The Harsh Truth About Why Our Sport Is Dying

By: Drew Deaton

Recently I have read several very well written articles on the “fall” of Dog Shows as a sport. The reasons targeted in these articles were all correct, they are all problems that do reside in our sport and it certainly would be nice to see them eliminated. However, are they the true reason our sport is dying? No. Now you are probably wondering by now what my credentials are to be so brilliantly informed that I could diagnose the problem that is killing our favorite past-time, our sport, for some of us- our livelihood.  Well as much as I hate to disappoint I am somewhat of a “newbie” to the sport. I am only 20 years old and have been showing for less than two years. I did not participate in Juniors, I hold no degree related to dogs at all, and no one in my family but myself has ever even seen a dog show. I am so new that you could almost call me an outsider…and this makes me the perfect person to tell you why it is so difficult to love this sport as much as I do.

Our sport is dying, stop attaching all of these excuses about the frequencies of shows and entry fees are too high for this and too much for that…though you are not incorrect…that is not the reason our sport is dying. Hear me carefully for this is not a metaphor…our sport, meaning its athletes, supporters, and donors are literally dying. I am talking about physical and spiritual death. The great breeders, the famous handlers, those who grew up with their family showing dogs…they are dying! Dog Showing once thrived in generations that were not this one… now that we are in this generation all of the old generations are slowly, literally dying. Our sport is not dying because it is simply a rich man’s sport…that is a lie, this is a sport than can be played in a financially smart way. No, our sport is dying because it’s people are dying. Ok- so how do we save it?

Obviously, there is no way for us to stop time from running its course…that is just beyond our control. So in anything, how is one generation replaced once they are gone? With a NEW GENERATION. “Oh but we offer Junior Handling at shows to reel the kids in!”…NO. Everyone reading this knows as well as I do that kids can’t just walk in with their dog and say “Hey, I think I want to try this! Sign me up mom!”… not even close. Juniors is a wonderful thing but if you really pay attention it is mostly children of parents who breed, show, or are even professional handlers themselves. Though they are young, that is not the new blood we need to target. We want to expand, we want to grow!

Now, if no one has ever told you, let me be the first. The veterans of this sport make it INCREDIBLY difficult for us newcomers to love this sport. Myself, I am only still around because I tend to ignore the way people treat me… not everyone is like that, especially not in my generation. If you do not know my generation well, we are extremely over-sensitive and we are offended by EVERYTHING. That is why it takes about 10 minutes for a newcomer of my generation to get ticked off at a dog show. I have tried to bring family members and friends that have never even experienced anything like a dog show along with me and they leave HATING it.  Let me tell you why, I don’t have all the answers but I guarantee you that with just a little thought, the more experienced folks may be able to figure the solutions out.

When I started showing I was merely helping out a friend of mine in Chinese Cresteds who was generously donating his time to teach me the basics. We were at a show one day, it wasn’t my very first show but it was of the first five, I was handling a small and timid Chihuahua client dog of his while he was in another ring. I waited very patiently right by the steward’s table with the number “9” wrapped around my left arm. I could not move away from her table because I was so nervous that I would miss my ring-time if I left. So I waited, finally my class came up but I did not really have a full enough understanding of the class system to know that was my class. As it turns out, the steward had called my number and she was an older lady with a gentle tone, I had mistaken her calling out the number “5” but she was actually calling my number, “9”. She called for a second time and I then realized my mistake and rushed in the ring, my nerves had tripled. As I fell in line to stack my little Chihuahua, a VERY well known handler in front of me turned around and remarked “How many times were you going to make her shout your number before you finally came in? Some of us have other dogs to show.”… I was appalled that someone would make such a remark to someone so obviously new, just because the steward had to call my number twice. The judge finally directed us to go around the ring. I stood up and looked down but the already timid dog that I was handling had all but curled into a ball and was immobile. He could tell that my nerves was completely shot. I tried my best to pep him up and and eventually we made it around the ring. After the class was finished, as I was walking out the Judge grabbed my elbow and stopped me… “Don’t you let these old women walk all over you” She said with a very tender smile. That judge is the only reason I ever set foot in the ring again. So this paragraph is for the handlers…what could you do differently to help a newcomer OR what could you be doing that might be turning away newcomers unintentionally?

