We are living in a changeable world. Politically the last 25 years have been characterised by very big changes: New countries have emerged, others have dissolved and new state formations have appeared.
This has of course affected the FCI and our whole organisation. We have become many more members and before long we will probably pass a total of 100 full member countries, associated countries and contract partners. And not many years ago we were “only” 70 countries.
As most people will know, our statutes are based on the principle “one country – one vote” and this principle will surely be challenged in the coming years, as the rapid increase in the number of members with a lot of quite small kennel clubs is diluting the influence of the large and middle-sized countries; those countries that pay for almost the entire running of the FCI (the 5 largest contributors pay more than 1/3 of the total income of the FCI).
Also in other areas, the FCI and the dog sports are undergoing changes. It is not possible for us – if we wanted – to live in our own little world without the public’s critical eyes on the things that we are occupied with. Both in the individual countries, but also internationally, there is focus on our activities and on how we perform them. The dogs’ health is no longer just a matter for us. Public authorities, green movements, animal welfare organisations and others watch us with critical eyes and legislation increases in areas connected with the dogs’ health and welfare. We are no longer “allowed” to develop the dog breeds in a direction that affect the dogs’ possibilities to live a healthy and normal dog life, to be able to walk and run effortlessly, to be able to breathe normally and to be able to mate and give birth to puppies – without the necessary presence of a veterinary surgeon. And this is – in my opinion – a positive thing. We can be quite certain that if we do not keep our house in order we shall experience interference from the competent authorities.
Mentally and physically healthy, well functioning, breed typical dogs require well educated and skilled judges – both in the show ring, at hunting tests, field trials, at working tests and at the agility courses. Judges who know the breeds, but also judges who do not get “carried away” by some fashion trend within a breed and interpret the breed standards to the detriment of the dogs’ welfare. The necessary change in these areas is in progress and in many kennel clubs and in the FCI this area has constant focus. In many countries it is compulsory to have a briefing of the judges before the competitions start, where the attention is concentrated on the dogs’ health and welfare. In a number of countries they even have prepared “Breed Specific Instructions” for the judges. Lately, in connection with the FCI European Dog Show in Geneva, I experienced that especially this area was dealt with very thoroughly and seriously.