Last weekend I was privileged enough to attend a conference concerning the whippet breed. It was held at the hotel, camping Vilsta outside the city of Eskilstuna. This place is great as dogs are practically allowed anywhere (accept the restaurant) in hotel rooms and the conference rooms and so on. This is also the same plac e as the big Whippet Club specialty was held at the end of July.
The conference was organised by Kicki Sandell (Zelig whippets) and Anna-Lena Bäckvall-Hallin (Balzac whippets) who are a part of the sub-committee for information and education under The Whippet Club committee. They did a great job and everything ran very smoothly and we had great food and so on.
Saturday morning we did an excercise so that we all got to know each other. Many of us attending the conference have known each other for many years but a number of people are quite new in the breed and was happy to put faces to names read in our magazine or in results and so on. Then we went straight over to the first item and this was lure coursing. Annika Janzon (Hot Isle whippets) who has competed very successfully with her whippets in this relatively new sport (became official about ten years ago). She explained point for point what a judge loos at when the dogs are running in the fields. Afterwards we had small group's discussions how we felt about lure coursing, have it turned in to a pure competition or is it at the same time a test for function? After small group's discussions each group presented their thoughts and we talked very long on the topic and the time table was already out of order!!! It did not matter as we had such giving discussions!!
After lunch we totally focused on two matters - whippet mentality and RAS (breed specific breeding strategies). RAS was formed by the kennel club and shortly it means that each breed club must decide (with its members) a plan with goals and actions how to breed whippets in a sound and healthy direction. Every 5 years the RAS document must be rewritten, evaluated and new goals and actions must be described. We talked in small groups very thoroughly about the current actions and what to change and what to keep.
A majority of the group were positive to "description of mentality" in whippets, meaning that an evaluator tests a whippet in different situations and then writes a small report of what he/she saw. We all agreed that this form of testing must be done according to the desires we have for the whippet breed. We also discussed what we all feel is a good mentality in a whippet and this off course meant a big variety of opinions. In my small group we all agreed that the whippets in Sweden in general have bigger "motors" and this is both positive and negative!
After the mentality section we went deeply in to the RAS document and talked about things like keeping inbreeding levels down, not over using certain dogs, a rule that conformation judges must attend a lure coursing meeting before being allowed to judge the breed and many more things that I don't have time to write about now...... We are hoping that Club committee will help to arrange meetings about RAS in different parts of Sweden before the final document concerning RAS will be finished!
In the evening we ate a lovely dinner!!
Sunday morning Linda Carlsson who breeds basenjis came and held a terrific talk and discussion about different health testings that we don't have in the whippet breed but exists in the basenji breed in most countries around the world although the focus is shifting between countries. She showed us the long list of considerations a basenji breeder must respond to and we immediately realised how small problems we have in our breed. She finally asked us the question, do you really want to enter the "swamp of health testing"???
After lunch Richard Sellin who is responsible to stay in contact with all the sighthound breeds as a representative of the Swedish Sighthound Club main committee talked about how to work with RAS in an effective way and came up with good strategies how to create an even better RAS document in the future.
Then we had an hour to talk about what each person would bring from the conference and also thoughts we felt we wanted to pass on to the Club committee!
Then we all went home and I think we were all very pleased about the weekend and felt sorry for those who could not attend. The atmosphere was really at the top all weekend and there was lots of laughter and exchanging of constructive thoughts!! We probably could have gone on for days if possible!!