To the breeders… Fortunately for my mentor in my own breed, this has not yet happened to me however I have seen it many times. “We all had our first dog” So many veterans have said to me or to friends of mine that are starting out. A friend of mine called a supposedly reputable breeder to obtain a show quality French Bulldog from her. They talked for months and went through the reference process, the interview process and finally this breeder agreed to sell my friend a puppy.  I took my friend to shows and we met a few “Frenchie” folks and observed their handling and their grooming. One very kind handler even showed us a few of his grooming tricks. She finally got her puppy and started showing him. She showed him well! She gaited him beautifully and had taught him to hold a stack very well- but she never won. Months later while at a show we ran into the same handler that had showed us the grooming tricks and we asked him “Why is this puppy not winning anything?” That handler whipped out his phone and pulled up the Frenchie standard and explained in exquisite detail as to why the puppy was essentially a conformation train wreck. My poor friend had no idea, nor did she have a mentor to help her so the breeder sold her a puppy for a show quality price that was deeply pet quality. I can understand if you chose not to sell the absolute best puppy in the litter to a newcomer, but giving them the worst of the litter just because they are new…Does that seem right? That friend has never set foot on a show site again and lives quietly with her PET frenchie, Rosco.

Now to the know-it-all, whether you are a vendor, breeder, handler, or even spectator. I will never forget first time I asked my mother to tag along to the dog show with me. My mother was holding one of my dogs ringside while I was competing in the ring at an outdoor show. The dog my mother was holding had a bowel movement while she was watching me, she had no idea that the dog had used the bathroom behind her. Suddenly, a ferocious vendor comes trampling between the rings and throws a “poop-bag” at my mother and shouts “It is people like you that ruin it for all of us!”.  IF I am somehow able to convince my mother to come back to a show, she sits ringside and she does not move. She will not hold a dog for me and she will not walk around. She goes straight from the car to the ring and back again while hating every minute of it. So tell me, if you were a newcomer or a paying spectator who just spent $20 just to park your car…would you come back?

To the owner-handlers (this is my category)… I am going to be bold with you because I have so much respect for you and love you dearly. STOP TELLING EVERYONE THAT IF THEY ARE NOT PAYING $1,000 PER SHOW TO HAVE THEIR DOG HANDLED PROFESSIONALLY THEN THEIR DOG WILL NEVER FINISH. If someone asks me “when are you putting her with a handler” again, I might just scream this at them. I have a shocking news update for the show world… some owners have finished their own dogs before. Yes it is true, there are some judges who do play favorites in the ring and put up their friends…don’t enter under those judges again and your problems are solved! An owner CAN finish their dog and an owner CAN be a great handler of their own dogs! Professional Handlers do win a large amount of the time, but has anyone stopped to think that it is because they are professionals and this is their lively-hood? The very definition of professional implies that they have the talent or skills to display a dog more professionally than a non-professional. Do not spread lies to newcomers about not ever being able to beat a handler. Owner-handler friends had me PETRIFIED to step into the ring when there was a major handler of my breed competing. Then a judge put me up with a 10month old puppy over two extremely nice adult dogs handled by two MAJOR handlers of my breed and I realized that is nonsense at just under 5 months of handling experience.

