Kennel Blindness: The Breeder's Burden
Anne Roslin-Williams  ANTIC, Summer 1990


Blindness must be one of the heaviest burdens that a breeder can carry. It can hold them back from making progress while others move steadily forward, and can even bog them down completely so that they become immobile.

I am not referring to the distressing blindness that appears in some breeds of dogs, to which the experts give so much of their help and time.

No, it is the blindness of the breeder which can be placed in two categories, kennel blindness and the green-eyed blindness of jealousy.

Kennel blindness appears to be incurable and manifests itself in two forms, both damaging to the progress of the kennel.

In the first variety the owner's eyes, if examined carefully, show rose-coloured tinges. Another symptom is tunnel vision - for some curious reason they do not appear to be able to see further than their own dog.

Unfortunately, the end product of this disease can be seen in their back gardens where they point to their geese and ask you to admire their swans. It is no good pointing out that their dogs are extremely drab and unlikely to hit the high spots as they do not want to know. They are perfectly satisfied with the state of perfection they have reached and it is the judges who are blind, senile or corrupt, or all three combined in some instances.

The second manifestations of kennel blindness damages the breeder more than the actual breed itself. These are perfectionists who threw the rose coloured spectacles away years ago and consequently are dazzled completely by the bad points of their dogs. Therefore they cannot see the virtues for the faults and so will struggle on for years discarding outstanding specimens.

Sometimes these will fall into the hands of folks who can spot their potential and they may well become champions or prove to be valuable producers of champions themselves.

Kennel-blind breeders hamper their own progress, but maybe the really lethal sort of blindness to a breeder is caused by jealousy. These people put self-imposed blinkers on in case they should see someone else with a good dog, or even a better dog.

Jealousy seems to be a strange disease in that it is readily passed among those susceptible to it, especially by whispering behind raised catalogues. However, there are those with an inborn immunity to it who are actually glad to see other people with good dogs and realize that, long term, the breed will benefit from these dogs.

Talking to great breeders, I am struck by the fact that they, over and over again, can spot the potential in an animal which others would write off either for a fault, or because they would not allow themselves to acknowledge its virtues. And they are usually generous in their praise of other top breeders and genuinely good dogs.

This is why they stay at the top, despite whatever setbacks fate throws at them. Because they took of their blinkers years ago and see things clearly.