Fluff, or Function?

Warning, if you are anti-hunting you need to take yourself somewhere else, now.

I had a lively discussion with another Borzoi person this weekend, once again visiting the topic of show dog vs. performance dog. There are too many times that I have heard the remarks about the “ugly coursing dogs”. Sorry, but the ugly dogs are the ones that win in the show ring and then are unable to even complete a JC, either due to indifference, aggression, or soundness issues. I don’t give a shit how much coat the dog has, or how many wins it has in the ring. If it can’t run, then if lacks essential breed type. The inability to run should be considered a major fault by breeders, but most are dazzled by Ch. so and so’s ring record, never looking any further.

The ultimate test of a sighthound is the hunting of live game. A lure course involving plastic bags driven by motors will never, EVER, emulate the track taken by a live jackrabbit attempting to escape three pursuing hounds. I am not anti lure coursing, I do it myself. My dogs love the game. But they do know that it is just a game, nothing more. They are not the least bit fooled into believing that three trash bags are real game. If you really want to know what your hound is capable (or not capable) of, then get yourself into the open field. See what your hound can do. Can your dog stay sound? Does your dog have the speed and agility to do the job?

I often hear the lament “I can’t afford it”. Well, if you can afford dog shows, lure trials and race meets (or any combination thereof), then you can afford to drive to the open field. Share a room with someone, bring a cooler, and be prepared to find out if your hound has what it takes. If you elect not to do so, please do not delude yourself into believing that lure coursing proves that your dog has what it takes. I have more than one dog that is hell on wheels when chasing plastic, but lacks the speed to compete on the open field. And I have one dog who is an AKC bench Champion, but will never be competitive in the open field due to a lack of both speed and agility. So the show ring proves very little, if anything.

The “ugly coursing dogs” comment is really quite stupid. Any Borzoi who can go to the open field and prove themselves is a thing of beauty. Form follows function, period. Borzoi came into being as predators, not show dogs, period. If anyone out there truly believes that coursing dogs are ugly, I would like to cordially invite you to bring your show dog on out to where I live. We will take your dog, and one of my best coursing dogs, and head out to hunt. I am sick of hearing denigrating remarks made by show people about performance dogs, so here is your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Who will be the first to step up to the plate? Prove to me that your “beautiful” show dog is more functional than my “ugly” coursing dog. Hell, I will even up the ante…………I won’t take my best coursing dog, I will take one of my middle of the pack dogs.

Borzoi were, and still should be, predators. They should be able to hunt. They should possess the speed, agility, endurance, soundness, drive, and courage to do the job at hand. They were not brought into existence to prance around a show ring. They were brought into existence to RUN. To course swift game by sight. There are show dogs that also course live game, they are few and far between. There are far more show ring freaks than there are honest dogs that could do a days work. And this will eventually be the downfall of our breed, as soundness goes by the wayside. I can easily foresee them in the future……… tall, hairy german shepherds. Crippled caricatures of their former greatness. And this saddens me.

I will continue to breed “ugly coursing dogs”. I will do my part to ensure that at least some of the Borzoi out there can continue to be sound, athletic, intelligent dogs. And there are others out there like me. Others who also believe that beauty is found in the field, traveling at a high rate of speed in full pursuit.

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7 Responses to Fluff, or Function?

  1. Sandra says:

    Amen sister,Of course you are preaching to the choir here. After attending lure trials since 1989, in 2001 I finally saved money, ( skipped other activities a while) and took my best OFC prospect out some, he won his first two breed hunts and placed 2nd in an 8 dog hunt at his third one. I was hooked. Can’t get out there often but I do like to get out there when I think I have something proper for it, it also helps me to check my eye and see if I really do still have it for the true speed test.

  2. Your dogs are far from ugly. And this post tells me you’re a perfect candidate for Patrick’s cool new “protest wear”.. http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2009/02/everyone-at-crufts-will-be-wearing-one.html

  3. Anonymous says:

    Amen, my friend!! Your dogs are very far from ugly. Unfortunately, the same issue exists for other breeds.How was the blast off?

  4. RLynn says:

    Absolutely! Although I can’t help but wonder, if you were at an OFC event – how in the heck you came across a Borzoi person who denigrated hunting!!

  5. It comes up as a point of discussion pretty regularly when you get a group of performance folks together. I think the barb has been hurled at most folks who think performance should be more important than the show ring, at least as far as proving dogs is concerned.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Beauty is as beauty does and watching those dogs do what they were bred to do this past weekend was the most beautiful sight to see!!! ColleenT

  7. Flatlander says:

    Right on Sherita,A quality post about some quality hounds. I too value function and form in that order, as both are needed to make a quality borzoi. Nothing sends me goosebumps more than watching a truely fantastic run on live game. That concentration, desire, heart, and desire that comes from a truely fit and functional hound is breathtaking. Too many ring judges just don’t get it.

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