This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
So bad a name do lady fanciers get that, as far as the outside world is concerned, one might just as well become a professional card sharper as a dog fancier! It is quite wrong that the fancy should be so regarded, but at times one is tempted to think that the devil is not painted a whit blacker than he is. Some specialist clubs have even gone so far as to frame actual rules by which the shows which do not accept their choice of judges shall be boycotted, receiving no special prizes; and, as show committees cannot afford to risk empty classes, the result is a foregone conclusion, the judge is accepted and members of the club win the prizes, and the unfortunate outsiders and novices, who enter their dogs, knowing nothing of club politics, are simply wasting their money. The merit of their dogs is no help to them.
One of the worst scandals of the present day is the way in which specialist clubs are allowed to force their lists of judges on show secretaries. The whole of these lists often consists of well under a dozen names of people, often bound by a special rule to judge according to the club's definition of type, and when such rules are in force, coupled with the compulsory lists, it means that all independent opinion is excluded and that the whole fate of a breed is in the hands of three or four people. It also means that anyone who aspires to be a judge is forced to belong to the club under pain of boycott.
Before the shows the specialist club sends a couple of names from its lists of judges to the show secretaries and these unfortunate gentlemen know well enough that the club specials and guarantees depend on their accepting one of these names.
In the case of the existence of more than one specialist club for the same breed, the browbeaten secretaries find themselves between Scylla and Charybdis. Is it to be wondered at that the owners of good dogs, who really care about the improvement of the race, fight shy of specialist clubs and cliques? If they are sufficiently good judges themselves to require no prompting they rightly resent interference. No one who has studied his breed, both as to points and history, is likely to belong to societies which, when they cannot get the old independent fanciers to judge their way, put in well-primed ignoramuses to award championships at important shows. The inevitable result of such a system is that the title of champion is no longer any guarantee of merit whatever, and most of the best people end by stopping out of the shows altogether, and that endless dissatisfaction, rows, and ill feeling, are created amongst exhibitors by the astonishing awards of people who ought to know better (and often do know better in their hearts) and the flagrant revoking of the ignoramuses who, in spite of coaching, cannot even remember the dogs from one class to another.
At a championship show sometime ago a judge revoked no less than nine times!
Dog Shows as they would be in an Anarchical State
Really, I am inclined to sympathise with the old gentleman who, after carefully following the judging at a show and noting the members of specialist clubs, having sat the while between two ferocious ladies who were fighting over a special prize, was heard to murmur fervently as he got up to go, "From battle, murder, specialist judges, good Lord, deliver us!"
I feel that by writing this I shall be making myself delightfully popular with the various specialist "curses" throughout the country, and that they will be ready to burn my book and possibly add me to the funeral pyre. However, clubs need not necessarily be curses. I dare say lots of them are blessings - in disguise!
No club should be allowed to offer a prize for " the best dog in the show " of any breed, which prize is confined to members. It is most misleading. The words, "confined to members," are always omitted in the reports, as they usually are printed at the head of the club's list of prizes. The wording, " in the show" should be absolutely prohibited and the words "best member's dog " substituted. Often there is no compe-tition for these specials or they are confined to very inferior dogs, which are bought by foreigners on the strength of these high-sounding prizes.
As to a much discussed question of special prizes being offered for dogs which have won only V. H. C, I have always thought the idea of special prizes was that of consolation prizes. There is so little inducement now to the poorer exhibitors to enter their dogs at shows, that I fear we shall soon cease to have any entries at all in Toy dog classes. The prize money is so absurdly out of proportion to the entry fees that a working man is not likely to spend more than a week's wages entering in classes where he has the forlornest hope of winning with a brood bitch, however good, unless there is some consolation prize to tempt him. The challenge certificates kept a good many exhibitors going, but since their reduction the entries have sensibly diminished, and if special prizes are confined to first-prize winners there will be a still further diminution.