There has been unrest in the German Shepherd Dog community for quite some time now. I suppose it’s not unlike the unrest in the rest of the country. But I feel it deep down in my bones. It’s like there is something in the air that we breathe. A general state of unhappiness perforates that air. You can’t touch it. You can’t smell it. But nevertheless it’s there.
Like most of you I have access to communicating with the rest of the German Shepherd Dog community through e-mail lists, Facebook, and the good old fashioned way of on the telephone or in person. People are not as enthusiastic or excited about a new litter or a show coming up like they once were. Negativity has replaced hopefulness and the anticipation of a “new star” that is born. Some breeders are closing shop or at least cutting way back. The days of the big show dog kennels are becoming a thing of the past. More and more breeders are devoting their time and effort into helping with the rescue efforts. Some people just enjoy their dogs by training them for obedience work and then others still are just enjoying them as their devoted and loving pets.
When Specialty clubs close their doors and it becomes harder and harder to find a major pointed show, many people have become discouraged and don’t want to put in the extra work looking for a major. It’s almost like the German Shepherd community has taken a nap. Will they wake up and prosper and shine again? Or will they find other things to take up their time? Oh their love for the breed will never waver, but perhaps they have discovered that there are other ways to enjoy their dogs that they never did before.
Well known kennels tell me that they don’t want to show anymore and I laugh looking at their success record questioning their decision. But the last laugh is on me. They’re serious. When they tell me that they can’t even sell their top show puppies because there isn’t any show homes, then I realize that they are very much serious. What’s the sense in putting thousands of dollars into a breeding and you don’t have the show homes to sell them to? For some of these people they are now using local stud dogs or the ones that they have in their own kennels. It’s become a thing of economics and it’s forced some breeders to rethink their breeding programs.
Baby Boomers are now hitting their senior years and in some cases it has forced some to look at their priorities a little bit more. Let’s face it, housing and feeding a kennel full of dogs is expensive. And let’s not forget the wear and tear on our aging bodies. Even if we do age well, we’re still not like when we were in our twenties. And if you are not breeding these dogs like you used to, then you are spending lots of money to keep them comfortable for the rest of their lives. Many wisely decide to find loving, forever homes for their dogs rather than have them waste away in a kennel all day long. It has brought some people to their knees making the decision to let some of these wonderful animals go, but economics helps make that decision a little easier for them.
I have a few personal friends that have changed their view on breeding and showing dogs. All have been successful in their own ways……some in very big ways and others in smaller ways, but successful nevertheless. When I hear the words like, “It’s no longer any fun” or “Nothing excites me anymore” I immediately think that this is just a phase that they are going through. They’ll lay low for awhile and come the spring, “show dog fever” will hit them once again. Hey maybe that’s it. It’s the winter time and some people do tend to become a little more melancholy during the long, cold winter days. But I’m assured by them that no it’s not a seasonal blue period in their lives. It’s almost as if they are looking for greener pastures to explore. Some of them are all “showed out!”
The other thing I hear an awful lot of is the lack of support from the established breeders and exhibitors towards the “younger version” of themselves. Without a welcoming community for new people to come into, I’m afraid a hostile environment will only leave them cold and leave them never walking back into a show ring again. The days of noses up in the air, “I’m better than you,” has died a slow death and right along with it the very community of the future of the show dog. It can’t exist without the people needed to support it.
Will my friends and those others that are leaving the breeding and showing of the German Shepherd Dog behind “come to their senses” again or will their common sense prevail? Will they buy that little red sports car and vacation on Paradise Island spending their senior years sipping on Pina Coladas and partaking of tropical delicacies? Probably not. Will we still have things to talk about now that dogs are no longer a major focus of their lives? I hope so.
Our love for the German Shepherd Dog brought us together and a friendship was formed because of our shared interest and love for the breed. Hopefully that friendship will endure because we truly care about one another. They’ll probably still be German Shepherds in our lives even if it’s one of the “oldsters’ lying by our rocking chair, or just the memories that reach out to us from the pages of our photo albums. The dust might collect on the show win pictures hanging on our wall, but it will still be a reminder. We will remember because it was a good time to be in dogs and although the applause has come to a halt, the memories of it still linger in our mind and we remember it was the best time!
From the book "MY SO-CALLED FREELANCE LIFE"...."Since we’re all sh**ing our pants over the current economic situation, this book couldn’t come at a better time. My So-Called Freelance Life saunters its way through the ins and outs of becoming a successful solo professional, whether you’re a newly graduated 20-something trapped in a monotonous cubicle job or a new mom looking for flexible hours. Having accumulated a great deal of experience on the topic, Michelle Goodman (author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide) leaves no paperweight unturned, explaining how to get started, maintain a budget and schedule, gather/weed out clientele, and legally cover your a**. Goodman includes a bevy of relevant links, contacts, organizations, and advice on everything from negotiating your hourly rate to when to quit working for the Man. While her book thoroughly covers every fundamental career intricacy you can imagine, wit and hilarity are also seated firmly within. (She even quotes Peter Gallagher on The OC, thus actualizing the poetry of my heart.) Not only is this book an incredible guide on how to get started, but it’s also inspiring and oddly comforting. “You can’t hitch your entire creative career on one big break—or one fat failure,” Goodman writes, “you have to keep moving forward, reaching for bigger and better.” It’s a book you will feel compelled to keep in your personal library (probably between your college dictionary and your religious tome of choice), or you can be like me and sleep with it in your arms."
My rating: Retiring from dogs: (1 - 4), Developing other interests: (4)