I’m not dumb enough to think what I write will set the world on fire or that it’s going to change the world…..or more importantly the people in it. But maybe, just maybe it might touch someone enough…..
Because we all share our love for the German Shepherd Dog, it brings many different people from all walks of life to this hobby of ours called “showing dogs.” It attracts the little guy to the big shot to the "wanna be’s" to the well established. The sport of showing dogs doesn’t discriminate. Its doors are open to all who show a desire and dedication to promote our breed. Many, many years ago the only people that showed dogs were the aristocratic of society. It is after all, a very expensive hobby to be involved in.
With today’s technological advancement in communication people can share their love of the breed and acquire knowledge about it quicker than ever before. In a matter of minutes, most all of any information you need is readily available at your fingertips. There are thousands upon thousands of websites available for the serious student of the breed. There are a tremendous amount of e-mail lists that one can choose to belong to with other liked minded individuals. Here is where you’ll see an exchange of ideas and information. We are a passionate lot of people and some have stronger convictions and viewpoints than others and sometimes heated arguments will occur. I’m all for a lively discussion as long as everyone plays fair.
PLAY FAIR………hmmmm……...we would hope that when we show our dogs that our dogs are getting a fair look from the judge. But this article isn’t about what goes on inside the ring. This is about what goes on outside the ring! Some of you may know that I have an on line store where I sell many dog related products like t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards, mouse pads, etc. I’m always looking for cute little sayings to put on them. Well someone gave me an idea for this. She said how about using these words on some of your products……”Dog shows…the only place where there are more bitches outside the ring than in it!” I laughed out loud with that one because she was very new to the sport of showing dogs but she had already picked up on the atmosphere at some of the shows that she went to.
We question why our clubs are becoming smaller and smaller. We wonder why the entries at dog shows can barely pull a major. It’s not about the dogs. It never was. It’s about the people that show the dogs. People haven’t lost their interest in the German Shepherd Dog. They’ve lost their interest in showing the German Shepherd Dog. They can take their dog home with them and give them all the love they need. They can enjoy their dog playing ball with him in the back yard. No the complaints that I hear is about the treatment people are receiving from the so called dog community. These complaints are not just from the new person to the breed. These complaints are by people that have been in the breed for many years having owned Select and Group winning champions. One person told me that she’s just about ready to stop showing dogs.
The spoken word is probably one of the most powerful of tools that man has available to him. It can provoke comfort, love, and affection and can make someone’s day. On the other hand, words spoken in anger or with venom can hurt, ridicule, and break hearts. It can win wars or stop wars depending upon the words one would choose to use. They’re only words, but they can be stronger than if you were to punch someone. Their sting can last a lifetime. The sting of a punch may last a couple of days. The sting of words may never go away.
We all have our perception of what an ideal dog should look like. We have a standard that dictates what they should look like. When it comes to being a human being, there is no standard. One size does not fit all. It is not our business to go around telling other exhibitors how they should dress or comb their hair. It’s not our business to tell one another who to hang around with and who to stay away from. It not our business to tell someone that their dog is nothing but a pet unless that person asked us for our advice. It’s not our business to go around breaking hearts and squashing someone’s dreams. It’s not our business to laugh at and make fun of someone because he doesn’t fit into our perception of what beauty should be. If someone wants to dress comfortably going to a dog show, it’s not our business to tell them that they need to invest in new wardrobe.
We never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Not everyone tells you of their illnesses or family problems. We may not be aware that this person is a month away from losing her home. Maybe she’s eating another can of pork and beans tonight. We don’t know what anyone else’s life is like. Showing kindness and offering help when it’s needed is probably one of the most rewarding of experiences. The person that we are making fun of may not be our “ideal” person, but her heart breaks just as easily as ours does. She goes to dog shows because she loves the breed. She may be looking for a little friendship from people that love the breed just as much as she does. No time like this time to extend kindness when the economy has taken so many victims.
Oh my (I apologize), I didn’t mean to get too preachy here, but recently I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories about the mistreatment from some in our dog community. It breaks my heart when a friend breaks down and cries or threatens to leave the showing of dogs that she loves so much. That said, MOST people in the dog show community are some of the most wonderful people that you will ever meet and many long standing friendships have lasted for decades. MOST people are willing to share their years of knowledge with those who chose to listen. For the MOST part it is a fun community of some great people that you will cherish for the rest of your life!
We are all on this journey together sometimes choosing a different path to take, but all looking for the same thing.....acceptance. I should hope that when we all leave this great big earth that we would want to be remembered more about who we were as a person than about the dogs that we owned. And as for the dogs…… well they are wonderful just the way they are because they like us humans just the way we are!
"KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: Amazon.com Review
A road-trip and self-discovery book with a difference: McIntyre hitchhiked across America with no money, accepting only the "kindness of strangers"--rides, food, shelter, and the occasional beer. This book grew on me with every page, just as McIntyre's feelings for the ordinary people he met grew with every mile. Few books I've read since Studs Terkel's Hard Times (a classic oral history about the Great Depression) so effectively captured the day-to-day lives of typical Middle Americans, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Highly Recommended.
My rating: KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: (4), kindness to all: (4)