I have been waiting for the new Tassels & Tales magazine to come. This is one of the best breed club publications in the US. It has interesting features, full color, reasonable ad rates and an overall quality seldom found in a volunteer endeavor. The current editor puts a lot of herself into this magazine and for the most part hers is a thankless job. The Bedlington Terrier Club of America is a contentious organization. Trying to please the varied and disparate personalities that make up this club would try Job’s patience. This is also a private organization, with rules and protocols governing its existence and who is allowed to be a member. The organization can also spin the annual statistics to make any dog of their choosing named top dog each year. Sometimes these rules confound the thinking person. We are members of this club and proudly. We love the breed, although we will probably never breed a litter, and have devoted a lot of effort to learning all we can about its history and how to apply its standard.
So when I saw the cover of the current magazine featuring two photos of winning dogs from last show season I was struck by the audacious nature of the claims. The captions proclaim the dog, Ch. Versailles of Celtic Odyssey, to be the #1 Bedlington dog and the other proudly crowns, Ch. Boardwalk’s Bling Bling, the #1 Bedlington bitch. What you can honestly say about the two dogs is that both were shown by handlers, somewhat a rarity in the breed. Most Bedlingtons are owner handled and these owner/handlers are among the most competent in the dog show game. Most are expert groomers and many are lifers in the breed. Both dogs represent years of careful breeding decisions and are arguably some of the finest dogs produced by their respective lines. What neither one represents is the top dog, or bitch for that matter, in the breed. The club adds a line, barely readable, at the bottom of the cover stating: “#1 Bedlington Terrier Dog and Bitch in Breed Points by the Bedlington Terrier Club of America”. Club being the operative word. What the line at the bottom of the cover should say is: #1 Bedlington Terrier Dog and Bitch in Breed Points Owned by a Member of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America”. In dog showing, membership in a breed’s national club may provide you with support and help you sell puppies, but can’t over-ride the naked tally of wins and loses.
Calculating the ranking of a dog today is simple. Several dog magazines publish these statistics monthly and they all center around the very simple principle of how many dogs were beaten in each win. There are two types of rankings people pay attention to: breed and all-breed. Breed rankings reflect how many dogs of its own breed a given dog has defeated. For example: if there were eight Bedlingtons entered on Saturday at a show and a certain dog won Best of Breed it would be given seven breed points. You count every dog entered, either sex, excluding yourself. The all-breed ranking is determined by group placements and how many dogs of every breed is defeated by the group placement. No matter how complex this all sounds it boils down to one indisputable fact. If you beat more dogs in a single show year you are the top dog in your breed.
Looking at the statistics recorded for the 2009 show season, the pictured #1 Bedlington Terrier dog won 287 points. This means this very deserving dog beat 287 dogs throughout the year. Similarly, the pictured #1 Bedlington Terrier bitch finished the year with 112 points. But on the same list is another Bedlington who finished the year with 416 breed points, 17 more points than the combined total of these two dogs. This was 129 more Bedlingtons defeated than the so-called #1 dog and 304 more the cited #1 bitch. By any system of logic this unmentioned Bedlington is clearly the top Bedlington for the 2009 show season. But this dog’s owners aren’t members of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America. In ancient Egypt, when one of the pharaohs fell out of favor, his face was removed from public monuments. In the BTCA if you aren’t allowed, or don’t care to be a club member, your dog is ignored in the statistics. History has still recorded the names of all the pharaohs and the names of the real top Bedlington terrier in 2009 is recorded also.
While technically true the dog pictured on the cover is the #1 Bedlington dog, by virtue of the true top Bedlington being a bitch, there is no way to view the pictured bitch as the #1 anything. Ignoring the real #1 Bedlington doesn’t mean she’s not there and is demeaning to everyone associated with the pictured dogs. Surely neither breeder, nor any of the owners, can state they are #1 with a straight face. These people are veteran exhibitors and fully understand when they have won and lost. In the 2008 show season, the cover dog was the breed’s true #1, defeating the 2009’s winner by a few points. If someone cannot win honestly, making up an artificial way to make them a winner doesn’t fool anyone. People who aren’t BTCA club members and know nothing of the internal politics that seems to be inherent in this organization can look at the record of wins and determine for themselves which dog was the real #1 Bedlington.
So here’s a virtual pat on the back for a job well done to World Winner/Amer. Ch. Velvety Angel Eyes. The liver bitch, with the brown nose, who is the one true number one Bedlington Terrier for 2009. She is a member of an elite club where the only requirement for membership is to be on top of the impartial leader board for your breed. No magazine cover can convince the knowledgeable fancier of anything different.