Tag Archives: Standard of Perfection

Biological or Mechanical Standard

Please allow me to start off this post with a disclaimer – that the intent of this post is not to criticize anyone, any establishment, and most of all, this wonderful hobby of raising rabbits. I do apologize if you take offence of what I am about to write. It is a free world and life is wonderful when we are able to just do whatsoever we wish as long as it is confined within the rule of law. I am not in any way imposing my thoughts and beliefs unto any readers or encouraging others to be aligned to my thoughts.

That being said, please allow me to spill my thoughts.

I recently stumbled across the following video:

The video sparked off some interesting thoughts in my mind. It pointed me to three words – Standard Of Perfection.

 Can we really achieve a perfect show animal? I can now confidently say, NO.

Why?

The fact that the genetic make up of an organism just do not allow for perfection. Perfection based on human justification that is. Therefore, the Standard Of Perfection (SOP) is indeed just a guide and in my humble opinion, have no interest in the internal but more of exterior. No Standard Of Perfection in the animal showing world have the slightest emphasis on the internal health of an animal except for bone structures (e.g. hip dysplasia). In short and general speaking, an animal can resemble (physically) whatever that is stated in the SOP may be show worthy even though it may be suffering from an internal terminal illness.

I guess to truly understand where I am coming from, perhaps we should dissect the word Standard to its most fundamental form. We hear about many organizations governing standards and ISO being one that is the most well known. Without referring to a dictionary or wikipedia, the definition of Standard to me is plainly a series or a set of actions or processes that constantly yield a perfect result/resolution. Most of the show animal SOP does not lay down steps in producing a perfect animal, it simply states how a perfect animal should be perceived and takes shape (physically). That to me is not a standard. Perhaps it should be called Guidelines To The Most Ideal Physical Manifestations Of Breeds. I know it does not sound as catchy as Standard Of Perfection but that is the reality in my humble opinion.

In reality (and the odds are), there will never be a perfect, perfect animal adhering perfectly against every point stated in the SOP. It can be very near but never 100% to be absolutely honest.

And sometimes we see breeders leaving the hobby and we ask why? The question is why not?

If you have ever played a game of soccer, just imagine that each time you score a goal, someone shifts the goal post. Yes, that is exactly how it feels as a breeder most of the time because SOP changes every 5 years in some cases.

Can we really achieve 100% perfect biologically? NO.

On the other hand, take the case of Spot (the mechanical dog) for example. Every microchip or mechanical components must be fitted exactly where they are. The processors must be programmed to execute an action in perfect precision. Can we achieve a mechanical Standard Of Perfection? YES!

I believe it is easier to accept a standard provided for a machine. The size of the motherboard, memory chip, sensors, and materials used can all be governed by standards.

Throughout the years, I have observed that the subjects that are being judged do not change much but the rules around the judging usually changes. And sometimes it comes full circle and the cycle repeats itself. We as humans are so accustomed to change and we even say that “the only constant is change”. We have to always reinvent ourselves in order to stay current. Take for example the hairstyle in the 60s versus the 90s. And at some point, the 60s fashion seemed to make its way back as a trend.

Clothing remains as a piece of textile used to cover oneself. However you change it, the purpose remains the same.

I must also emphasize that it is in the end just a hobby or past time. An interest we adopt to spend our time and it makes us happy, intrigued, proud, bewildered, engaged, relaxed, and many more advantages both tangible and intangible. It is never a case of right or wrong. It is a case of “to each his own”.

Can we ever be 100% perfect biologically?

Just a thought…

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The Holland Lop Breed Standards Past & Present

Much has been mentioned about the Standard Of Perfection or SOP in short. It is a booklet published by the ARBA containing very comprehensive descriptions how each of the 47 rabbit breeds that it recognizes suppose to be. Though sometimes it is fairly difficult to interpret and put a physical imagination to the wordy descriptions, it is no surprise that different judges have dissimilar ideas. Though I am far from being a judge, I am guilty of favoring certain physical traits in my idea or version of a perfect Holland Lop.

As of late, I have been a little more than confused than I have ever have been seeing and reading about what is desirable or undesirable in the Holland Lop. My attention is particularly on what “bone” is and how the “stumps” are desirable – I am indeed referring to the Holland Lop’s front feet.

Nowadays, we are so in love with the little “4 studs LEGO bricks” as front legs of our Holland Lops. Having stumps for front legs do look good but if we are not careful, we may overlook the problem of low head mount.

An example of a 4 studs LEGO brick.

Just before I continue sharing my thoughts, I would like to talk a little more about the Standard Of Perfection and show you some pictures to support my observation.

