Bob Hawkins on the Hawkin’s System

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Explanation of Dismissal: 2004 CCA Bulletin Hawkins System Article

I recently completed a 3-year research project on the Hawkins System. The overview article, along with personal interviews with Bob Hawkins and Les Hutchins, will be published in the Summer 2020 edition of the CCA Bulletin.

Since the completion of the project but prior to the publication of my work, the Hawkins System has come under attack from a faction in the Collie Club of America membership desiring to revise or replace it. A primary justification for the effort is an article published on page 82 of the June 2004 Bulletin entitled Bob Hawkins on the Hawkin’s System <grammatical error included>.

The 2004 Bulletin article was included in my original research. I had specific discussions about it with both Bob and Les. Bob did not remember the article nor participating in it. He said that while much of the information in it was consistent with what he’s shared in the past – noting the system is made to allow revisions – he maintained he never made the published statements about its current need for revision. Additionally, he doesn’t believe he would have included a grammatical error in his last name and title of the article. Similarly, Les stated he has never heard Bob say the things he was quoted specific to the need for revision.

Bob had no memory of writing the 2004 article or several of the core assertions, and he maintains that position today.

Ultimately, I still included several elements from the article in the first draft of my work. However, when Bob and Les reviewed it, they both called out every part that originated from the June 2004 Bulletin article as not accurate.

Initially, that feedback was surprising. But it then raised several critical questions in my mind:

  1. Who wrote the article? No author or interviewer was cited. Typically in a Q&A style interview, the interviewer is identified for the reader. The title could infer Bob wrote it himself, but the article appeared to be based on third-party questions. Bob has no memory of writing the 2004 article or several of the core assertions.
  2. What was the purpose of the article? The questions were predominantly focused on alleged shortcomings in Bob’s system. It is a very different perspective than anything Bob has put forth in the past. That includes our recent conversations as a part of my research.
  3. If Bob Hawkins did not state the specific quotes regarding revisions, why were they inaccurately attributed to him? We can only speculate on that answer. A conscientious writer is diligent in preserving the accuracy of an interviewee’s quotes, particularly if they are paraphrased. Changing the intent of someone’s answers in a published article is a serious thing.

It is unlikely we’ll ever know the answers to those questions. Due to Bob and Les’ sustained objections to the contents of the June 2004 Bulletin article, I needed to deem it materially erroneous and removed it from my final version. Bob and Les are honest, sincere gentlemen to be taken at their word. Ultimately, what was printed in the 2004 article is irrelevant to the current argument, as it does not accurately represent Bob’s position. In speaking with Bob today, he maintains the system currently does not need revision and the best dogs continue to be accurately recognized under it.

Ultimately, what was printed in the 2004 article is irrelevant to the current argument, as it does not accurately represent Bob’s position.

My overview article was intended to tell the complete Hawkins System story. It shares its history and purpose, it explains its major components and directly addresses the common misunderstandings and complaints. I decided I could not include an outlier piece containing errors and coming from uncertain origins or motives.

Matt Stelter

May 29, 2020

2004 CCA Bulletin Article