Walk The Line, by Peter Clifton.


Published in Our Dogs March 2023


Youth, middle age, old age and surplus to requirement are all part of modern day life. The canine world brings people together from all these walks of life, each accepting the other without divide of the region where we live, wealth, social standing or colour. Society in general could well learn from the manner in which we conduct ourselves and show respect to our fellow exhibitors.


Yet as individuals we can be subjected to discrimination in any number of day to day situations within the canine world. If one has been treated less favourably by an organisation in the public sector, a business providing a service or a private club, society or organisation in the course of one’s day to day life, one does have the law to protect one.


Under the Equality Act 2010 there are four main types of discrimination under the act; Direct discrimination, Indirect discrimination, Harassment and Victimisation.

Age discrimination, commonly called ageism, can be legal under certain circumstances. The act does allow for age discrimination when it can be ‘objectively justified’. (an employer could put an upper age limit on a job where very high levels of physical fitness are required and could not be fulfilled by someone older.)

Direct discrimination happens when someone treats you worse than another person in a similar situation because of your age

Indirect discrimination happens when an organisation has a particular policy or way of working that applies to everyone but which puts people of your age group at a disadvantage.

A private club or association can also fall within the act and cannot, without sufficient reason, discriminate against club members and guests because of age and those affected can take legal action in the civil courts.


The older you are, the later "old" gets. Unsurprisingly, perceptions of when "young" ends and "middle age" and "old" begin are influenced by one’s own personal age and probably outlook on life.


Our Kennel Club certainly ‘walk the line’ and possibly a very fine one when it comes to working within the Equality Act. The creation of The Young Kennel Club catering for the 6 -24 year olds has been a major success and investment in the future. One does wonder how the’ 6-24’ years came about when The United Nations defines youth as persons between the ages of roughly 15 and 24.

The Kennel Club web sites states’ We aim to provide young people with a place to train their dogs and compete against members of a similar age (aged 6-24)’ and that ‘young people needed a club and a voice of their own within The Kennel Club’.


The show world probably does have a higher proportion older exhibitors than of any other section of the age ladder, and thankfully the Kennel Club acknowledge this most valuable contribution and implemented mentoring, after years of asking, into the education program. Over many decades elder members have travelled around the country at their own expense, giving lectures on behalf of their breed clubs, providing knowledge gained over, in many cases, a lifetime. Look around any show venue, from sanction to all breed general Championship, and one sees the rings are filled with volunteers of senior years, once again providing a most valuable service and sharing their experience. Where would the show world be without these dedicated teams of older personnel?. The afore mentioned do not have any age limits placed upon them, one is able to continue taking part in some small way in one’s hobby and love, making up one’s own mind, and rightly so, at what stage to step back.


Crufts provides the reflection and voice of British dogdom to everyday dog lovers around the world. It’s success is reliant on many factors, one of which is the exhibitors and of which this older generation form a major part. As an exhibitor one spends endless hours ensuring that one’s exhibit is in peak condition for this prodigious event. Up at the crack of dawn to make the early Crufts start, the long haul with dogs, trolley, show gear and refreshments from distant car parks to the halls, a task more suited to mountaineers than aged dog exhibitors. Once inside we prepare and show our dogs, spend endless hours talking to friends from home and overseas, visit trade stands and, before one knows it, it’s four p.m and we are allowed to once again pull everything back to those distant car parks, and then the long drive home. Those lucky elderly exhibitors that get Best of Breed have the luxury of pulling everything to the distant main ring that’s more like an obstacle course to negotiate, and after group judging one repeats the whole operation and finally leaves the car parks at nine p.m.. Quite some day, yet it’s done with smiles, grace and ‘see you next year’, that’s the elderly for you.


Crufts judges have the pleasure of driving down the day before, staying in a nice hotel with dinner provided. One’s then able to retire at one’s pleasure depending on how much one needs to drink or talk to those exhibitors that always seek being seen in high places. Come morning a leisurely breakfast then a short walk to your hall, attend the judges meeting, and on to your ring. One could be judging all day, a few hours or just one at most should you be doing a group, certainly tiring but far less so than than those that have exhibited that day.


It’s long known that Crufts do not appoint judges after the age of 80, be you a breed specialist or allrounder. It’s very doubtful that a rule exists to this effect or that anything has ever been put on paper, thus, could this be an unwritten ageism policy in an attempt to step around the law. People today are not old or passed it at 80 and, while considered fit enough to judge other events both home and overseas, one needs to ask, should these long time servants of the canine world be denied appointments at Crufts simply because of age. If the Kennel Club feel inviting them is detrimental to over 80s health, then first please implement a rule to this effect, do not allow us to mentor or steward at any show, just ban us from exhibiting in case we collapse and start a lawsuit. It’s worth noting that exhibitors have collapsed and died in the ring, some well under 80, but I can’t recall any judge following suit. One judge, way under 80 did try for when approaching the first group exhibit from the side, did managed to fall straight over the top of the dog landing in a heap on the other side. It was put down to illness called 70% proof,


Crufts stewards, of which many are senior people falling foul of the 80 rule, have been a major part of the show’s success over many years, yet the day comes when one’s shown the door all because of age. Yes the day can be long, but one’s able to relax to a degree once each class judging is underway. When one’s intelligent enough to be offered a stewarding job it’s my view one knows the time when one feels it’s now too much and time to step back. Could our Kennel Club show more appreciation, maybe adjust the workload which would still make people feel wanted and respected. Seeing a grown person in tears because it’s their last year stewarding at Crufts was a most painful experience, years of service only to be discarded because someone unqualified says you are too old.

Many other items fall into this grey area of equality, the Kennel Club board, age restrictions on trying to become a group judges. When one look outside of the Kennel Club every week one hears complaints of judging selection by General Ch Shows and the favouritism shown to all rounders as against breed specialists. This is now becoming far more noticeable because of the vast numbers of first time all rounders being appointed against first time breed specialists. Certain groups are monopolised by allrounders on the pretence that its more financially viable. This is not equality, and one could go on.


We are not asking for an over 80s kennel club run on the lines of the young Kennel Club with activity weekends summer camps, or old person of the year awards. We are not asking for a Brinsworth House which stands as a place of safety, peace, happiness and tranquility. Appropriately labelled the Old Pro's Paradise and is the home of many retired artists and those of who have spent their lives serving the entertainment industry. We are asking that simple procedures be put in place, which may have been caused by an oversight that will ensure ageism never again exist at Crufts or any other Kennel Club event. It should not be threats, mass walkout or one persons challenge, let common sense prevail and all treated as the Equality Act 2010 intended.

In 1952 I attended my first Crufts and 2022 was my last for while I’m way past 80 and now not considered capable or fit enough to judge any of my breeds, then it only right the same applies to exhibiting, please let us be like an artists, they are allowed to die on stage. I await a reply from the Chairman of Crufts.