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Racing 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


For casual consumption only; not to be ingested without the proverbial grain.         

  LISA WARREN

 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR DACHSHUNDS

In  the last issue of "The Dachshund Review" there was a history and discussion of the recent events surrounding the controversial emergence of commercial Dachshund racing, ( "Say No...To Dachshund Racing", by Sidney Stafford and Trudy Kawami, "The Dachshund Review", Fall, 1995).  The article was very well written and conveyed both the intelligence and passion of the writers along with the facts of this unfortunate development.  It also did a fine job of presenting the problems that are quite likely to evolve if we do not succeed in preventing commercial racing from becoming widespread and popular.  As the writers point out, it is of particular importance to educate Dachshund pet owners regarding the pitfalls associated with any commercial exploitation of the breed. If one looks at the AKC registration numbers for September, 1995, the disconcerting figure of 3,488 stares back from the list.  That is 3,488 Dachshunds registered with the AKC for that month.  The number of litters registered for the same month is, get ready, 1,890.   That's litters of Dachshunds, registered in one month.

And may I remind you that these figures represent only the litters and individual dogs that AKC is counting, leaving out all of those that go unregistered for whatever reasons. The mind boggles, then recoils; at least mine does.  Now, we know that those of us involved with breeding for the AKC sponsored activities of obedience, tracking, agility, show, and den and field trialing are not producing anything near those numbers of animals.  So there must be a tremendous volume of Dachshund breeding activity going on in this country that is aimed strictly at the pet market, and heaven knows the capacities of rescue efforts are stretched by all of this as it is.  If commercial Dachshund racing were to become an established activity, surely the darkest and most ominous of all of the possible results would be an upsurge in the number of rescue dogs, as we can be sure that people who would begin breeding dogs for this purpose would not be likely to welcome them back into the fold if they failed to succeed at the track, or when they had grown too old to race.  So, I have nothing but respect for the people who became impassioned over this issue, banded together to pool their energies and talents, and made a difference for the protection of our beloved breed. There is one point, however, upon which I must disagree with many of the crusaders in this very noble cause, and I hope that we can agree to disagree, as I am presenting here nothing more than a point of view, but it is one that I know is shared by  others who own and love Dachshunds.  The article to which I refer stated that "..all Dachshund racing, under any circumstances, should be stopped. It is terribly sad that we should have to give up something [i.e. fun racing at club events] that brought fun to so many, but there cannot be a double standard.  Those of us active with our dogs in....AKC events cannot pursue an activity, and then tell pet owners that they cannot do the same thing."   Well, actually, if you think about it, isn't that exactly what we do, and with very good reason, when it comes to breeding?  Now, I think you will agree that the term "double standard" carries a connotation of unfairness, of a difference in what is acceptable for one group but not for another, but, (and this is important,) a difference that cannot be logically defended.  So I do not think that the term applies to commercial racing versus fun races any more than it applies to commercial and backyard breeding versus breeding within a carefully planned program where breed improvement is the primary objective.  And if there were a true double standard being applied in this Dachshund racing issue, then surely we would have to view all AKC lure coursing events as unacceptable since they consist of essentially the same activity that occurs at the Greyhound track, minus the betting, minus the profit motive, and minus the exploitation of the dogs.  But in those "minuses" lies the logically defensible difference between what is acceptable in one case but not in the other. I have an intellectual problem with any rule, regulation or law that restricts or punishes the innocent in an effort to curtail the activities of the not so innocent.  Would it be fair, for instance, to outlaw all motorcycle clubs because of the unlawful actions of a few renegade motorcycle gangs?  And since the bad guys are unlawful to begin with, what makes us think that a restriction on everyone is likely to be of even passing consideration to them?  I could site other examples here, but I hope the point is made: it is unfair to impose a ban on Dachshund clubs who want to continue the innocent, fun filled pursuit of racing, one that has a tradition of being the high point of laughter, joy and camaraderie on a light hearted day with the Doxies, simply because the potential exists for abuse by people who have something other than the best interests of the breed at heart.  Add to that unfairness the fact that the commercial racing promoters are quite unlikely to even be aware of the fact that the Greater Western Podunk Dachshund Fanciers' Association has given up its fun races.  And consider this: would knowing it influence them to contemplate, even for a moment, abandoning their profit motivated activities?  I think that's about as likely as it is that the puppy mill operators who supply the pet stores are going to heed the Humane Society's call for a stop to all dog breeding.  And if the local Dachshund club does sponsor racing on its annual fun day, doesn't that offer an outlet for those pet owners who have learned about racing and now want to share this bit of pleasure with their dogs?  Doesn't the club now have a way to attract these people into an environment where their overall Dachshund awareness might be heightened?

We live in a culture that is currently imbued with a concern for "political correctness."  (Excuse me, but am I the only one who thinks that the term "politically correct" is an oxymoron?)  Words that have heretofore been quite acceptable and very useful are now deemed demeaning or divisive in some connotations, and one must be careful when using them not to be misunderstood.  Innocent compliments are subject to interpretation as sexual harassment; any acknowledgment of existing differences between the races or the sexes might be met with derision, indignation or ire.  In this climate it is easy to go too far in an effort to appear "correct",  and I think that perhaps that is what has happened in this case, particularly if this ban is expected to be observed forever, and not just until the dust on the track has settled, so to speak.  The writers of the racing article are right: information and the education of the pet owning public are the keys to preventing commercial Dachshund racing from developing into a continuing problem.  Surely those pet owners who are well and properly educated will be able to discern the difference between racing that exploits the Dachshund and puts Dachshunds at risk, and racing that celebrates so many of the breed's sterling qualities.  

 

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Lisa and Andrew Warren, all rights reserved