3 International Dog Shows in Vilnius, Litexpo. 06-08 March 2020.

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Education of the Youth

We expect more young people get involved with the cynology, enhance responsibility of dog owners and in doing so expect more tolerance towards our pets and our hobby“: says an enthusiastic supporter of the youth initiatives, the President of the Lithuanian Kennel Club Mrs Ramune Kazlauskaitė.

Being aware of the abundance of activities for young people and education for the general public, FCI Youth interviewed the head of the Lithuanian canine organisation about education and future perspectives for cynology.

– Dog shows and breeding: this is a common concept of cynology. What does cynology mean to you?

– Though the majority of dog world people are restricted to dog shows and breeding, I have always had a notion that cynology is by far more than this. Dog people do not live in show halls, they are involved in various dog sports, spend their pastime with them, live with people and among people whom they and their pets have daily contact with. Since times immemorial dogs have lived with people serving their different needs and everytime we find still new areas where our dogs could do. Paradoxically, there still exists a large number of people who do not know their best friend – a dog, which leads to misunderstandings and even seriuos problems. We cannot ignore the fact that the number of pets owned by families is rapidly growing – we have to help them by sharing our knowledge and experience.

– Are there still any areas in the cynology where innovations, unconventional solutions and public-orientated projects would apply?

– Despite the fact that nowadays there is plenty of information on the virtual space, people still want direct contact and „live“ communication, especially when it comes to their pets. People look for a reliable source of information. Education for the general publics is still a novelty in our country. For some reason, for quite a while it was limited to the target groups such as dog breeders, trainers, handlers, etc. Society is still divided between those in favour of dogs and those against them. As a result, we witness lists of „dangerous“ breeds, discriminating laws and regulations. All this is the outcome of a lack of education, which often results in unreasonable fear for dogs. It might sound ambitious, but I strongly believe that educational activities carried out by national canine organisations would alter society‘s attitude towards dogs. Since our activities are meant for the general publics, they are carried out by means of cooperation with animal welfare and other organisations. Therefore, we are for joint projects, both inside the country and at the international level. It would be perfect if we could collect the best practices and implement them in the FCI countries – there is no need to reinvent a bicycle, but rather use the best practices and step forward.

Step forward… In terms of cynology, Lithuania is still a very „young“ country. Could this be the reason why you have a thirst for changes and knowlledge?

Partly it could. The Lithuanian Kennel Club is a relatively young organisation. We have always strived for knowledge and continue to do so. At the same time, we understand that it is not enough to accumulate the knowledge, it is necessary to share it. The very beginning of our Education Centre was not easy. There were lots of doubts and discussions whether a cynological organisation should intrude into the field of education. At the moment, all doubts are dispersing. We are supported by the state institutions and society, we do appreciate support of the young people interested in cynology.

– What is the message that you are sending to the general public?

– Our main message is that people and dogs must get on well! This is to the benefit of both and we need so little – only to know dogs better and feel responsible for our pets. A crucial thing in this situation is to find a suitable channel to transmit the information, it must be available to all people.

– The Lithuanian Kennel Club allocates funds for educational activities. Does your organisation get any feedback or benefit from this?

– Some obvious result we hope to see in 5 – 10 years. Probably even later… However, at the moment we are enjoying a much better awareness of our organisation in the society and this implies development and strength of it. If we had aimed at profit we would not have started all this at all. Education is a slowly rewarding activity. However, we do hope for moral benefit – for more young people involved into cynology, for more responsible dog owners, for more tolerance towards our pets and our hobby.

– The world is global. You are in regular contact with the heads of other canine organisations, judge at the shows and have plenty of opportunities to observe young people with their dogs. Do you feel the involvement of the young people in cynology?

– Dog lovers make a very diverse community. Neither the distance, cultural differences nor language barrier is an obsticle for their communication. The number of young people in cynology is gradually growing, however, we would like to feel more drive from young people. I think a great initiative of the FCI was the establishment of FCI Youth, which encourages young people to get involved into cynological activities and at the same time in education of the general publics. Young people are the future of both our national organisations and of cynology as such and we have to invest in them now for a better future.