try raw-feeding or a grain-free commercial diet for two reasons: 1) I live in Florida where it’s hot and humid all year long, and am scared to death of salmonella and e-coli, for both my dogs and my own family; and 2) feeding four boxers on Canidae or Orijen just isn’t in my budget. (Neither for that matter is feeding raw, even if I weren’t concerned about handling raw chicken in this climate.)

It’s probably obvious at this point that I believe dog food should be nutritious and relatively economical, and feeding dogs should be as simple and convenient as possible. Of course, if my dogs were in poor condition or were constantly at the vet’s, I’d switch to another brand of dog food or a completely different diet. (I’d also take a good long look at my breeding program.)

But so far, that’s never been the case, and that makes me wonder if perhaps we're not doing our dogs any favors by trying to feed them as though they were wolves.

Food for thought?


Monday, July 15, 2013


The short answer to the title question is, “When the Holter recording wasn’t read and interpreted by a board certified veterinary cardiologist.”  But actually, it’s not nearly as simple as that, and this blog is going to be neither a paean to all board certified cardiologists nor an exposé of the commercial services that provide inexpensive, technician-read holter reports with a super-fast turnaround. Hopefully, this account will give other Boxer breeders the same kind of “heads up” I got recently when I had occasion to send the same Holter tape, first to a commercial Holter reading service, and then to a board certified veterinary cardiologist.

A Tale of Two Holter Reports

Before I begin this little cautionary tale, let me say that I don’t pretend to be an expert on heart disease. In fact, beyond a short CPR course that I’ve mostly forgotten, I’ve had no medical training whatsoever. What I’ve learned about Boxer Cardiomyopathy, or ARVC as it’s now called, was “absorbed” from listening (and taking notes) to the presentations of researchers and other experts as secretary to the ABC Health & Research Committee and the ABCF Board of Trustees, and by taking advantage of the expert knowledge of the cardiologist who treats my own dogs and who is never too busy to answer questions or explain heart disease to his clients.

This saga began with a 5 year-old health-tested bitch that had never been bred and a very promising young dog whose parents had been health tested and who had “passed” several health tests himself (DM clear, SAS clear & Thyroid normal), but had not yet been Holtered. The two prospective breeding partners complemented each other perfectly, so I threw a Holter monitor on the young dog and sent it off to one of the commercial Holter reading services, asking that they return the tape to me after reading it.  I usually send my Holter tapes to a cardiologist for interpretation due to a friend’s sad experience with one of the “quickie” services, but I wanted a faster turnaround than the cardiologist provided for a pre-breeding clearance.

In only a few days, I had a report that showed 5 VPCs and zero (0) supraventricular ectopics (also called APCs, or Atrial Premature Contractions). The tape was returned shortly thereafter. Because the early days of my breeding program were haunted by Boxer Cardiomyopathy (before anyone knew what it was), I wasn’t completely happy with 5 VPCs in such a young dog, but it was now or never for my bitch, so I proceeded with the breeding. Then I mailed the tape to the cardiologist to whom I usually send Holter recordings for interpretation, hoping that some of those 5 VPCs were just artifacts.

The cardiologist’s report was sent to me within two weeks and read, in part:
 “There were a total of 4, Ventricular Premature Beats (VPC’s or PVC’s) during the monitoring period. There were frequent singular atrial premature beats during the recording period. There were runs of supraventricular tachycardia during the monitoring period. The singular APCs are not as concerning as the runs of SVT at fast rates. The longest run of SVT was 9 beats duration…”
“Diagnosis: Abnormal 24 hour holter study
“Recommendations: I recommend treatment of these arrhythmias specifically to try to slow down or abolish the runs of fast SVT. I suggest we begin Atenolol 25 mg tabs --1/2 tab by mouth twice daily....This type of arrhythmia is not the classic arrhythmia noted in Boxers affected with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy in that they are usually ventricular in origin. Some Boxers will have this rhythm as the first sign of ARVC and follow up holter studies may show the development of ventricular arrhythmias. Alternatively this can be an arrhythmia problem noted in Boxers or other breeds which is not associated with ARVC.”