A few months ago, a friend of mine shared a photo of the 1981 to 1985 Holland Lop Standard of Perfection. It was a shocker to me looking at that picture and realizing how much change these animals have gone through. The changes were beyond massive! Let’s take a look at how Holland Lops used to look like in the 80s.

A picture from the ARBA archive/vault.

And as time goes by and with many improvements and upgrades done to the Standard of Perfection, a Holland Lop is now listed as one of the compact breeds. When posed, the front feet must be aligned with the eyes and when that happens, it is said that a Holland Lop “sits up” in an “upright” position. If you have the ARBA SOP, you will find that the Holland Lop looks totally different from the above.

The current 2011 to 2015 ARBA SOP of the Holland Lop breed.

Did the difference shock you as much as it did me?

When I first saw the difference, I was like WOW (or a silent WTF?)!

Alright, let’s come back to the confusion that I have. In one of the recent shows, I hear a lot about the Holland Lops having very long front legs and those that placed well at a particular show have their chest stuck to the “stumps”.

That made me start thinking and imagining how things should really look like. My thoughts were often contradicting and in the end I got an idea to use some pictures to illustrate the concept. I must first admit that my rabbits are no way near perfect and whatever I have done with the graphic tool is solely for the reason of achieving clarity and understanding.

So today I took one of my juniors and started posing her. Of course there are still much improvement needed and nonetheless, I started to pose her like how a Holland Lop should.

This is the best pose I got out of her. She’s a nice Broken Sable Point that I am totally in love with right now.

Then I started imagining “chopping” parts of her front feet off so that I get two “4 studs LEGO brick stumps”. And the outcome…

I hope it wasn’t painful but it does look pretty good…

Alright, here’s a picture of her again before the “chop” off.

She already have nice bone to begin with, don’t you think?

Though it looks pretty good having those “stumps”, there is an adverse effect when you view her from the side (logically, that is). Remembering that when posed properly, a Holland Lop should have its front feet aligned to its eye as stated in the Standard.

This is the best pose I can get with a reasonable alignment.

Another thing that we should remember is that another desirable trait is the 1/3 rule – which is the 1 part head : 2 parts body ratio. Meaning to say, the Holland Lop’s head should make up 1/3 of the body length. Even this little Holland Lop of mine falls short of that by a couple of centimeters as depicted.

Am I seeing 3 heads?

And when I chop off the front feet to achieve the “stumps”, how do you think my little bunny will look like?

My Holland Lop starts feeling lazy and begins to slouch…

More obvious, I no longer can align the front feet with the eye and of course, the length of the body starts to increase, naturally.

Now I am seeing red…

And if we are not careful, we might feel as though we’re in the movie “Back To The Future” and produce our 1981 – 1985 Holland Lop…

A picture from the ARBA archive/vault.

The question is, who is judge and which standard do we follow?

If you have not already notice, like many in the hobby, I am not overly zealous about chasing after these impossible tweak of nature feats. Each rabbit deserves a life just like any other.

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Value

I am very excited to announce my debut as a featured writer on PetFinder.my’s newly launched online magazine – WAGazine!!! If you have not already read it, click here to read. This is part 1 of a series of articles that I will be writing all about rabbits! I hope everyone enjoys the article as they are written based on my experiences raising rabbits in Malaysia.

On the other hand, most of you might have heard that Tru-Luv Rabbitry is going through a major herd reduction. I will post pictures of rabbits available. I have also sold a set of 3 feet cages together with the shelf unit. What a hot item it was.

Please do not misunderstand this for a sell out. I am not selling out of rabbits but instead it is a downsizing exercise. I shall explain the reason why I am downsizing and also why I will never sell out.

I am sure some of you might have experienced the “light bulb” moment. A sudden surge of awareness or sometimes referred to as wake up call. I experienced not only once but a few “wake up calls” during the past few months. Many incidents that took place somehow enlightened me and I shall share them with you.

All these wake up calls evolved around the word VALUE and thus, the title of this post.

Back in the days when I first started raising my first pet rabbit, I only had one rabbit and we both became best buddies. Somehow when you have just one pet, you tend to get very attached and the pet will also be very attached to you. I believe most breeders will tell you that somewhere among the many rabbits that they have, there is sure to be one “heart” bunny. The special one that we all get attached to.

My first wake up call came a couple of weeks before the rabbit show in June. The rabbit show was organized in conjunction with the pet fair. One of the pet product supplier approached me and asked if I can loan him my “smartest” rabbit. That caught me off guard and made me think for a while. What should we expect from a smart rabbit? Must it be able to solve puzzles?

