Stud dog causes BBC controversy

by Leanne Thompson on February 5, 2009

Fans of Eastenders will know that Gumbo, a slobbering, huge, cuddly St Bernard, has made a real impression on the soap, however, he is also the centre of much controversy this week.

As regular readers will know, it was not too many months ago that the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and the follow up news that the BBC has dropped Crufts from its broadcasting schedule after 15 years has put the BBC at the centre of many arguments over how the Kennel Club encourages dog breeding for appearance as opposed to health.

It emerges that two-year-old Gumbo, whose real name is Shamus, is the 200lb son of two Crufts champions, top bitch Chandlimore Town Gossip With Carsahon and the top stud dog Poolsway No More Mr Nice Guy.  Shamus was actually entered in Crufts in 2008 with his competition name Enter Carashon Just The Ticket At Newkasbern and his brother, Carashon Take A Chance With Chandlimore, was top St Bernard at Crufts last year.

Reportedly, there have been many complaints from dog owners about the apparent double standards of the BBC especially as in the soap, Gumbo’s new owner, Bradley Branning, enters Gumbo in a dog show and later decides to use Gumbo as a stud dog in order to make some money.

Fourteen controversial dog breeds were linked to genetic disease, one of which is the St Bernard. This particular breed did not appear in the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme, although it did appear in the ‘at risk’ breeds list from a panel of canine experts.  The BBC demanded that the Kennel Club drop these dog breeds from the show and when the Kennel Club refused, the BBC dropped the show from its schedule.

The fourteen dog breeds the BBC wanted to ban from Crufts television coverage are the Basset hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chow chow, Clumber spaniel, Dogue de Bordeaux, German shepherd, Mastiff, Neapolitan mastiff, Pekinese Shar pei, Rhodesian ridgeback and, rather ironically, the St Bernard.

According to the RSPCA, the St Bernard breed tends:

“to be bred very large when they are already large and this can affect their breathing, cause heart conditions and strain the dog’s skeletal system”

Eastenders favourite dog extra, Well’ard, was portrayed as a mongrel although he was actually a rare Belgian Shepherd.

A spokesperson for the South of England St Bernard Club, Jim Coots, stated:

“I think the decision to introduce a St Bernard is very hypocritical . . . I have complained to the BBC. I watched an episode this week and there was even talk of breeding from the dog so they were even advertising possible bad breeding on the programme.”

The president of the English St Bernard Club, Pat Muggleton, also commented:

“Lots of people are commenting about this very strange decision by the BBC. When they won’t allow a St Bernard to be televised from Crufts it seems peculiar they are having it on EastEnders.”

Even the Kennel Club’s secretary, Caroline Sisko, released a statement saying:

“We are mystified by the decision. It seems very hypocritical. It could be one part of the BBC not knowing what the other has done. I watched it this week and was shocked. It is so odd. In one breath the BBC say the breed is at risk and the next minute they are showing a St Bernard as a show dog on BBC TV as if it is perfectly OK. Of course we as a club see no problem with the St Bernard, but the decision seems odd when we were told we had to stop the breed being shown at Crufts.”

In their defense, a BBC spokesperson said:

“There is no BBC rule to say St Bernards should not appear on screen at all following the decision to suspend broadcast of Crufts. A St Bernard appearing as a lovable fictional pet in EastEnders is very different in context to seeing them upheld as exemplary breeds in a prestigious televised dog show.”

The BBC went on to state they had received less than ten complaints and the owner of Shamus, Jean Miccican, did not wish to comment but said that Shamus was being well looked after at the BBC studio.

1 Comment »

  1. you are all a bunch of KNOW ALLS learn all the facts before you comment on what you think you know (BUT I CAN TELL YOU YOU DONT ) AND AS FOR mr jim coots read what you write or have wrote about saints before you start with all your information, and just for the record his NOT A SHOW DOG and his NOT a stud dog ! so please learn facts before leaving your comments and dont go on hear say!

    Comment by ann — August 24, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

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