Following the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, CNN’s John Berman and Alisyn Camerota spent a few moments on the show, and our letter (which follows) is in response. Watch the segment first:
To John Berman and CNN:
In the event that your ignorance of dog shows in general, and Poodles in particular is genuine, a few facts to enlighten you:
The uniquely shaved areas and pompons of hair on a Poodle are a direct result of the breed’s sporting heritage as a retriever, a job it can still perform today. Hair was left long over the Poodle’s joints, head and chest as a means to protect the brain and vital organs from cold water, while the hindquarter and face were shaved to enhance swimming through water by reducing resistance, and minimizing the chance of water debris getting tangled in the coat. Over the centuries, people embellished the coat to be more stylized because it’s what we humans seem to do, but the Poodle coat you ridiculed is rooted in purpose.
So are dog shows.
For at least two centuries, people have gathered in pubs, tents, and farm kitchens to evaluate each other’s dogs both for their ability to do the job for which their breed was created, and for their potential as breeding stock. From putting food on the table and protecting livestock, to herding sheep and ridding the farm of vermin, dogs have been helpmates to man. Over time, formal settings – namely, dog shows – were organized to assess these dogs. Dog shows have evolved to be social and spectator events, but their purpose has never changed: Appraise a dog’s adherence to its breed standard, and subsequently, its value in a breeding program to create the next generation of its breed.
As an alleged reporter who has covered stories from Iraq to Lebanon, you are presumed to have an insatiable desire to learn the truth and report facts, but your appalling coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show smacks of an opinion rooted in ignorance, or worse, an indication that you have bought into the radical animal rights message, an agenda that will ultimately bring about the demise of the precious bond between humans and their dogs.
We challenge you to do your job the way it’s supposed to be done. Report on the work that purebred dogs are doing that help save endangered species, make life tolerable for a military veteran, or bring comfort to the sick. Learn why some beloved dog breeds are on the brink of extinction, and then shadow a heritage breeder to learn how these people are providing the next generation of purpose-bred dogs who make a difference in the lives of the people who need them. We think we can change your mind.