Standard Amendment

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Standard Amendment

Message  Christine le Jeu 10 Jan - 18:35

Standard Amendment
The joint meeting of Staffordshire Bull Terrier Specialist Clubs was held on Saturday, July 26th, 1952, at Birmingham, following the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club's Championship Show.

The following represented their respective clubs:

East Midlands' S.B.T.C, Messrs. Adderson, Gibling and Greenwood.

Northern Counties' S.B.T.C. Mrs. Greenwood and Messrs. Ainley and Greenwood.

North Ireland S.B.T.C. Messrs. Gordon, Piesing, and Tryhorn.

North West S.B.T.C. Messrs. Crompton, Heargraves and Rawnsley.

Scottish S.B.T.C. Messrs. Adams, Findlater, and Smith.

Southern Counties' S.B.T.C. Messrs. Boylan, Cairns, and Tomlinson.

The Staffordshire B.T.C. Messrs. Dudley, Jack Dunn and Holden.

After a speech of welcome by Mr. Holden, chairman of the S.B.T.C., the meeting elected him to the chair.

Mr. W. A. Boylan, on behalf of the S.C.S.B.T.C., Tabled the following motion: " That this meeting agrees that the Height/Weight clause of the standard be amended to read 'Desired heights - Dogs 16 inches; Bitches 15 inches. Desired Weights - Dogs 38 lb; Bitches 34 lb.' "

"In making this proposition" said Mr. Boylan, "I am doing so after many years in the Breed, and after noting the tendency since the alteration of the first Standard of 15 to 18 inches, which were the original measurements, to the present one of 14 to 16 inches. My chief objection to the latter is that the tendency seems to be at the present to get a dog as short on the leg as possible, and at the same time carry the maximum weight allowed in the Standard. We see exhibits of less than 14 inches being placed first, whilst dogs of 16 1/2 inches or 17 inches are put right out, when they are, in fact, only as much over the maximum height as the winning short-legged ones are less than the minimum height. That to me is entirely unfair and is also leading away from the ideal fighting dog.

We have heard that some of our breed clubs have been in a certain amount of difficulty in having a reasonable number of exhibits that conform to the new Standard. Many of out oldest breeders are in agreement with this proposition and I will quote one. Mr Charlie Townsend states:
“The new move only fixes an ideal height and an ideal weight. With the sliding scale we are only perpetuating the lack of uniformity in the Breed. With the ideal size the judge can use his discretion, and that is a good thing. “

I had the privilege of putting this motion to a Special General Meeting of the Southern Club in March 1951, and have had plenty of time since to study its implications, and I am even more convinced than I was then that this will greatly benefit the Breed. Any of us who claim to have the interest of the Breed at heart must of necessity have in mind a picture of our ideal Stafford, and I ask what is YOUR ideal in size and weight? If it differs from my proposition, with all respect, I ask you to state it and fully discuss it, and so give all Stafford owners, both present and future, the considered opinions of names which will live in the Breed for ever. The decision of this meeting will be a future guide on the wisdom of our actions. If we fail now and leave things unsettled as they are, you can take it from me, Mr Chairman, and Gentlemen, that a move will be made which will advocate a revision of the Standard to the point of leaving the height clause out of the Standard altogether.

In seconding the motion, Mr. Cairns referred to the first Joint Meeting at Wolverhampton, where the present Standard was agreed, and said:

“ The outstanding thing about that meeting was the manner in which we really got down to the job, and I am sure that the same spirit will prevail at this meeting. Fundamentally we have all the same object in mind. To do our best for the Breed, our Clubs, and for our members. We have a great responsibility, and one which if we were not all sincere and deeply interested in we would have passed on to someone else”

Going back over my notes of that first meeting, I notice that the Southern Counties drew attention to the fact that the Kennel Club had expressed the opinion that we should state a desired height and weight in the new Standard. The S.C.S.B.T.S. general meeting had decided on heights of 15 and 17 inches, but in view of the Kennel Club suggestion, agreed “ Desired height – Dog 16 inches and Bitches 15 inches” This was put to the joint meeting. Mr. Jack Dunn, then representing Scotland, raised objection to this, and made a plea for “ the little 24 pounders ” which he knew around 1928; he did not say “ little 14 inches” presumably because these “ little 24 pounders” were tallish 16 inchers. That is how the 14 to 16 inches came about.

