Every so often, I come across an opinion that has nothing to do with what I do, but that opens the window on an unsuspected bit of human carrying-on. Here is the opening sentence of such an opinion:
We must decide whether a complaint alleging a national dog club’s policy banning members that register their dogs with an alternative club raises cognizable claims of group boycott pursuant to the Sherman Act.
Who must decide? The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, that's who. Eventually, the Court determines that the answer is "No," for reasons best left to antitrust specialists. In the process, the Court's decision tells you all that you might want to know about the origins of those adorable Jack Russell Terriers, and rather more than you might want to know about the behavior of Pedigreed Zealots. More from the opinion:
This case arises from a philosophical disagreement between groups of well-intentioned people dedicated to a breed of dog, the Jack Russell Terrier. A preliminary historical note is illuminating: Jack Russell Terriers were first bred in the south of England in the mid-1800’s to hunt European red fox, both over and underground, for the sport of kings. The breed got its name from a renowned Nineteenth Century British huntsman and breeder, Parson John Russell, known as 'The Sporting Parson,' whose passion for fox hunting and working terriers was legendary. Russell developed and bred the particular strain of white-bodied 'fox' terriers now known as Jack Russell Terriers to emphasize their working and hunting abilities.
The JRTCA [Jack Russell Terrier Club of America] is a national breed club and dog registry with standards aimed at preserving the working-dog characteristics and heritage of the Jack Russell Terrier. Formed in 1976, the JRTCA is the largest organization and registry of Jack Russell Terriers in the world, and derives a substantial amount of income from interstate and foreign commerce in the Jack Russell Terrier. . . .
Until recently, the Jack Russell Terrier was not a breed recognized by the AKC [American Kennel Club], the well-known umbrella registry for almost all types of pure-bred dogs in the United States. Consequently, unlike other breeds recognized by the AKC, there was no AKC registry of Jack Russell Terrier breeders or an AKC-breed certification by which potential owners could verify the authenticity of prospective dogs. Aiming to remedy this omission, in 1991 a minority group of JRTCA members asked the AKC to recognize the Jack Russell Terrier as an official breed. They formed a 'foundation stock' of dogs to stand as a base for a AKC dog registry and to be used to trace the pedigree of offspring. The AKC accepted the Jack Russell as an official AKC-certified breed in 1998.
The JRTCA opposed the AKC listing of Jack Russell Terriers, believing that an alternative all-breed kennel club standard and registry was not in the best interests of the dog. The JRTCA emphasizes the working-dog characteristics of the breed, and believes that any kennel club standard would over time change the dog into a show breed, bred for form not function. The JRTCA undertook a campaign to discourage its members and the public from participating with the AKC . . . . As part of its policy, JRTCA members who registered their dogs with the AKC had their JRTCA membership terminated and were not permitted to participate in JRTCA dog shows.
You can see where this is leading: straight to court. If you are deeply curious concerning the outcome, the complete opinion in The Jack Russell Terrier Network of Northern California v. American Kennel Club, Inc. (May 17, 2005), Case No. 02-17264, is accessible through the 9th Circuit's official site at this link in PDF format.
UPDATE [05/21/05]: The "02" in the Court's case number indicates that this matter had been pending before the 9th Circuit on appeal since sometime in 2002, i.e., at least two and a half years. In that time, it appears that the term "Jack Russell Terrier" has become outmoded. The AKC, in keeping with the British practice, now refers to the breed as "Parson Russell Terriers." The Parson Russell Terrier Association of America gives the details:
The Jack Russell Terrier Association of America (JRTAA), originally the Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association (JRTBA), was founded in 1985 to help restore and breed to the original Parson Jack Russell Terrier breed standard. The JRTAA standard was based upon the Heinemann standard and was written to represent the Parson Russell Terrier as a working terrier to red fox and red fox alone. With the specified 12" to 14" standard height range, the JRTAA breed standard defined a terrier that could perform the dual functions required of Rev. Russell's terriers, to follow the fox both above and below ground.
In January of 1990 the breed was recognized on the 14" standard in England by The Kennel Club as the Parson Jack Russell terrier, a working variant of the fox terrier. The Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain (PJRTC) was composed of working terrier people who felt the breed was seriously endangered by the practices of those who advocated a 10" to 15" standard, and they took the breed to Kennel Club recognition to protect the original standard.
In July of 1997, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club unanimously accepted the Jack Russell Terrier into its registry, effective November 1, 1997. On January 1, 1998 the breed became eligible for competition in all AKC events, including conformation participation in the Miscellaneous Class at all-breed shows. The breed was accepted into the AKC Terrier Group on April 1, 2000. On April 1, 2003, the name of the breed was changed from Jack Russell Terrier to Parson Russell Terrier to differentiate the true Parson-type terrier from little generic terriers casually referred to as "Jack Russell". The Jack Russell Terrier Association of America club name was changed to Parson Russell Terrier Association of America (PRTAA). The Breed Standard was revised effective September 29, 2004.
In honor of the name change, I have added the photo of "The Sporting Parson" above.
I have no word on how the Blair government proposes to respond to the mass unemployment of Parson Russell Terriers brought about by the recent abolition of fox hunting.