Now, I am sure that if a rabbit spend enough time, get enough attention and training, it can do some sort of tricks. I did train chickens to fly unto my hands when I stretch them out when I was just 9 years old. Chickens have the brain and I strongly believe rabbits do too. Looking at the rate how the rabbit hopping hobby is growing there is no doubt that rabbits are trainable. I did mention about Tinga and Tridus being habitual “food beggars” in my article as well.

The 2nd wake up call came when I was asked to judge the fun show at the recent rabbit gathering. I did mention the interesting judging criteria i.e. creative movement, obedience, following instructions and etc. These are possible although I do not think I will make an effort to do all that.

And that got me wondering what is lacking in my hobby. The problem I realize lies in the number of rabbits that I have to care for. There is not enough time to bond with my pets. With so many, it has become a chore more than an enjoyable past time. How in the world did I get to this point? Simply because I was trying so hard to produce that one “perfect” rabbit according to the standard. And that made me miss out on the fun of truly enjoying my pets. I spend more time cleaning up than interacting with my pets.

If you look around you, there is something that you will surely notice – DIVERSITY. In a litter of rabbits, every kit is different for that reason. And unfortunately, by subscribing to adhere to strive for the one “perfect” standard, we are discarding what we are taught to be undesirable. I have learned to accept that this “perfection” will never come about simply because how mother nature intends to be diverse. Going against mother nature is like trying to make earth turn the other direction. I am not only referring to the case of rabbits but any pets in the “show” world in general.

When I look at show animals in general, this image comes to my mind…

A goldfish?

The goldfish is a type of ornamental fish. The ornamental fish market makes up quite a huge percentage in the pet industry. Fishes in a well decorated tank can be a very relaxing sight to behold after a hard day’s work. If you ask a fish to swim on command, most probably you will get much disappointment.

That is how it is when you have too many rabbits in cages. They just look like ornamental rabbits and sit in cages looking pretty. I believe that when we keep animal as pets, there should be interaction.

Thinking back about how things used to be, I was able to share on this blog the different personalities that I see in my rabbits. I no longer able to do that because I realized that I do not spend enough time to notice them anymore. That is not how it suppose to be.

It is funny how sometimes we contradict ourselves. I am sure you have come across “REASONS NOT TO BREED YOUR …” articles and one of the DON’T is not to breed if you think your pet is the best and you want to produce another one like it. But if you take a step back and think about it, that’s exactly what most breeders are doing. They are trying to produce that “best” to replace the “bests” before the “best”.

Now the question is, will I still breed? Of course I will but I shall breed for what I like in terms of health and general disposition.

What about wanting to win at show?

I have come to realize that my pets are LARGER than the shows. They are much more valuable than the fee I pay to enter them into shows and have a judge or two spending just 2 minutes looking at them and conclude they are worthless! I am very contented that I have produced show worthy rabbits.

And do allow me tell you how valuable my rabbits are. Each time I decide to cut the numbers down in my rabbitry, those left behind are the old barren does or the 3 years old bucks that I have grown to love. Why do I keep those that have no “production” value and pass along those that can still produce? That really boils down as to what is the objective of you wanting to keep these animals as pets.

The hardest decisions for me really is when I have to pass along the imports. These rabbits have sentimental values that I hold dearly to my heart. Each time I look at them, it reminds me of those who sent them to me. I have met each one of them and have hugged them in person. Having these rabbits with me is the closest I can be with these lovely people. This is the only reason why I will never sell out. Perhaps when all my favorite bunnies have left for rainbow bridge, that could be the day I will declare that I am done.

What I am trying to say is that, you can never put a price tag on a rabbit that means a lot to you. They are not just soft toys on the shelves that you can pick and pay at the counter. Each and every one of my rabbits are invaluable to me.

It is sure nice to obtain a Grand Champion leg or two in this lifetime but Grand Champion rabbits come and go in droves. Even the best bunnies will have to die eventually. What do you make out of all the papers?

How much we lose ourselves when we lose focus on what matters.

For me, what matters most is being able to share unique bunnies to individuals who truly appreciates the joy of having them as pets. Being able to build friendships that last a lifetime. Being able to travel across the globe to hug a bunny friend. Going through life’s ups and downs encouraging each other and sharing the joy.

The truth to the matter is, there will be no rabbits without the people to share with. And the value of things is in where we prefer value is to be placed.

The following rabbits are available and please email me at truluvrabbitry@gmail.com for more information. Thank you!

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Filed under Community Service, For Sale, Rabbit Education, Thoughts