I cannot believe any Clubs’ membership accepted this without argument , but such was the standing of the respective delegates that these objections were over- ruled. I am equally certain that is this motion is tonight accepted by this meeting after listening to the discussion, the delegates here will be capable of getting their membership to accept the majority decision of this meeting.

The case for this motion has already been given the widest publicity, which will certainly have been followed closely by everybody here.

It was first stated in March 1951, at a special general meeting of the S.C.S.B.T.S. and subsequently dealt with at great length in succeeding numbers of ‘The Stafford’. A nationwide poll was organized, resulting in 183 votes being cast in favour to 6 against.
The important point, after the overwhelming majority, is that these votes came from all over the country; they were not confined to any one particular area.

Despite all the words written in support of the amendment, only one letter was received from the whole area north of London against!

As this is the only articulate objection to this proposition it is worth referring to. This letter states:

“If we adopt a rigid height and weight clause with one stipulated figure then scales and measurers would have to be adopted at every show”

It seems incredible that the simple statement ‘DESIRED Height’ could be interpreted by anyone to mean that all Stafford dogs, for example, must in the future be exactly 16 inches. It has been stated time and time again by countless experts that the desired height for a Stafford dog is 16 inches and the present proposition is only capable of one interpretation, which is that the dog most nearly approximating the desired height and weight shall receive the most marks when the height/weight clause of the Standard is applied in the ring. The writer of this letter is so wide of the mark, that it is the present day standard, which calls for weights and measurers to apply it correctly, whereas the proposed amendment allows that latitude which renders weights and measurers completely unnecessary.

If this interpretation has been propagated in the councils of those Clubs known to oppose the amendment it can only be said that their decisions have been arrived at on a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of the amendment and as such are valueless.

The writer continues: ‘ any responsible person in the Breed sees in the present Standard his ideal Stafford to be in the upper limits of the weight/height clause, then breed for it and tell the newcomers to aim for it’.

Would it unfair to interpret this as an argument in favour of the amendment?
If we are going to say that the correct height and weight for a Stafford dog is 16 inches and 38 pounds, what reasonable objection can there be to stating it in the Standard? We have reached the position where supporters and antagonists all agree that the ideal dog should be 16 inches and 38 pounds, can we logically continue with a Standard that discards dogs with a shade over 16 inches, whilst permitting others to be two inches under ?

The main reason for stating a height and weight at all is to establish the desired balance of a Stafford. If we show 16 inches and 38 pounds that puts the balance in a nutshell.
14 to 16 inches and 28 to 38 pounds have confused everybody. We have all seen 14 inch dogs shown, but what about their weights?
If anyone wants to lose some money try guaranteeing a class for under 32 pound dogs. Yet there were well filled classes for these when the minimum height was 15 inches! Think this over carefully. It can mean only one thing and that is that the present Standard has created so much confusion that it is not capable of correct interpretation by the judges and is therefore useless.

Opponents have argued that we are rushing out fences, and that sufficient time has not elapsed since the inception of the present Standard and the tabling of the amendment.
The original Standard was agreed in 1935, the present Standard in 1948. A period of 14 years, including seven years of war, when breeding was at its lowest ebb, and very infrequent dog shows were confined to small areas of the country. The period 1948 to 1952 saw a marvellous upsurge in the Breed, with an average of four new Champions each year, compared with four in four years in the pre war period, when there were two specialist clubs as against eight now!