I could sit here and go on for days with examples of situations like these that I have encountered in less than two years of people who made me want to quit. I could never quit because I love my dogs and I love the experience of being in the ring with them. I enjoy it, I have so much fun and they LOVE it too! My point is that we have to allow newcomers the chance to get that feeling, the chance to fall in love with the sport like we all did. You never know who is there for their first show, or second or third. There is too much drama in the world today, I am telling you veterans that my generation has no time or tolerance to welcome in a new activity that is surrounded by drama. If we love our sport and if we want it to be passed on through future generations and not just die off, then we must change our atmosphere. We must extend kindness and grace to those around us, we have to have fun ourselves. Make friends with the newcomers and please, PLEASE if they ask for help or guidance…help them without cruel or smart remarks. Never forget, you had your first show too. What made you come back? What did you enjoy? What did you appreciate that people did? What did you not enjoy? Did you ever not want to show again-why? What have people done in the past that have angered you or upset you?

Ask yourself these questions and ponder… what can YOU do that might encourage newcomers and keep this sport alive? As a breeder, vendor, owner-handler, professional handler, or even as a spectator… How can you change our sport?

 

Drew Deaton

calidadekennels@gmail.com

120 thoughts on “The Harsh Truth About Why Our Sport Is Dying

  1. I was yelled at by a cranky competitor many years ago the first time I set foot in the ring because I took longer than she would have liked to get in the ring. It was extremely off putting. I still dread going in. I apologized to the ring steward and judge and mad my way to the ring. Where i was met with hostility. She was mad she hadn’t won in her previous class. I stumbled around the ring, making apologies the whole way. And despite my ineptitude the judge picked my boy. That infuriated the lady. She lost it. I cannot believe some of the things she yelled. Looking back now I know I clearly had a better specimen. She wanted to win even though her dog was not deserving of winning on that day. And resorted to name calling and yelling because he didn’t win. I’ve never encountered someone quite that irate directly with me since then. But it could be because I won’t go in the ring unless I absolutely have to. While sitting and watching the show, I have witnessed some appalling behavior. Bad mouthing people, singling out minor faults on dogs whose owners they dislike even when their own dog had its own faults. Then yelling the faults of the dog whose owners they dislike at the judge. Cursing, trash talking, etc. At the national specialty show I witnessed a family with young children get up and leave because they couldn’t take the negativity that was spewing from a few of the competitors and handlers mouths. We are not only loosing current breeders because they are dying. We are also loosing our current admirers and future breeders as well. All so a few people can try to win by any means possible. Even if their dog isn’t as deserving as another. And sometimes it works for them. But if at the end of the day that’s what it takes to win then they are clearly not concerned with bettering the breed. They are only concerned with winning. And that is what is killing our sport. I am lucky to have mentors and people to encourage and help me. If you are new try to find the people whose dogs you like. If you befriend them they will probably want to help you. Try to figure out who the good people are. This can be difficult. The honest and nicest people are usually very successful, because they are honest with themselves about the shortcomings of their dogs and have been able to breed to improve their stock for many generations. They won’t be throwing tons of money at advertising etc. But they will have been focusing their all on breeding a better dog. Bigger kennels have an easier time improving their dogs. They are not attached to one dog. If he doesnt turn out the way they want they will not use the dog. I would try to have at least one mentor with a bigger kennel. I’ve found several large kennel breeders in my breed willing to help anyone who is humble and wants to learn and will appreciate their help and commradary. Unfortunately there will always be the negative, unhappy, vengeful people in all of your life endeavors. People who will lie, cheat, start rumors, play dirty, talk behind your back, and use dirty tricks. If you can learn to ignore them and get a solid group of friends and mentors you will find support and success. I wish I could say it gets easier the more successful you become. But that only seems to infuriate these people. Unfortunately it is a few bad apples that are the reason our sport is dying. Make good friends and Don’t give up.

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    1. Jay” I have heard and seen some of the type of behavior you mentioned, and I’m shocked to see those same people at the next show because you would think there would be some type of warning or strike system in place to prevent and punish such bad unsportsmanlike behavior.

      I recently had something happen to me at a show, not as dramatic as being yelling at or called names to my face outside the ring, but I did have something happen that everyone knew about it before I even heard a word.

