Sunday, February 27, 2011

NAWBA Resignation Letter

Board of Directors
North American Working Bouvier Association
Please accept my resignation from NAWBA as of receipt of this post.
I will remain a distant supporter of the club and would like to receive the Journal on a regular basis if that's possible.
I take this step after reading the "Letter from the President" in the Fall 2010 issue of the NAWBA Journal.
In that letter, Ms. Hart states "But an emphasis on this [the importance of attracting new members] has led to a diluting of NAWBA's original purpose & has, perhaps, served to alienate as many people as it may have attracted."
Ms. Hart goes on to say: "Entertainment [...] is not our primary purpose."
I agree which is why I am submitting my resignation.
However, I think Ms. Hart makes a mistake with that attitude. In my opinion, it is much too simplistic to place all Bouvier people into one of two wicker baskets: those who train in protection and those who are entertained.
Further exclusivity, i.e. the preponderance of Schutzhund (a German Sport originating for GSDs) and the attitude of many who practice the sport over other Bouvier work, i.e. [the Bouvier]"... a rugged farm dog, capable of doing whatever task the owner needed" – be it protection from predators, droving, pulling, herding, carting – is what I believe is doing the greatest disservice to the working Bouvier.
I take exception to her statement that the Bouvier evolved, as a protector "in its original incarnation". The history of the breed does not support that.
The Bouvier evolved as a farm helper, an all around worker, who thought for itself, who put pain aside and held loyalty to it's family above all else. Yes, time and society have changed. But – contrary to what some would have you believe – that doesn't preclude the priority and utility of all the other known Bouvier activities.
Nevertheless and arguably, it may be too late for NAWBA to change course and I'm glad I won't be around to see the organization further disintegrate into a Schutzhund Federation.
Nothing wrong with Schutzhund or it's competitors -- both dogs & people – I admire both, but it has little direct connection with the Bouvier except in the minds of a relative insistent few. And, as a matter of fact, it demands that the Bouvier become a slavish reactor to commands, i.e. specifically NOT to think, only to obey, a job better suited to a Malinois and other breeds. And yes, I understand that obedience is paramount. That is not what I mean.
Bouviers have enriched my life beyond measure for almost forty years. I have learned a lot over those years. I hasten to say my experiences with NAWBA, and the people I have met through NAWBA, has not diminished that personal experience one iota. To the contrary.
I wish you all well.
Jan Rifkinson
Jan, Truman & Stella Bella in Ridgefield, CT USA
BouvSite @
Advance pro-activity in defense of the Bouvier