Opponents did not argue we were rushing our fences when the present Standard was agreed, yet the rate of the development in the first seven year period, with phenomenal expansion in the last four years. These facts coupled with the first class organisation of the Breed today, eight specialist clubs, a breed magazine, 26 Championship shows a year, and countless other shows puts us in the best position ever to assess development in the Breed.

If it was in order to alter the 1935 Standard in 1948 after 10 lean years, it must be in order to propose this slight amendment now, particularly when no point has been argued more fully than this one. Every interested person has had ample opportunity to state his case, and what do we find? 183 voted in favour, 6 against, oceans of printed matter in favour, two letter (one of which was misleading) against!

If the clubs’ representatives are here to serve their members they must take these figures into account. Perhaps we shall hear during the discussion how each club got their opinions of their members; were these truly representatives of their membership?

It gives me great pleasure to second this proposition, because transcending all other considerations, the present Standard has led to complete chaos, and this confusion will have a very serious effect on the Breed until it is altered, as it surely will be, if not now then later.

One height and one weight states the desired balance of the animal in the simplest possible terms. It can only lead to a greater uniformity in the Breed, make satisfactory judging, and give the breeders, the backbone of the fancy, a fair crack of the whip!

The chairman then invited questions and asked for further clarifications on the point as to whether the proposed amendment did mean that dogs should have to be exactly 16 inches and 38 pounds. Replying, Mr. Boylan said that the proposition meant exactly what it stated; its object was to establish a desired height and weight, an ideal and this was capable of only one interpretation, and that was that the dogs most closely approximating this ideal, other points being equal, would win. This allowed latitude above and below the ideal. The chairman said this should satisfactorily clear up that point.

In the discussion, Mr. Hargreaves, N.W.S.B.T.S, said that he considered the present Standard satisfactory. He preferred a dog of 16 inches and 38 pounds, but thought it dangerous to permit dogs above 16 inches. Mr. Ainley, Northern Counties S.B.T.C, agreed with this view.

Mr. Boylan asked whether, in view of this, would either of the clubs concerned be prepared to tell their members owning dogs over 16 inches that they would have to leave their clubs, as those clubs were not prepared to cater for them?
Both answered in the negative.

Put to vote, the motion to agree the amendment was carried, 12 votes for and 8 against.

The following Standard amendment was also tabled by the Southern Counties S.B.T.S. :

That the section of the Standard concerning eyes be amended to read “ Round or medium size, not protruding and set to look straight ahead. From medium to very dark brown, the darker for preference, some may even appear black.”

This was carried nam. con.
North West S.B.T.C proposed that clubs supporting this meeting agree that travelling expenses of all delegates present be added together and that each club contribute an equal amount to the total expenses. It was explained that this was proposed with the object of helping the most distant clubs. After discussion the motion was withdrawn.

Scottish S.B.T.C. proposed that each club guarantee the breed classes in all championship shows in its area, and submit its own list of championship show judges to the promoting society.

It was stated on behalf of the Scottish club that this motion was made in hope that some agreement could be reached whereby they would be given an opportunity of putting up judges for shows in Scotland; at present they have not been given an opportunity to have a say in the choice of judges in their area.

Mr. Cairns stated that the Southern Counties had never put up a list of judges for any of the Scottish Championship shows and if all the English clubs acted similarly there should be no further difficulties. He was in sympathy with the Scottish club’s point of view and was sure his society would also support this view. However, whilst the motion was simple as applied to Scotland, certain difficulties could be foreseen when it came to a division of the English Shows.

The Scottish club proposed that clubs represented at this meeting agree to exchange club judging lists, or to include in their lists the names of specialist judges mentioned in the list of other clubs. The Scottish delegates said that this motion was linked with the above and arose from the same consideration. They would be satisfied if delegates would report back to their clubs and put the Scottish point of view to their members.

A vote of thanks was accorded the chairman for the able way in which he had conducted the meeting and he in turn thanked the delegates for their attendance and interest in the important matters which had been so thoroughly discussed.

Interesting

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