      An exhibitor who I would of called a friend was approaching other exhibitors while I was in the ring showing one of my three dogs that I was showing that day and from what I was told bad mouthing me.

      A little back story: this was a 3 day all breed event and the first two days I was lucky enough to go WD and BOW on one of my class dogs that only needed two points to be minored out, and this was a single point show.
      This was the first time I ever minored out a dog, so the thought never crossed my mind not to show him on the Sunday/ Last day of showing because I didn’t even think about letting the point pass on to someone else, in fact I also had another class dog entered, and another dog was entered that I owned the sire too and was very proud of and I could of kept my big blue boy in the crate and focused on the others, but again I was new to it, didn’t think about it and it was just habit showing this class dog.

      well I left the ring going WD that day and as soon as I walked out 3 people approached me one at a time to tell me this other exhibitor was bad mouthing me because I showed this minored out dog, according to what she told people he was a heavily minored out dog, that was not true but yes just the day before I did get that 9th point on him.

      What really shocked me and what put a bad taste in my mouth was that this same exhibitor talking about me, needed a place to setup and groom her day and I offered and moved over and stacked my own stuff to make room for her so she could do that. and this is what really upset me, was she was right by my setup and was watching as I groomed my class dog, and she never once approached me to tell me or even just ask me why I was showing him, I honestly would of put him in his crate and focused on my other two dogs. but instead she decided it would be better to tell everyone else instead of me. when I found all this out I decided to message this exhibitor to apologize to her for showing him, and to explain myself but I have learned a lesson in all of this, just because their friendly to your face doesn’t mean their not talking behind your back.

      We all know their out there, and I know if I wasn’t as tough of a cookie myself, something like this would of made me quit showing, but luckily for my breed and friend’s I’m not going anywhere! but I can see how that can ruin others thoughts and love for this sport!

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      1. Enjoyed your article completely. And I didn’t think it too long! I agree wholeheartedly and though still breeding and sending dogs out with co-breeders and friends, I don’t have the stamina anymore to put up with the meanness that occurs much too frequently! I’m one of the older folks anymore and find it too much on my nerves. Brave on young person and congratulations on a great article and telling the truth. I hope many more people see this and give it a lot of thought

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      2. People are people and have always been this way and acted this way. I got into the sport in 1992 so can’t claim to be an ‘old timer’ but our breed was going strong then and isn’t now. That would suggest you are correct about people being turned off for some reason or another but I don’t believe it as people don’t change but distractions and expectations of quick success do. There are a lot of issues raised in the article but they ARE NOT NEW. What is new is the lack of commitment to something that is essentially a hobby.So much easier to move on to something that doesn’t need daily care and feeding.

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      1. Interesting that you would infer all that from a brief statement about thinking the article was too long. I think you read way too much into the comment.

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      1. It is called feedback and free speech, no matter what your mother called it. Mothers aren’t always right.

        How someone takes something is not necessarily how someone states it.

        Remember one thing which your mother probably never told you: you can control how you respond and what you do, but you can’t control what another person does or says. So rather than thinking about the other person’s response, think about your response.

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      1. You think this person is rude because they made a comment that you disagree with? That isn’t rude. That is called free speech in this country. You are required to agree with everything someone says. Did you know that?

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  2. Most of dogs-shows are always full of weird, mean, dangerous breeders, ashame for the others good & responsible breeders…and, of course, for the doggies belonging to those mean ones.

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    1. This is really quite incorrect. This article speaks to the “bad apples” not the whole tree. Overall dog shows are really a pleasant gathering of people and friends who are responsible breeders. They are certainly not mean or weird, but there are a few bad apples that ruin it for newbies.

