Wednesday, June 2, 2010


For those of you that know me well, you would probably say that I’m the type of person that most people go to when they need a good shoulder to cry on. I carry so many people’s problems in my head that I almost forget what my own problems are sometimes. I have always been the champion of the underdog. I love to see the little guy do well.

That said I happened upon the old movie “Rocky” last night while surfing through the channels. Who hasn’t seen this movie more than one time? I’ve probably seen more of the sequels to this movie than the original. So I sat back and started watching the original “Rocky.” I remember a scene in the movie that said that America is the land of opportunity. Wow, I bet not too many people say those words anymore. But it was true; this was a land of opportunity. I felt a swell of pride when I remembered when…..

So because I write stories and articles about dogs (and German Shepherds in particular) my mind is always looking for a subject to write about. And it just hit me, how many of us have had a “Rocky” moment in dogs? For those rare people that never seen this movie, the concept is quite simple, the underdog, the one that no one notices, the going no where fast type of person, gets a break and it changes his life forever. Suddenly the underdog is the top dog!

Is there not a more exciting moment than when an unheard of dog owned by a not so easily recognized handler goes in to the ring and blows all the competition out of the ring? In walks the big shots of the breed… know the ones that I’m talking about……the top handlers with the top breeder’s dogs straining at the end of the leash. Then in walks a dog that no ones heard of before and is owned by someone that no one ever notices. People start to whisper and point, who is that magnificent animal standing in the middle of the ring that demands their attention? Oh the crowd is surprised all right when this little unheard of dog floats around the ring like a well oiled machine and stands like an Adonis just daring the judge not to award him that blue ribbon today! It takes a mighty good and honest judge to award this dog the whole kit and caboodle when some of the top winning dogs are waiting for their next winning points. The judge knows there is not other option. At this moment, at this time, on this day, the “Where the hell did he come from dog” must be awarded the winner! The crowd bursts out in a thunderous applause at this “Rocky” moment. I live for this stuff!

Few people can deny the appeal of the underdog that upsets the whole show. Oh those that are used to winning find nothing appealing about it at all. Their answer to this “most unlikely event” happening again is that this dog was lucky and he had a very good day. They say that this is the last that we’ll hear about this dog. Sometimes what they say may be true, but it’s not always the case.

A “Rocky” type of dog is one that comes out of nowhere and beats the top winners at their own game. Probably just as surprised as many others are the owner of this dog. Oh not that he didn’t believe in the qualities of his own dog, but he didn’t believe in the system. He didn’t believe that if you have a good dog whether or not you have a well known handler doesn’t matter. He didn’t believe that a judge would have the knowledge and the guts enough to put up this unknown dog. Are there politics in the showing of dogs? Oh yes there is. Don’t let anyone tell you that there isn’t. On the other side of the coin, there are excellent judges who judge the dogs to the standard of the breed. They do their own thing in the ring and don’t care if ring side likes it or not. You hired him. This is his moment. He does it his way. It might not always be the popular choice, but it’s his choice and that’s why you hired him. If he puts up the little guy over the popular guy, he may be told when he steps out of the ring that he’ll never get another judging assignment. Oh yeah, I’ve heard this said before. But it’s the confident judge that doesn’t get flustered by these remarks and attitudes. He sleeps well at night with his choices.

As for my own “Rocky” dog moments, I’ve had a few. These types of moments are not common in the dog game, but when they happen, it’s probably the moments that you remember the most. I had four of them that I can remember. I had a Best in Maturity winner under Dave Rinke. I never met the man. He never seen my bitch before and I was one of the “little guys” in the breed. My stud dog produced a Select champion under Ernie Loeb which I almost fell out of the bleaches when he was awarded this honorable award. Another “Rocky” moment is when one of my girls took Best Opposite Sex in her Maturity and a five point major reserve the same weekend under Ralph and Mary Roberts. And the cream of the crop was when one of my dogs that I bred was awarded Select #3 under Connie Beckhardt. Why was this the cream of the crop moment for me? Because my Select dog that was a Best Opposite Sex Futurity winner and the Reserve Winners dog at the national the year before trotted into the ring with a much unknown handler. This dog was shown to his championship by Gail Sprock. That’s who everyone associated this dog with. Gail had other commitments so his owner was left to find someone else. Good luck. Come the National time, the top handlers are all ready booked up with their committed clients. Where she got this very young girl from I don’t know, but she and the dog showed their hearts out. When they won, it was one of those “tear producing” moments for me. What made all these moments even more memorable was that these wins were awarded to my dogs by some of the most recognized and respected judges in the breed.

So how about you have you and your dogs had one of those “Rocky” moments? I would love to hear about it.

My rating: “Rocky” moments: (4)


  1. I truly admire those who have the time and desire to show dogs. I like watching the shows on TV, and equally like the various trials, tests, agility tests because it is evident the dogs give it their all. They hold nothing back. I love horse races where the jockey is there but the horse is the one who has the desire and spirit to win and does. The horse just has to have the jockey along to get credit for the race.
    But what about those dogs that don't meet all the standards and are either not colored just right, to tall, to short, or just simply not show dog qualified. Or horses that are not well bred thoroughbreds that have hearts just as big and unmeasurable desire to be the best?
    If they are like our three dogs, they go mostly unnoticed by others but not us. We recognize the huge heart they have, the love that leaks from every pore of their body and the devotion and caring they have. They are champions even though they do not meet a detailed criteria that would allow them to compete in the ring. They love beyond measure, they are totally devoted to their human handlers. They may not get ribbons or metals but they get something far more valuable - a place in our hearts for their loyalty, love and absolute devotion. Ribbons and trophy's collect dust in time, but that place in our heart is always fresh.
    Whether they be show dogs, or devoted pets, they are all hero's and there is more to be learned from them than from most people. My hat is off to dogs who have more virtues than most people do and often go unnoticed for it. Dogs have my absolute respect.

  2. Right you are Bruce. A dog doesn't need to have a trophy or a ribbon to prove it's worth. They may never step foot inside a show ring, but they've all ready stepped in to our hearts. These are the true "Rocky" dogs! Thanks for writing!