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.
The Toy Spaniel pens have in the last few years, I regret to say, earned for themselves very unpleasant nicknames, to the great injury of those exhibitors who are well behaved, peaceable folk. "Scandal Alley" and the "Wasps' Nest" are among the mildest Some exhibitors seem to be like the Irishman who, hearing a row in the street, sent down his boy with the following message: "Please, sir, father says if there's going to be a row he'd like to be in it" This story always delights me, and I have already quoted it elsewhere, but in the case of these exhibitors I think it is more a case of "Please, ladies, Mrs. X says that if there's not going to be a row, she would like to make one" I have also been immensely entertained by the violent language of the exhibitors behind each others backs. One lady will talk of another as a swindler of the blackest kind, and the next thing one sees is the two ladies walking arm in arm like two love birds. The following week they are openly fighting like wild cats because one has induced the other to show under her and has given her V. H. C. Exhibitors of either sex are never friends for long.
They are like the lady who, in speaking rapturously of a friendship, exclaimed: "Oh! we have such quarrels - but such reconciliations!" I have also heard a judge (a man) storming and swearing at an exhibitor in the ring, his face purple with fury, and stamping his feet like a child of six. On other occasions dogs have won through all their classes before luncheon and been put down in all the subsequent classes! The excuses for these lapses are marvellous!
There are some people who have a quasi plausible excuse for everything, and the lady dog dealers remind me sometimes of the man who was brought up before the justices for poaching, with three dead rabbits as witnesses. His defence was that he had gone to sleep under a hedge and the three rabbits had run into his pockets and got accidentally suffocated!
His ingenuity hardly met with the reward it deserved at the hands of the magistrate, who got him accidentally shut into a cell!
In the days of ignorance I used to imagine that a specialist judge was an individual with a special knowledge of his subject, and was all in favor of him. I was, however, soon disillusioned.
"Specialisation is vexation," and its practice is certainly enough to drive us mad.
Rich people are likely to have a very poor time in the dog fancy, which I am afraid sounds rather Irish.
It is a question of "your money or your life." Almost every soul they meet is thirsting for their money, and on failing to get it becomes exceedingly hostile.
A person with money, who refuses to be made into a respectable dummy, with a banking account for the benefit of every sort of clique, club, or society that chooses to ask for it, is liable to be systematically boycotted, and his life made a burden to him by every kind of petty persecution.
Fabulous prices are asked for anything he wishes to buy, and the dealers would rather give their dogs away for a mere song to their worst enemies than let him have anything at less than three times its value.
In this way the exhibitors cut their own throats and drive away the only people who can really help them.
They are outraged if a rich man sells a dog, and have an idea that he should always give his dogs away and shower gold round him like a prince in a fairy tale, forgetting that a modern fairy prince has to pay his Palace expenses and that his hounds and retainers eat, drink, and are merry also at his expense.
A man who will brighten tip trade by giving prizes and does not beat down the breeders, but gives them good value for their stock, one would think to be a godsend to the " Fancy," but this is not how it works out. The bigger dealers are not satisfied with getting first-class prices for good dogs, but on the contrary, they want to keep their good dogs and win all the prizes themselves palming off the riffraff and misfits on the unsuspecting fairy prince for the fabulous prices which only fancy points can demand. The fairy prince, especially if he be an American, is generally quite prepared to pay double the market price, and does not grudge the price if he gets what he wants, but he expects to get a marvel for his money, and small blame to him. Numbers of fanciers hate a man they cannot fleece, and directly he shows them plainly that he will not buy their rubbish but intends to get the best or shut his purse, their one idea is to prevent this unwelcome connoisseur teaching anyone else by getting rid of him as quickly as possible.
In America the kind of "smartness" by which a seller will palm off inferior stock for the price of good stuff seems to be rather admired and the perpetrator considered rather a "bright man," whose acquaintance is worth making. The result is that, if you do happen to tell the exact truth about the defects of a dog, Americans will look upon you with strong suspicion and begin by thinking you very deep indeed, and far too dangerous to touch. If they afterwards discover that you have been " green " enough to be honest their contempt for you knows no bounds. In England I hope we still stop short of admiring swindlers and that it is still considered rather shabby to do a mean trick, but I am sorry to say that I have often heard honest people spoken of contemptuously as " soft."
I am afraid I might as well speak to the winds, but if my exhortations will stop even one of my readers on the tempting downward path they will not be wasted.
To sellers I would say: "Do not try to get the cat and its skin as well," as the saying is, and if you find an open-handed novice who will give you the best of prices and trust to your honour to give the best of dogs in return, do not take the money and sell a second-rater instead. It is not only dishonourable, but it is bad business. Ill-gotten gains bring no one any good in the long run. The world is large and people may argue that if one lot of buyers leave off buying others will fill their places. This is doubtless true, but I would remind them that retribution often comes in the most unpleasant forms from the most unexpected quarters, and some fine day one of the worms so ruthlessly crushed will turn out to be a boa-constrictor in disguise.