Yesterday’s blog about Specialty Clubs drew a lot of conversation on the different e-mails lists that I send this blog to everyday. One e-mail stood out in my mind. Someone wrote to me and said that she found this subject interesting as she contacted a specialty club in her area and she never heard from anyone. That’s very telling. Then someone called me this morning and asked me to continue this subject and perhaps talk about the lack of entries at shows. We touched upon some of the reasons that the clubs are falling that I wrote about yesterday. She agreed 100% with one writer that said that some of the fault lies with having access to the internet. We would have normally gone to a club to discuss certain things about the breed. However, with modern technology we no longer need to leave the comfort of our overstuffed furniture to get the answers to our questions about anything pertaining to our breed. You can “Google” anything and you’ll receive a gazillion answers. You can go on a German Shepherd Dog e-mail list and there’s a world of knowledgeable people willing to help you. We’ve become a lazy society. I jokingly said to my friend, “Heck why go to a dog show? We can have a virtual dog show right on our computer!”
So lets take this subject another step further as my friend requested. If the clubs fold up, so do the shows. The clubs are the ones that are responsible for putting on the shows. No club…..no show………hmmmmm, I wonder where that would leave the AKC? Would the AKC become just be a place to register dogs? They would no longer be anything called an AKC registered show.
So my friend brings up a very good point to me in our conversation about shows. She says to me, next time you go to a show take a look around you. What do you see? Who do you see at these shows? She answered her own question……she said most of the people that go to these shows are over 50 years old! She continued by saying it is very rare to see any young people. Very good observation, my friend! Where is the youth in our breed? Oh sure we have the junior handlers that love to show. But what percentage of these kids will actually be the breeders and ultimately the future of our breed? Have we seen the last of the likes of the Covy Tucker Hill or the Fran-Jo kennels? Are the days of the big show producing kennels a thing of the past? Who will the next great German Shepherd Dog book be written about? Will the author have to rely on the great dogs of the past to fill the pages of his up coming best seller? Will there be anyone left to even be interested enough to buy his book?
Serious show people still hunger for those major producing shows every week-end. Without them they can not finish their dog’s American championship. So they telephone their friends, they announce it over the e-mail lists asking for people to help make a major at these shows. Sometimes they’re successful in getting the right amount of entries by maybe one or two dogs, only to be sadly disappointed when those one or two dogs don’t show up making the show not able to hold the major points. Where does the fault lie? Again it goes back to the specialty clubs. If we want to have major pointed shows, we can’t depend on calling our friends or soliciting people on the e-mail lists for their entries. It might work for one or two shows, but ultimately it will fail. The only answer in my opinion is to strengthen relationships with your club members so another club doesn’t die a slow death.
Someone else wrote to me yesterday proudly telling me how well her club is doing. Perhaps someone from her club can tell others how they do it. Tell them how they attract new members and how they keep those that they have ensuring that they come back time and time again. Give the membership a reason to show up and I believe they will. If people are made to feel that they are important and that they count for something, I believe they will show their “pretty little faces” there each month. We can’t ask people to come out each month to an atmosphere filled with moans, groans, whines and complaints every time they walk through the door. We can’t ask people to come out only to be ignored when they get there. Give people a reason to come out and I believe that they will. Make them feel welcomed. Answer their questions. Mentor them. There is no better way to get to people than to make them feel like they are needed. It makes them feel good and when people feel good, then they’ll come back to the source that’s making them feel that way. Act like you don’t appreciate them. Act like your can’t be bothered with them because you’re better than they are because you’ve been around forever. Then watch the walls come crumbling down and say good bye to the once great club that you helped build.
The new generation needs the older generation to help show them the way and to pave out a future to ensure that our beloved German Shepherd Dog is properly presented to the general public. The only way we can do this is by educating them. There is no better teacher to the “newbie” than the seasoned experts of the breed to help lead the way. If we truly love this breed, each and every one of us owes it to the “best dog on the planet” to ensure that the next generation gets it right! It’s not fair to die with so much knowledge inside us without sharing it with the next generation. You may not get your name in the history books, but what you leave behind ensures that the German Shepherd Dog is properly taken care of and his legacy for generations lives on. The breed will love you for it!
No longer is it true……”Give them a show” and they’ll come! I believe if we don’t start making showing dogs a fun and positive experience we will eventually see (like my friend suggested) only the geriatrics of the breed showing up. Then we can all sit around and complain about our arthritis, aches and pains without the worry of those pesky “youngins” (newbies) snickering and giggling at us.
Then one day, there are no more shows. The geriatrics no longer shows up because “Everyone’s gone to the moon!”
From the book: "FRIENDS TO THE END: THE TRUE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP".....Friends and life. Life and friends. The two are so tightly interwoven it's impossible to imagine one being remotely worthwhile without the other. As Bradley Trevor Greive points out, "there are very few truly solitary creatures on this planet. And most of them have serious personal hygiene issues." What makes friends so special? What does our choice of friends say about us? What sparks the best friendships and keeps them burning? In Friends To The End: The True Value of Friendship, BTG uses hit trademark witty narrative illustrated with irresistible animal photos to explore the daily magic we experience through our friends. Best described as a cross between his famously successful Dear Mom and The Blue Day Book, Friends to the End examines themes such as why we can't live without friends, how great friendships grow from humble beginnings, how to identify different types of friendship, what to do when good friends turn bad, and why it's all so worthwhile. "When I think back to all the really great or the horrendously bad times in my life," says BTG, "I can't help but think about how my friends made the former all the more enjoyable and the latter at least survivable. I want this book to help people appreciate friendship for all it is and all it can be." Friends to the End promises to have the same cultural impact achieved by his previous books. His modern classics The Blue Day Book and Dear Mom have been New York Times best-sellers and made the author a household name in more than 35 countries. BTG's seven previous volumes have sold more than eight million copies worldwide.
My rating: The importance of dog clubs: (4), The importance of mentoring: (4), The importance of friendships: (4)