LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
         
Just my opinion.......                       
submitted by Dana Cline

 

12/17/04

Danelinks,

Hi, I just checked in to see if there was anything new at Danelinks and noticed the article written by Gina Jaeblon. I have always been of the belief that discussion and apposing opinions may do more than merely state ones views, but also may be useful tools to teach newcomers and invoke terrific lines of discussion. To that end, I would like to contribute my ideas on the subjects within this particular article.
 
First off, I believe the standard of the Great Dane is beautifully written and in need of no alterations. The standard builds within it's words a beautiful animal, true to it's title, "The Apollo of Dogs".  How is it that anything in life can be riddled with detail?  All things in life, intentional or otherwise, owe their recognition to the attention to refinement and detail.  One might consider the analogy between automobiles, much the same as comparing differences in dogs.  A Ford Pinto can get you to all the same destinations that a Jaguar can, BUT if you had the choice, which ride would you choose?  Which car would stimulate both your visual and inner senses?  Yes, the difference lies in the style, the attention to detail.  Not unlike dogs and standards, we all expect dogs to be functional, four legged and have the "generic" virtues shared by most four legged creatures, conventional equipment, however it is in the detail where each is set apart from another. A Great Dane is recognized as a Dane greatly impart to his incredible headpiece, unlike any other breed.  To argue that the head detail and the extreme refined qualities surrounding it are of little consequence and  full of small "details" does nothing but to place our breed into a category of insignificance and mediocrity.
The dog at the end of the competition that is standing "pretty" at least must possess enough quality attributes to qualify as pretty, however the sound dog that runs the best might never have one moment of brilliance or breed integrity in his stature, is it then correct to say because he moves the best he should win?  Should the dog that at least can "look the part" so readily be passed over?  I think not!
 
I believe that many new judges educate themselves, sometimes far too much, but where they fail is in the interpretation and recognition of a standard's desire through those very details to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. There are standards that speak more to "soundness" than to "type" and vice versa, but all standards speak to the necessities and needs of a dog to be functional, but not all guide us to a dog of extraordinary beauty. The Great Dane standard makes it very clear in it's priorities and assignment of importance to features and details, where it stands. The standard indeed serves us well, clearly defining and emphasizing in detail the importance of true Dane type, guiding us as breeders and judges alike in the selection process.
 
It would be ridiculous to ever make the statement that the true quality of a Dane rests solely on the correctness of his head, but on the other hand, it would be far more outrageous and irresponsible to make such a claim that his correctness of movement should ever define him as a Great Dane...it never has and it never will!  "A thing of beauty shall never pass into nothingness."  It's always about the details, small or large, especially so when you refer to the Great Dane, truly an artistic masterpiece!
 
As a judge, I believe it is the desire of most all others to serve the breeds well and do a good job, bringing to the table a blend of education , experience and certainly a natural eye for correctness. When one finds fault in the judging of another, it has little or nothing to do with the shortcomings of the standard. Some judges develop an eye for judging , some never do, only time will tell.  As in any other field, an individual's desire to rise above and be a good dog judge depends on what he is willing to contribute. To separate judges into categories such a breeders and all-rounders does not automatically define their ability to fully understand any particular breed better than another. There are those of us who have successfully committed their lives to this sport 24-7 as groomers , professional handlers, breeders and now judges.  Why is it that such a broad spectrum of experience in the sport, often times labels one as an "all-rounder",  all too often known not to be aware of breed specific requirements!  I can say with absolute certainty, with that investment in our sport, I have had more hands on experience than most any so called "Breeder Judge" could ever acquire.
 
Tradition is indeed a part of our standard and also an required unseen element;  how else could we ever be certain that the integrity of our breed would be protected!  Rarely is failure the fault of the blueprint, but rather the fault of the builder.  A breeder needs to rise to the challenge of breeding better dogs, according  to the standard, rather than to ignore it's details and desire to make changes to suit the shortcomings of their efforts, always bearing in mind that the standard and our breed finds no place for the ordinary.

Dana Cline

danacline@danelinks.com

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