I thought the issue of coat color had faded away. Silly me. Having been out of the breed ring for some time, concentrating instead on obedience and field activities, I recently decided to become a spectator at several premier shows in my area. And what did I see? Norfolks so heavily and obviously colored and scissored that they resembled a new entry in the Terrier Group -- perhaps Colored and Scissored Terriers (CST's) would be a good name.
The late Joan Read used to say that there's no such thing as a bad color on a good dog. It's too bad that more of today's owners, handlers and judges don't subscribe to this old maxim. If the day has come that the breed cannot be shown unless it is under the constant care of a cosmetologist, then we have indeed lost something very special.
So what do we do except complain ringside? I think it's time for OWNERS to take the responsibility for telling their handlers that they want their dogs presented in a way that conforms to the breed standard, and stick to their guns. I also believe that owner-handlers must stand their ground while continuing to show their own correctly groomed and presented dogs.
I think it's time that the breed's PARENT CLUB stepped up efforts to communicate with the AKC and with judges, telling all parties that we have a perfectly good standard, which allows a variety of colors and shades of colors, and which penalizes scissoring and artificial shaping, and we want to stick to it. Individuals selected to judge Specialty Shows should be emphatically instructed to penalize scissored and colored dogs.
ANTA's independent status as an educational organization presents us with a forum for teaching (if not preaching) to the AKC, to judges, to handlers and owners about the importance of retaining the breed's inherent characteristics as a working terrier. We should take advantage of that forum.
Incidentally, this is not an anti-grooming diatribe. A well-groomed Norfolk in proper coat is something special to look at. However, let's put away the dye, the chalk, and the scissors and concentrate on breeding for proper coats which need neither color enhancement nor artificial shape to make them attractive.
ANTIC, March, 1998
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