Let’s face it, everybody loves to win, and it’s not always true as the old song would have you believe, “Everybody loves a winner!” No one goes to a dog show to loose. But what about that winner; how many people who entered and showed their dog is truly happy for the person’s dog who won? Now come on, let’s be honest here. You wanted that win just as much as the winner did.
You bred or bought the best dog you could. You’ve worked and trained him. Maybe you road worked him. You feed him the best food and supplements that you can afford. You bought and use the top shampoos and conditioners. You groom him to perfection insuring that the judge will look at him a second time. The judge points to his winner and it’s not your dog. John Doe just won another major on his dog. Are you feeling excited? Are you jumping for joy? I mean, are you really happy for John? Do you suck it up, bite your lip and extend your hand for congratulations? Or maybe you walk away in a “huff” cursing like an old sea captain not caring who sees or hears you.
What does it take to have good sportsmanship? What does it take to show goodwill towards your fellow exhibitor? I believe it comes from the person who intelligently knows that when he enters a show, there’s a big possibility that he may not win. Now some people who enter expect to win every time. As I said before, no one goes to a show expecting to loose. But common sense will tell you, that it can and will happen, more times than you’ll want to admit.
Showing good sportsmanship to another person by showing goodwill and extending congratulations means that you think the other person has won a fair, good hard contest knowing he was as worthy of the win as you. But what about when you don’t think his dog was as good as yours? That’s when your true character will come through. I quote: “A sportsman has been defined as a person who can take loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness, generosity, and courtesy.”
A good sport should be able to maintain control of his emotions whether or not he agrees with the outcome of an event. He recognizes that his opponents have devoted just as much time and money in the sport of showing dogs as he has. He realizes that some days he wins and other days he loses. He’s going to want people to recognize and congratulate him when he is triumphant in the show ring as well. He realizes his behavior on the show grounds are viewed by……spectators, judges, breeders, exhibitors, etc. He realizes that he loses nothing by showing goodwill and gains so much more by having and maintaining a good reputation.
One of the worst emotions we humans (and even the dogs that we love) have is that old “green eyed” monster known as jealousy. It can ruin and destroy many relationships in our lives. No where is it more pronounced than when you’re competing. Dog show people are highly competitive people. They love their dogs and think that they are just about the best thing walking on four feet. Challenge that thought and you might just see some of the most “bad to the bone” type of behavior.
I’ve had two friends who live on opposite coasts of the US tell me recently about their experiences in the show ring. Both had exhibited in their clubs shows so naturally many of the clubs members were there. Both of their dogs won. Both friends told me not one person from their club congratulated them. Both of these people are very nice sweet kinds of people so no one could say that they didn’t like them as individuals. Both have had success in the show ring, one having Select champions and the other one having group winning dogs. So what gives with that?
Nothing is more important for the newcomer to the sport of showing dogs is to feel welcomed and have goodwill extended to them. This tells them that we “dog people” are a friendly lot and we want them here. This is what makes a breed club grow and prosper. Tomorrows ambassadors of our breed are today’s newcomers. It’s up to us to nurture them and see to it that they protect and maintain the principals that our forefathers had a vision for this the most noble of dogs, the German Shepherd. If we drive them away with our indifference and lack of goodwill the thrill of showing dogs just may become a pastime of the past.
My rating on good sportsmanship and goodwill in our breed: good sportsmanship: (3), goodwill (3), welcoming the newcomer: (2)