Judging in Tense Times
World Tension and the Dog Show
Revised December 2011.
It seems that every-other trip I make to Taiwan coincides with renewed national (or nation-to-nation) turmoil. That island country was once known by foreigners as Formosa (“beautiful island”), and I still catch myself using that name, a holdover from the days I was a star geography student in the 1940s. In the late 1940s, a great civil war in China was going on, but Americans’ attention was still more focused on WW-2 and the aftermath of the conflict between Japan and the “allies” led by the U.S. China had been ruled more by regional warlords than by a strong central government, despite efforts by the great leader Sun Yat-Sen and claims of unity by some of its strongest personalities. Perhaps the biggest force pushing China’s status from a country to a nation was the Japanese invasions, especially the merciless bombing of the civilian population of its largest city, Shanghai. Chiang Kai-Shek was able to at last rally the half-billion of scattered, semi-isolated Chinese as well as many Tibetans, Mongolians, and Manchurians and (with the help of such as General Claire Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” and a few others) push the Japanese invaders back enough to discourage them from Part 2 of their master plan. Which was, to conquer China and use its natural resources including hordes of people to mount an overwhelming attack on the U.S. and eventually accomplish world conquest.
Chiang was definitely considered less tyrannical and bloodthirsty than his major rival, Mao Tse-Tung (later spelling: Zedong), and democracy or the concept of what would later be known as “human rights” seemed more likely to emerge from his camp. The Communist forces under Mao prevailed, however, which led to permanence up to now of the Red socialist empire. Another part of the success of fending off the Japanese had been intelligence reports from Westerners inside China. One was the Baptist missionary and then U.S. Army military intelligence officer, Captain John Birch, whose name and life became the symbol for America’s most noteworthy anti-Communist society. Birch became the first casualty of the Cold War when he was murdered by Mao’s soldiers who were under orders to purge the land of all foreigners and possible opponents to Communism. Chiang was forced into departing China and regrouped on Formosa, known to its inhabitants as Taiwan. In effect, he brought a great part of China with him, including the flag with its sun symbol, and untold treasures of historic and intrinsic value. I saw a small fraction of these in my day at the national museum in Taipei, the capital. He was considered the legitimate leader of China, though in exile by the Reds, and when the U.S. reorganized Japan (which had occupied Taiwan until the end of WW-2), the seat of government for China was considered by all to be in Chiang’s hands.
This “new” country, made up of aboriginal Polynesian-descent natives and centuries of ethnic Chinese immigrants, was so influenced by the new wave of fleeing Chinese and the post-war recognition by the world, that it was referred to as “The Republic of China”. R.O.C. is still the official name today, although one of the political parties is pressing to change it to Taiwan, its parenthetical other name. The R.O.C. has developed into the most democratic republic in Asia (perhaps other than Japan in some ways), while Red China (“the Mainland” or “Peoples’ Republic of China — PRC”) has always been noted for repressive regimes and slower development of such capitalist trappings as technology, freedom of individual expression, and standard of living. Both regimes claimed legitimacy as the true representative of a China that would hopefully be united in the future. It is largely because Chiang listened to wise counselors who advised him to do away with the prohibition of other political parties, that freedom and democracy has flourished on Taiwan—along with a tremendously thriving and growing economy admired in all of Asia.
Mainland China is still the largest Communist country in the world. For those readers too young to remember or to have had old-fashioned civics classes in high school, the central doctrine of socialism is “I will take your earnings, give you back a little, spread the rest as I see fit, and restrict your liberties.” The central principle in a democracy is “Every person is a part of the whole, but rule by majority opinion (even if a mob!) will take precedence over individual liberty.” The essential nature of a Republic is to give much credence to democratic ideals while preserving the God-given and inalienable rights of individuals and minorities. The above definition of socialism does not sound different from that of any other dictatorship or feudal system, does it? The difference is that it is enforced not by a single king, colonel, emperor, or “president-for-life”, but by a small clique of people who join to keep power in a few hands. Socialism is the rule of the State (the country’s elite establishment) over every facet of your life, and is the left wing of a vulture while fascism is the right wing of the same monster. Communism is merely socialism with bloody hands. But make no mistake: Communism and Capitalism are not opposites. In fact, in later years I have seen Communist countries like Russia and especially China embrace capitalistic procedures to where the latter, at least, is a more poweful economic force in American (and other) lives. Just try to buy something not made in China!