Whoa! Only 4 VPCs – fewer than on the report from the commercial service – but runs of supraventricular tachycardia and a cardiologist’s recommendation of treatment with Atenolol?  Where did that come from?!  The first report said there were zero supraventricular ectopics!

A Third Holter Report + an Echo

I immediately called my own cardiologist to discuss the second Holter report, and to arrange for rental of a digital Holter monitor (my own monitor is analog, and my cardiologist no longer processes analog recordings or tapes). Shortly after the monitor was returned to the second cardiologist, the doctor called personally to give me the bad news: Although interpretation of the recording wasn’t yet complete, the third Holter report looked very much like the second. At that point, I made an appointment for a face-to-face consult at the cardiologist’s clinic, which included an echo to rule out structural heart disease.

After reviewing the third Holter report at my cardiologist’s clinic a week or so later, it became obvious that there was something very, very wrong with the first Holter reading done by the commercial service. Remember the zero (0) Supraventricular Ectopics noted on the first report? My cardiologist recorded 23,689 isolated (single) supraventricular events plus 5 Couplets and 20 Runs. That’s 23,825 supraventricular ectopics, or 18% of the dog’s total heartbeats!  Cardiologist # 2 also suggested that we consider medication (sotalol) to slow the fast heart rate.

Frankly, I was blown away. How could that first Holter have been so completely out of the ballpark? Had the Holter service sent some other dog’s report?  But that couldn’t be, because the same tape had been returned to me and sent on to the first cardiologist; and the second cardiologist had produced a similar report from a different (digital) recording!

As soon as I got home, I fired off an email to the commercial Holter reading service to which I had originally sent the tape.  I attached a copy of their Holter report showing 5 VPCs and zero supraventricular ectopics and excerpts from the reports generated by the cardiologists. A company rep answered in short order, and said he was going to look into what had happened and would get back to me.

The next morning, I received a phone call from the manager of the Holter service. We talked for about 30 minutes.  His attitude was both apologetic and defensive. At the end of our conversation, I understood what had happened but was – there’s no other word for it – incredulous.

Apparently, because a few supraventricular ectopics (Atrial Premature Contractions) are no big deal (both cardiologists had said much the same thing), and because part of the canine side of the business came from individual owners who were primarily concerned about VPCs and ARVC and didn’t know what supraventricular ectopics were (I certainly hadn’t known), those concerned owners tended to call the service for an explanation when they saw numbers in the “Supraventricular Ectopics” column of the report. So the people who dealt with dog owners (rather than with the human and veterinary cardiologists who used the service, presumably) decided that they would stop confusing their customers with irrelevant information and simply stopped collecting and reporting ANY supraventricular activity to individual dog owners.

As noted, the representative I spoke with was both defensive and apologetic. He repeatedly made the point that a little atrial arrhythmia was usually nothing to be worried about, but admitted that there was nothing usual about nearly twenty-four thousand atrial ectopics. He also admitted that the report generated by his company had, in effect, given my young dog a “pass,” when the dog clearly had a condition that needed to be addressed by a cardiologist and that would have been immediately obvious if the “Supraventricular Ectopics” column had not shown zeros across the board.

By the end of our conversation, the Holter company representative had assured me that in the future, their reports would include supraventricular ectopics; and I was left of two minds about the whole experience: On the one hand, I believe that in the absence of a reliable gene test, all North American Boxer breeders and owners should Holter their breeding animals at least once a year and that these fast, inexpensive Holter services make it possible for everyone to do that – no excuses!  And I understand that my dog presented an unusual situation that I may never encounter again. I still don’t know exactly what’s wrong with him, or whether the problem is hereditary or might be atrial myocarditis caused by something like Lyme disease.

On the other hand, it was unsettling to find that the management of a Holter reading service had felt their customers were incapable of understanding all the information the service had been paid to provide and so decided not to provide some of it; and it’s only human nature to ask, what else did they miss? 

