Although I think this article is a little on the dramatic side, I totally agree with Jim that its time for Americans to take charge of our own working dog affairs. I also believe its time to get back to the fundamentals that made Schutzhund great in the first place; testing dogs for courage and hardness, and promoting the ones that have it. As far as the stick hits go, I’ve already heard fellow Schutzhund competitors say, “Who cares? What difference does it really make, someone is still going to win.” At this rate, I too believe that the stick hits will be gone from competition in two years time. Like the old saying goes, when you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything, which is really the larger issue at hand here.
In all fairness, I don’t believe that this can be blamed on the show dog community. It probably has more to do with the outside pressures to be politically correct and our leadership’s growing concern with the public perception of what Schutzhund is. But if show and pet people are indeed determining the path of our sport, it is only because we — the working dog people — are allowing them to. If the consensus is that show people care more about a dog’s conformation and movement than its skill and performance, then of course they’re going to welcome any rule change that makes getting a title easier. Since the working aspect of the dog isn’t their main focus, who can blame them for that? In the three decades I’ve been involved in the sport, this hasn’t changed. Conformation people want now what they wanted back then. If anything, I think I’ve seen an increase in the working ability of show dogs over the years, which is what I would like to see working dog people continue to support.
On the other hand, however, the mentality of most Schutzhund people has changed drastically in the last thirty years. What they want today is totally different than it used to be. Today, the number one concern of most of my working dog friends is points. That’s the main focus; how can I get another point? They are willing to abandon all the fundamentals of Schutzhund just to get a higher score. Thirty years ago, no one would have traded their real protection dog for a dog that could simply win a trial. If a dog wasn’t serious, nobody cared about the score it got anyways. But these days the score is all anyone cares about.
The point is that if we are to be the champions of the working dog, we have to take responsibility for the evolution our sport is undergoing. Its people like us, the people who are reading these articles, that are most concerned about the direction the sport is headed in. We have the most to lose here. So why not stand up and take charge while we still have the chance?