Taiwan’s Constitution guarantees the right of the populace to a plebiscite, among other ideals that we find in our own U.S. Constitution. The right to self-determination is even a tenet of the UN Charter, and someday I may comment on that right being withheld from the people of Kashmir and Kurdistan. Taiwan was established as a nation in 1911, even before Arizona was admitted to the Union. On many banners and documents, this year in Taiwan is 91 rather than 2002. While this island was “originally” settled by Polynesians, as far back as any archaeological or other historical evidence can tell us, explorers and tradesmen from China and other places even before they were identifiable as countries, sailed to these shores. Here they intermarried with locals to a limited extent, but assimilated fully to become a new national entity. For many years, Japan occupied and claimed the island. After the war and the liberation of Formosa-Taiwan from Japan, the Allies gave Chiang’s Koumintang (KMT) party the mandate to govern. This was 1945, four years before the establishment on the mainland of the PRC, which by then had finished consolidating power over the few remaining regional tribal authorities, and had ousted Chiang. In 1971, the overwhelmingly leftist UN invited PRC into membership, in place of the ROC. A terrible move, but typical of that body.
Another post-war event of note was the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which pressed Japan into officially admitting it no longer had sovereignty over the island of Taiwan. The treaty stated that ultimately the country’s status would take “the wishes of the Formosan population into consideration”.
Two diametrically different developments in recent years have been noted in Taiwan. The pro-independence activists want stronger statements by government to reinforce their call for a referendum to show the percentage that oppose becoming part of Red China. On the other hand, Taiwan’s growing dependence on mainland China markets is “a cause for concern”, as stated in a recent Taiwan Times editorial. Some 25% of Taiwan’s exports go to China; 70,000 Taiwanese firms have operations in China, with 100 billion dollars (U.S.) invested there; and 70% of China’s info-tech industry (making it the world’s largest IT manufacturer) has come from Taiwan businesses.
When I first judged a dog show in Taiwan, it was shortly after then-president Lee spoke of the cross-strait relations as “State-to-State”. This was sort of a rebuff both to Beijing and to ROC’s former party-in-control, the KMT, but for different reasons. Both of those were and are still posturing for a “One-China” policy, but ruled from only one side of the Taiwan Straits that lies between the two (and is crawling with our ironically-called “peace-keeping warships”): either the Red Chinese Beijing regime or the Chiang-legacy Free Chinese Taiwan government. Lee’s remarks then had resulted in much tension. I had been scheduled to judge China’s first Sieger Show (main, national breed show for German Shepherd Dogs) a couple of months later, but because of the threats and friction, travel from Taiwan to China was severely curtailed. Since most of the dogs to be entered in the show were going to come from Taiwan instead of the country where Mao had outlawed dogs as representing a decadent western evil, the show on the Mainland was cancelled. By the time tempers cooled and Red China’s government allowed the dog fanciers there to reschedule, the new date they chose was one I had already had booked to judge in another country.
Soon it was 2002, and the current Taiwan-ROC president Chen’s words in an August 3 speech echoed those of Lee in 1999. Chen’s Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) won elections in 2000, and despite his proffering of a friendly hand to Beijing, Red China continued to be hard-nosed, refusing to talk with the new government, and increasing its military presence and threat by deploying 350 or so missile on its coast, across the straits. Once again, this has affected me personally. I had been approached that summer about judging on the mainland in the fall, but by the time they halfway decided on a date and got a hint of approval from Beijing bureaucrats, I again had made other commitments. Politicians have a way of interfering in the lives and liberties of private citizens.