The fact is, while some veterinary cardiologists are prohibitively expensive, some are quite reasonable and are willing to work with breeders. My inclination at this point is to say, if you really care about Boxer heart disease, find one of those “reasonable” cardiologists. Or at the very least, the next time you send a Holter recording to one of the fast, cheap Holter reading services, ask that their in-house cardiologist read and interpret your tape, even if it costs a little extra.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 2013 ABC: One Down, One to Go…

One Down…

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, May 4-10 – First the bad news: mostly gray skies and an on-again, off-again drizzle the whole time we were there.  No restaurants within walking distance of the host hotel and glacially slow service in the hotel restaurant throughout the week. No matting in the ring for the first two specialties –  all the available mats were being used for ABC Obedience, which ran concurrently with the specialties on Saturday & Sunday. The slippery plush green carpet that had been put down in the place of mats was an accident waiting to happen (ringside complained about it all day, to no avail), and sure enough, a handler tripped on a poorly-taped seam and was injured when she hit the floor face-first during BOB on Saturday. For the second specialty on Sunday morning, the green rug had disappeared, but the wall-to-wall carpet that covered the ring wasn’t much better. Note to show chair and superintendent: Conformation dogs and their handlers need secure footing, too!

The show site was definitely a work in progress, but the good news – especially from this headhunter’s perspective – was that class after class featured some of the most beautiful heads and expressions I’ve seen at the ABC in many a year. And there were quite a few dogs and bitches, especially in the younger classes, that I would have loved to take home. What’s more, overtly shy dogs were few and far between, and the judges, who had some very tough choices to make, consistently selected many of the same competitors for their top class placements. Our breed appears to be in very good hands, and after all, we go to the ABC to see the beautiful Boxers…not the beautiful show site.

More good news came in the form of a decision by the ABC BOD to listen to membership, ah...“feedback” on the newly created ABC Judges Selection Committee (JSC). The JSC’s procedures threatened to spark an outright revolt on the part of the ABC membership when they were outlined in the Regional Board Meeting Minutes published in the Winter 2012 edition of The ABC Bulletin and members learned that they would no longer be able to nominate judges for the ABC shows.

By the time the general membership meeting convened on Wednesday evening, May 8, the JSC procedures announced at the meeting had been completely revamped in response to the outpouring of angry protests and negative comments from the Boxer email lists and from the ABC Member Club Presidents Meeting, which took place on Monday, May 6 at the ABC. The “new” procedures announced at the membership meeting  ensure that ABC members will continue to be able to nominate ABC judges directly as we have always done, instead of having our nominating privileges usurped by a panel of five unelected zone directors and two appointed committee chairs. Rather than selecting the ABC judges for us, the new committee will instead work on streamlining the selection process by establishing criteria for prospective judges (a sorely needed reform) and holding primary elections.

All’s well that ends well, but this might not have ended well if so many people hadn’t protested long and loud to the ABC BOD; and if so many of the directors hadn’t been equally opposed when they finally got the straight scoop and realized that the JSC was going to disenfranchise the entire membership!  It’s a shame that the board members who were doing their best all along to represent the members had to take so much flak because of the few directors who thought they knew better than anyone else what was good for the rest of us. Hopefully, next time something comes up that potentially affects the membership, someone will ask the members what they think of it first, before proceeding full speed ahead…

One to Go…

Per the title of this blog, “One to Go” is the fact that the ABC is still not accessible to the members and exhibitors who live in the westernmost part of the US. The ABC directors know that, and they know why: Most airlines will no longer fly “snub-nosed breeds,” and those that still do – as airfreight, not excess baggage – charge a small fortune to ship a Boxer-size dog across the country.  A West Coast handler told me the airline had charged her $3000 round-trip to fly 3 Boxers from California to Indiana and back. How many of us could afford to pay $1000 just to get one dog to the ABC and back home?

