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The Breeding Of Dogs As A Creative Art
Jimmy CoxThe impulse to create which is so urgent an attribute of the human spirit can and does find its release in the breeding of dogs. In his ability to ordain the existence of a new organism, the breeder realizes a power that is but little short of godlike.
Bringing together the germ plasma of two dogs from which to mold a third to his own liking, he becomes a veritable sculptor in living flesh. Any critical verdict about his creature as a work of art must rest upon whether or not the breeder has employed the right materials in the right manner best to approximate the breeder’s ideal dog of any specific breed.
For a fine dog may well be a work of art. However, if the dog be merely the result of the unplanned, chance union of the parental gametes, the words art and artistry can hardly be applied to its production. The person who passes as breeder of such a one is not a breeder at all but the possessor of the dam at the time of her copulation with the sire.
It is futile to deny that good dogs do so arise. Indeed, it was not until recent years that enough was known of the reproductive processes to permit of more than merely the mating of the best available male to the best available female and trusting to luck (and her excellence was considered as of only minor moment). Much credit is due to the practical breeders of those earlier years who did, indeed, choose their breeding stock carefully and mate the best to the best and who utilized to the extent of their ability such empiric knowledge of the breeding as was available. All of the older breeds of domestic livestock were so developed.
We have yet many worlds to conquer in practical genetics, but enough is known to enable us to proceed with our breeding operations with a confidence impossible even fifty years ago. The vast improvement and greater uniformity of the various breeds of dogs is an earnest that the breeders are utilizing their new knowledge.
What a breeder seeks to produce, the ideal he formulates, is self-expression. His choice of a breed with which he works is a reflection of his personality. The emphasis he places upon soundness, or head, or coats, in the choice of his breeding stock, declares his own nature. He who would achieve beautiful arbitrary markings and color at the cost of honest structure is a different kind of person from him who prefers a correctly made dog.
And it is in this self-expression, this fulfillment of the creative urge that lays the joy of breeding dogs. The mere possession of a dog may be achieved by purchase, gift, or theft, and much pride, pleasure, and companionship may result from such possession. However, the thrill of achievement, the emotional satisfaction of the impulse to create, cannot be achieved by the mere possession of a dog, no matter how excellent a one, that somebody else has bred. That joy is the breeder’s.
Just as the painter of a great picture, selling it to some parvenu, retains the emotional effect that arises from self-expression, so the breeder of a good dog, who sells his masterpiece to a mere dog show mug-hunter, does not along with the dog sell the satisfaction and joy of having bred him.
Insofar as the breeder formulates an ideal in his own mind of what he wishes to produce, and insofar as he bends his efforts as a breeder to the realization of that ideal, just insofar is he a creative artist. His medium of expression is the living protoplasm of the animals with which he chooses to work.
Fine dogs of whatever breed are things of beauty. The consistent production of them through the intelligent employment of the laws of heredity to perpetuate the desirable in the ancestral germ plasma s and to eliminate the undesirable is artistry of a high order. And it is as an art, with a full awareness of it as such, and only so, that the breeding of dogs should be seriously undertaken.
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