It was in this atmosphere of renewed cross-straits anger, threats, and assertions that I landed in Taipei in August, to judge an all-breed show. Two years earlier I had done the same club’s show, which they hold in connection with a gigantic trade fair, tropical fish, and pet-supplies exhibition, as well as a grooming-trimming competition, all of which combines to draw an enormous crowd. At that show, it was my pleasure to award Best-In-Show to a dog of the native breed, the Formosan Mountain Dog. This is a primitive, Dingo-type dog of an anatomical style that I find feral in such widely separated places as South America, Jamaica, the Bahamas, India, Israel, Australia, and the Savannah River valley of South Carolina, as well as Oriental locales such as the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Lompoc, and Bali. In some of these places, dog fanciers have kept records and identified individuals in the process of developing purebred strains, but the basic type persists as what I have dubbed “the Universal Dog”. This year I was pleased to see the 2000 BIS winner’s grandsons earn important awards.
The photos below shows some excellent examples of the Formosa Dog, a primitive type. If I had known the photographer was snapping shots, I would have posed a little better than to show my bald spot! Three of the pictures were taken not at the show.
Reserve Best-in-Show, Year 2000
The PGA is one of many all-breed clubs in this country of 23 million people, and the show is presented in the largest city (Taipei) and held such as this year in such venues as their World Trade Center, a convention and exhibition facility of great size. Not as many breeds are shown as in the U.S. or Europe, but several seem to be favorites. Given the crowded lifestyle of Taipei, largest entries were understandably in the toy breeds such as Shih Tsu and Maltese. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and the indigenous Formosa Dog were relatively numerous. Siberian Huskies and American Cockers were slightly more numerous than two years earlier. The largest Boxer breeding kennel in the country had sold most of their adults to the Mainland, so that breed’s entry was mostly young dogs. Still, the quality was very high, with correctly shaped heads, good mouths and eyes, and well-proportioned bodies. Dobes were also of generally good quality, with a couple of stand-out examples; one young male made a very impressive picture from the side, but was kept from a possible BIS by the absence of one tooth and by somewhat turned-out front feet. His grandsire and sire were American champions. My choice for Best In Show was a perfectly balanced, typey, medium-size Dobie bitch from the (adult) Open class. Unfortunately, promises to supply data in English, and photos, were not fulfilled.
Part of the wonderful hospitality included a flight to the central part of the country, and visits to the second-largest city of Kaohsiung and to Tainan. I was squired to great meals there, saw good German Shepherd Dogs, and met new friends, all for a little free consulting and evaluation commentary. While in Taiwan, I learned that my favorite GSD, Timo Berrekasten, had been bought by a Taiwanese and moved here, and I was delighted at the prospect of visiting them. Alas, it was not to be. When we were in Kaohsiung, they were in the north, and when we returned to Taipei, they had already gone to the central parts of the country. The “Great Grey”, a definite Quando Arminius type, would have been Sieger in Germany, I think, if he had been the more acceptable black-and-tan color they prefer there, instead of a sable. But he did not have a previous Sieger for a sire and that coupled with the color prejudice, helped keep him from top spot in Deutschland. Now, he was to enjoy propagating his genetic worth to the benefit of GSD breeding programs in the Far East. At supper at the New Grand Hotel, the group got a chuckle out of my (translated) comments about my choices for the three best GSDs of all time. I said that the best (or at least my favorites) were: 1. Bodo v Lierberg (and that all “working-dog” people would likely agree), 2. Quando Arminius (on him all “show” people would agree), and 3. Timo Berrekasten (I joked that only Peter Messler was likely to agree with me on the third!). It showed how young most of my listeners are when I had to explain who Bodo was. Sometimes I feel like George Burns who remarked that it seemed everybody in the world was a lot younger than he.
I am used to being the “odd-man” when I travel. My height and Frisian facial features make me stand out in any crowd of short, dark-haired, golden-skinned people or darker Indians, and my light complexion marks me as a foreigner in Jamaica and other primarily black-face countries. And my difficulties with Spanish and even German frequently leave me out of portions of table-talk. Yet it is only a short while before someone translates, and certainly it is taken as no slight when the excited chatter moves too fast for that. The more I go overseas and judge in Mexico, the more I am able to pick up of the conversations. And knowing that we all share the love of dogs makes a bond that transcends politics, at least for the time we are all together. As I’ve said before, it makes me wonder if world peace might be a little closer if dog-lovers ran things instead of the politicians doing so.
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