At the board meeting on Tuesday, May 7, the chair of the Site Committee reported to the directors that the Topeka site was not suitable because there were too few rooms available and it was an hour and twenty minutes drive from the airport to the hotel. The site committee therefore recommended a 2-year extension on our contract with the Wyndham. After a discussion of the committee’s recommendation (Oh, to have been a fly on the wall!) the board ultimately voted to extend the contract for 1 year, through 2015. There were only 3 dissenting votes, from 3 of the directors who live west of the Mississippi.

So here we are, 15 years later, back to square one. And by the way, it’s true that “Tornado Alley” runs right through the Midwest during March, April and May, but it’s also true that you can’t get more Midwest than Indiana. Check out the stats at the following URL: http://indianadoes.blogspot.com/2012/01/tornadoes-by-month-for-1950-2010.html

You know, it’s often said that where there’s a will there’s a way. The ABC BOD is a very smart group of people. If they have the will, they’ll find a way. Soon.

Coming Next Month:


If you’re as frustrated by ARVC as I am, you won’t want to miss it!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Because the mid-March ABC mailing that contains the Board of Directors ballot and questionnaires was delayed, I’ve taken the list of nominees from the ABC website and copied it below. The Board election is especially important this year because of two controversial issues that will be decided by the current BOD and implemented, or not, by future directors – issues we’ve discussed to death on Facebook and the Boxer email lists in the last few months. If you feel strongly about these issues one way or the other, you need to read the BOD questionnaire that was filled out by each nominee.  (If you’re an ABC member, log in to the ABC website, click on “INFORMATION,” then on “SECRETARY REPORT” and finally on “March 2013.” If you’re a member club member, write to me at vzboxers@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a copy of the questionnaires.)

The first issue is one that – if approved by the BOD – would mean that ABC members could no longer nominate judges for the ABC Specialty, Futurity or Regional. The ABC President has proposed an ABC Judges Selection Committee (JSC) comprised of the five unelected zone directors, who would accept suggestions, NOT nominations, from ABC members and winnow those suggestions, no matter how many, down to three (3) names.  If as an ABC member you don’t want to be completely disenfranchised by this proposal, you need to vote for the Board candidates who pledge to protect your rights and privileges. And then hold them to their pledge.

The 12 people listed below have been nominated to fill four (4) open positions. After reading the Board questionnaires on the ABC website, I conducted my own little informal survey: Two (2) of the nominees specifically stated that they were opposed to a judges selection committee that takes rights away from the membership; only one (1) nominee said she was in favor of it. A number of the other candidates said they believed, as one candidate put it, “No significant policy decisions affecting the Members should be made without first consulting them if at all possible.” IMO, that’s just a gentler way of saying no to this very unpopular proposal.  Again, before you put an “X” in the box next to a candidate’s name, read his/her Board questionnaire and see where s/he stands on this issue.
Stephanie Abraham                Thomas Latta 
Steve Anderson                      Betty Mentzer-Cope
Mary Frances Burleson          Jeff Phillips
Ann Gilbert                              Virginia (Ginny) Shames
Marilyn Grayson                     Korinne Vanderpool
Jeannie Hoffman                    Judy Voran
The second issue is one we’ve been batting back and forth since 1998 – moving the ABC to the center of the country so that our National specialty show is accessible to western ABC members and exhibitors, too, not just those who live east of the Mississippi. On this one, I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone who tried to fly a dog to the 2012 ABC in Kentucky that in the last few years, new airline regulations and policies have made it practically impossible and prohibitively expensive to fly dogs, especially boxers (a “snub-nosed” breed), anywhere. Knowing that, what the officers and BOD are in effect saying to the western half of the nation at this point is, “Frankly my dears, we don’t give a damn!”

Entitling this blog “THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF THE YEAR” really isn't hyperbole. There really is a big split between the ABC leaders who believe in transparency and are responsive to the general membership and those who support secrecy and think they know better than the majority of the membership how the ABC should be run. These new Board members will determine whether the ABC becomes a more, or less, democratic organization; and whether the elected leadership listens to the membership or not. Read those questionnaires!   

