Everything I say below is my own opinion and not necessarily that of PBGVCA. 

This past week was the PBGVCA National Specialty.  I was show chair and also competed with my dogs in all of the events, which made for a crazy week but also a lot of fun. I really want to thank everyone who supported the specialty this year in any way. I’m really grateful for my committee and for everyone who stepped and volunteered wherever help was needed.  There wasn’t ever a time when we needed help that someone wasn’t right there for us. 

On Tuesday morning, we woke up to 6 inches of water completely surrounding the RV. We managed to get dogs out and the agility trial started. Things were just starting to feel under control, when someone asked to interrupt the trial to explain the emergency plan for the tornadoes that were heading our way.  Ummm…… what?  Seriously, how does anyone handle the stress of living in the midwest?  So we learned where the basement was and brought every one in from the RV area. This was a good lesson in the importance of having a portable crate available for every dog, since our travel crates are bolted into the RV. Luckily we did have enough, but that was more the result of rarely cleaning out the motorhome than of actual planning.  Everyone brought their dogs into the building for the afternoon, with one slightly angry cat hanging out in the club’s storage room backstage. Luckier yet, the tornados missed us. The weather was rough for the first few days, but got really nice for the outdoor activities. 

The performance entry was the biggest ever, which was  really exciting for me. It wasn’t that long ago that performance events were treated as an inconvenience or frivolous expense, but this year showed the importance of having an inclusive event more than ever before. For the first time in a while there were more than a handful of people at the show who I had never met before. I hope everyone had a great time and felt welcome.

While many of you may think of me as a “performance person”, what I really am is a PBGV person. I was just as thrilled to see the large breed entry as any of the other numbers and am very appreciative of Anouk Huikeshoven’s willingness to travel from the Netherlands at her own expense to judge sweepstakes. The class dog entry was the only one that seemed very low. I think a few factors are at play there. PBGV boys can have a really hard time living with girls in season, so many breeders, admittedly myself included, are opting not to keep males. I also suspect that as proportions are improving and more PBGVs have correct length of leg, that more males are exceeding the 15 inch maximum height called for in the breed standard. This is a tough one- on the whole I would prefer a taller dog with correct type and proportions to one who is long and low but we really need to find the happy medium between too much height and not enough leg. The final factor is likely that most breeders are still working with bitches who are POAG carriers, but carrier males are not in demand as potential stud dogs. 

I think the importance of dog breeders is often overlooked in our own community and definitely in the outside world, so my favorite part of the week was Friday’s educational events.  Cheryl Champion did a great job moderating the Breeder’s round table and I really appreciate Betty Barth, Janice Hayes, and Nick Frost agreeing to be on the panel with me and speaking so openly. I thought it was fascinating how similar most of our answers were on so many questions.  I realized after the fact that while we were all long time PBGV breeders, including a breeder-judge, a professional handler, and a dog trainer on the panel could have resulted in extremely different perspectives, but it really didn’t. 

Dr. Marty Greer’s talk, sponsored by the Health and Rescue Foundation was fabulous and helpful also. The tips for caring for newborn puppies were great and I hope they will be helpful soon (like really soon, if things go according to plan…). Dr. Greer also talked about the AKC Semen Preservation Bank. I think this program sounds really good in theory but have very serious concerns about trusting the future of our breed to an organization that is in the practice of registering mixed breed dogs as purebred PBGVs through the PAL program. Words matter, the truth matters, and I really wish this issue would be taken more seriously. 

On Sunday evening after spending a ridiculous amount of time rolling up Fast CAT fencing, we traveled to St. Clairsville for the hunt. The field is more than 2 hours from Roberts Centre, but luckily for us it’s in the direction of home. We had used this field in 2021 and it’s by far the nicest Beagle Club I’ve ever seen. We don’t hunt often anymore because of the time and financial commitment needed and honestly because there have been some major changes to the hunt program that I strongly disagree with. By changing the criteria for the Elite title from the original French requirements, the hunt committee had demonstrated a lack of understanding of the importance of heredity in dog’s working ability. At the same time, since many hunting PBGVs are “handled” by watching a screen from a GPS collar, there isn’t a lot of motivation to select for biddability or train for cooperation. I understand than many show breeders don’t prioritize the characteristics  that make a good hunting dog, even if I don’t agree with that, but the lack of understanding of these basic principles in the PBGV hunting community is hard for me to comprehend. 

Hopefully my next post will be a video of some of the fun that the Clever Hounds had this week!