January 09, 2005
Griffon: Gundog Supreme---The history and story of how to save a breed, by Joan Bailey.
There are dozens of famous dog and birddog books. Of course there are a few stand-outs (you should definitely read widely if you want to train or know your dog). But thanks to breeder Joan you can read a truly unique dog book: the only dog book ever to cover the problems and failings of a breed. It's the most controversial and 'inside' dog book ever, I bet. It's about a nifty type of dog, an 'all rounder', a member of the elite but friendly *versatile* category of dog: the Griffon.
"Gundog Supreme" is riveting reading for anyone---it's dramatic, personal, even a tear-jerker! If you wonder why a dog book needs to have a lawyer look it over (as per the preface of this book), you'll know why after reading this. It's a candid report on the serious troubles a dog breed club faced with its dog going downhill fast. Starts with how the dog was created; its highpoints; its intro to the US; then outlines how the trouble started.
It's a great distillation of the purpose and spirit behind those who work for dogs. Health, stability and function: these are the keys, the foundations. They're also the hardest qualities to make sure that puppies possess. And these basics were all in trouble with the Griffon.
One club found a way out. A desparate measure. I won't spill the beans. You have to read it to find out.
The one fault with the book is its one-sided nature. But it is quite clear that it is a personal story. My own subsequent investigation of the situation showed that the rescue method was perhaps arguable. But that's second-guessing. This book puts you on the frontline of an emergency. Sure, it's personal! You get the feel that if someone else wanted to stake their career and reputation on the quality of a breed, they could have, but no other club dared to. Now, many people quit the club. I'm sure some had good reason, but you do get a sense of the commitment to the dog above all else from these people. And it now looks like the dogs are far better off. Quite a tale! As good as any potboiler!