Saturday, January 12, 2013



A week or so ago, I received a package from the ABC, containing ballots for the 2014 Specialty and Futurity judges and a nomination form for the ABC Board of Directors. Coincidentally, there are two hugely important issues before the ABC board at this time: 1) whether ABC members will be able to continue to nominate judges of OUR choice in the future to judge our Specialty and Futurity; and 2) where our National will be held in 2015.

1) Let’s talk about nomination of ABC judges first: at the 2012 Regional, the ABC president announced at the membership meeting that a new ABC Judges’ Selection Committee (JSC) had been created, but didn’t explain who the members would be or what the JSC would do.  Apparently all the details hadn’t been worked out yet. However, I had heard this issue discussed before I went off the board in July 2012, and from what I understood at the time, was strongly opposed to it.  

In the meantime, I got a phone call from Phillip Koenig, the co-chair of the new committee.  Phillip called to try to convince me that the new JSC was the fairest and most efficient way to select judges for our National & Regional Specialties. He explained that the JSC would be co-chaired by two people appointed by the ABC president (or the ABC show chair?) and would consist of the 5 unelected Regional Directors, who would accept “suggestions” from ABC members, and would then winnow those suggested judges’ names down to three (3!) names that would appear on a ballot for us to vote on. In other words, even if ABC members “suggested” 12 names for the Specialty, as we did this year, only 3 names would make it onto a ballot. Needless to say, despite that I have the greatest respect for Phillip and all the hard work he does for the ABC, I was not convinced.

Take a look at the 12 names on the 2014 Specialty ballot. Most of the candidates are well-known breeder-judges and the rest are respected all-rounders who often judge our breed. Which 9 names would YOU eliminate from that ballot?

Now look at the 8 names on the Futurity ballot – which 5 or 6 noted breeders would YOU consign to the “circular file”? Which of the people on either ballot did not deserve the honor of being nominated to judge our National Specialty & Futurity? Could you have chosen which people to eliminate?  I couldn’t have.  But I do have an idea that might allow all of us to have our cake and eat it too:

There is currently a nominating committee appointed by the ABC president that is responsible for nominating 3 or 4 people to run for the ABC board each year. The committee’s nominees are frequently elected, but not always. ABC members can also nominate candidates (hence the nominating form in the package I received), and the membership is thereby given the opportunity to infuse some “new blood” into the board, if a majority of ABC members agrees with the nominations from the floor.

If the ABC leadership doesn't think the current judges’ selection process is fair and doesn't trust ABC members to nominate good candidates, why not set up the proposed judges’ selection committee like the BOD nominating committee? Let the new judges’ nominating committee nominate three judges for the Specialty and two for the Futurity each year, but let the members continue to make their own nominations as usual, and may the best man or woman win!  And to make it even more of a win-win situation and introduce some fresh faces into the ABC show rings, make a rule that an individual cannot judge the ABC National or Regional more than once every 6-8 years (or 10 years, or whatever). But please, please, PLEASE, don’t give 5 unelected directors and 2 appointees the authority to decide who’s going to judge at the ABC!!!

2) The second issue we need to consider is the fact that most airlines have banned air travel for our boxers, and the ones that still accept “snub-nosed dogs” charge prohibitively expensive shipping fees even for excess baggage, and change their rules and regulations on what seems to be a flight by flight basis. Will the ABC BOD *finally* put the show in the center of the country in 2015 (it’s only been 15 years since we voted to do that) and make the ABC National accessible to western ABC members and exhibitors?

In the representative democracy that is the American Boxer Club, the solution to the above mentioned urgent problems lies with YOU, the ABC membership. We’re about to elect 4 new board members. Contact the board nominees and ASK if they are committed to making the ABC accessible to western members and exhibitors by moving the show to Topeka or some other central location by 2015. Then ASK if they will vote for or against allowing an unelected committee to determine who is allowed to judge at the ABC Specialty, Futurity and Regional.

If you don’t like their answers, then nominate a candidate who represents YOUR best interests. Board nominations must be in the hands of the ABC secretary by Feb 1. It’s as simple as all that!