AKC GAZETTE JUNE 2011
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column
As has been stated before, the Cardigan is not an easy breed to learn. This is one reason finding a very good mentor is so important. Yet a top mentor does not necessarily mean only someone very knowledgeable about the breed but one who can educate as well—one who can explain the standard, the living dog, the goals of a responsible breeder, the need to understand faults and virtues when looking for a stud dog, plus any number of other elements—and do it all in a way the student can easily grasp
A good mentor will also continue her own education by regularly attending breeders’ and judges’ seminars at the national and at regional specialties. She will attend health and reproductive seminars. She will expand her own knowledge so that she can in turn correctly expand the knowledge of her own students. She does not rely only on her personal experiences, though they are highly informative, but also on the experiences of other trusted breeders in order to present as complete a picture of the Cardigan as is possible.
She will mentor at ringside, so the student can see what the mentor is indicating and explaining. She will critique the student’s young dog against very good examples of the breed, so the student may understand both the good qualities of her own dog and the elements that can use improving— improvement that comes, one hopes, in the next generation, if the correct breeding partner is selected.
A good mentor is not necessarily always the best-known breeder or exhibitor. There are older breeders who may have ceased being as active in the ring or whelping box but whose deep knowledge remains invaluable to a newer breeder-exhibitor.
A good mentor understands that she should not attempt to make a clone of herself, and that the student must learn to think for himself and to make his own decisions, which may not mirror the mentor’s. A mentor’s influence may play a large or small role in the student’s decisions down the road, but it does play a role.
Additionally, a student should not limit himself to the input of only one mentor. He should talk with several breeders he respects. A good mentor understands this. And the student should understand that not all mentors will be in agreement about what constitutes a correct Cardigan.
There is one “mentor” who knows everything about the breed and should always be relied upon to direct the student: the standard, as written by the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America. Breed mentors, too, should be guided by this document, because it is, as is so often stated, the “blueprint” of our breed.
While mentors will have developed their own ideas about how to attain that blueprint, they should also explain that they have not attained it. No one has. We are all working toward breeding Cardigans to perfectly match the standard, and yet we never will.
First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, June 2011.
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