Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:02

Winston Churchill and the SBCA


Having witnessed the recent bloodletting at the AGM of the SBCA while attending the 2014 National it struck me that the Club was indeed a democracy. Upon our return to Ontario, I pondered the significance of that fact and was reminded of what Winston Churchill had to say about democracy:

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." 

Of course Mr. Churchill never had to suffer through anything like a SBCA AGM. While known as the pugnacious man who stood up to the Nazi hordes, Winston had no illusions about the common man:

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." (An elitist perhaps? Certainly. The man was born in Blenheim Palace for Pete's sake!)

and "Where there is a great deal of free speech there is always a certain amount of foolish speech."

Had he been at the recent meeting and seen the level of bitterness displayed he might have said:

"I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents."

Some of the behaviour at the meeting was rude and insulting. Amateurs! Mr. Churchill knew how to really insult someone:

"There but for the grace of God, goes God." 

And, Lady Astor to Churchill: "Winston, if you were my husband I would flavour your coffee with poison." Churchill: "Madame, if I were your husband, I should drink it."

But seriously folks, what advice would old Winston have for our democratic club today? Might he say:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

"I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

"Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room."

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

And while Churchill didn't say this, he likely would have agreed with it: "In a democracy, people get the government they deserve. " ~ attributed to Alexis de Touqueville.

I interpret this to mean that if a club votes in a board in a fair election and then lets one unelected faction gut that board and strip it of important powers, then that club forfeits its democratic rights.

Winston's last word on the matter?

"When the war of the giants is over, the war of the pygmies will begin."

Welcome to Groundhog Day, SBCA style!


December 2014 - I am pleased to report that the membership at large, following the advice of the Board, voted down the motion to present all the National proposals at the AGM. Whatever the motivation for that motion, it was unworkable and potentially very expensive. Good sense has prevailed despite the odds!





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Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:56

Let's Get Moving! - by David Forrest

David Forrest is both an old and a new St Bernard fancier. He started in the breed in the mid-60s as both a breeder and a handler ( "The" kennels as in The Khan), but other priorities led him out of active participation in the 70s. Flash forward to the present era and David has renewed his interest in St Bernards. With his wife Sonya, he has attended the past half-dozen Nationals. This time gap has provided him with a rather unique perspective on the progress, or otherwise, of the breed over the past half-century.

David was moved to analyze and articulate his observations and synthesize them in his recent publication "Let's Get Moving!"; made available for the first time at the 2014 SBCA National in northwestern New York. This 55-page work is beautifully written and well illustrated with charts and photos. (Disclaimer: a couple of Benbaron dogs are included.)

As one might logically deduce from the title, David "covers a lot of ground" in this important piece. 

Now some may take exception that someone who has been away for so long has little right to criticize. However, they would be dead wrong to dismiss what he writes without reading it. I would argue that this piece is perhaps the most serious work on the breed since the publication of the "Illustrated Commentary" and "St Bernards from the Stoan Perspective". David provides a clear structure to his work; takes time to flesh out his arguments; and supports them with data and graphs. Clearly, he has invested a great deal of time and care to produce this work. Fanciers should take the time to read it and consider it.

His bias, if he has one, might be that he sees the situation a little bit too much from the point of view of a handler. David expects a high level of handling competency at important shows and he laments that he rarely finds it nowadays. Dog shows without enough "show", perhaps? I found the work to be thoughtful and honest.

As a breeder and club member for some 40 years, I hold that far too much energy is expended on the politics of the breed and far too little on breed education. "Let's Get Moving!" helps to address that imbalance.  Please get yourself a copy of "Let's Get Moving!" from:


David Forrest

288 County Road 519

Stockton New Jersey 08559


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