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  3. You younger generation folks, are far too tender for the show dog biz! Sorry to say, this ‘hobby’ is a ‘grow guts or get out’ kind of venture. This is the real world and it is not nice. Take all that the dog show biz throws at you as a learning experience and grow some mental guts to rise above the Sh*ts at the shows. And grow stronger with each negative encounter. And grow assertive in pursuing mentors and learning your craft! No one will offer you a carte blache plate of goodies to help you, you must first help yourself by changing your mental attitude. Mistakes happen, poop happens, growling by humans happen, take it in stride and learn from it. All opportunities of what is perceived as ‘negativity’ can teach you…how you do NOT want to treat people. So learn from these nasty folks. It will shape who you are in your own future. You can only change You. So don’t expect the world will change for you. You make your own history and your own philosophy. ~ AKC Breeder of Merit

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    1. My article agrees with what you just said. At the very beginning I said that my generation is too over-sensitive and the only reason I haven’t stopped showing is from growing tough skin and not listening to what people have to say. However, the other issues are addressed because it is certainly easier to encourage a few people at dogs shows to try and be kinder to newcomers than to try and change the over-sensitive attitudes of an entire generation… The latter is impossible, so why is it so terrible that we simply encourage those of us already in the sport to just be a little more friendly to the newbies?? The “get over it or get out” mentality is exactly why people are getting out- they’re following instructions by the people who clearly don’t want to make the effort to get them there. What I am asking could require less effort, if you don’t have anything nice to sayto someone just walk away or don’t say it and that alone could make a huge difference

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      1. It is not ok to be nasty to other people or to offer them the “advice” of “grow some guts or get out.” It’s sad to see people make that kind of statement and believe it’s acceptable that competition belongs outside the ring too, that’s the attitude which is destroying dog sports across the board. I’m not young, I’m old enough to be able to compete at least as well as anyone – breeder of merit or not – in the rudeness department but why? My dogs would be ashamed of me, I’d be ashamed of me; I’m there to have a good time with my dog, not to see how many people I can figurativly flip off for the weekend. I used to compete in obedience, then agility; it used to be fun.

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      2. Remember, people, how Conformation is designed. You must beat others in order to win. Did everyone forget that? Conformation is not pass/fail or get the highest score or just qualify. You must beat other people to win. That is the nature of the beast. That causes a dog-eat-dog (pun intended) world. If you dont like that, don’t play and quit whining.

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    2. I get so sick of this comment you have to have a thick skin to show dogs. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and it never ceases to amaze me how mean spirited some not all people can be. Why are we making excuses for and letting them get away with this behavior by saying suck it up and get a tough skin. No one has the right to bully other competitors. I don’t give a crap whether someone else likes my dog or not I’m paying for the judges opinion not yours. Yes we are all going to encounter “those” people but let’s not make it okay for them to keep treating people badly by telling newcomers get some guts. Sometimes the only reason I keep doing this is I have a lot invested in this sport and I happen to love showing my dogs. But there are days that even I ponder whether it is worth the crap that goes on.

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  4. Interesting article, some of this stuff certainly pertains to my sports too, agility, rally and especially obedience. I encountered more snobs at obedience trials, than anywhere else I have ever trialed, It got to the point I was ready to quit obedience a few times in the early years but stuck it out. Obedience is another dog sport that is seeing entry numbers going down.

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    1. That would not be because of the nature of the sport. It is because there are other sports that people also enjoy like Rally and Nosework, etc. The sport of Obedience is difficult and time consuming and demanding, and that is the nature of the beast. Many people don’t want to put in the effort it takes to do well and get titles. It has nothing to do with the attitude at shows. It is because the sport is demanding and difficult and time consuming and the vast majority of people don’t want to do that. Look at agility. That sport is loaded with snobs and attitude, especially at the AKC shows, and that why I don’t want to show. It is super, duper competitive and cut throat and demanding and some people show every weekend just to get titles and win and compete. No. thank you. I want to have fun with my dogs. I don’t want to do agility and get beaten up.

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  5. Great Article. I am much older than you and I wanted to share what gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the sport. When I was young, there were many AKC sanctioned Fun Matches. That was the place for a newbie to talk to people and try his hand at the sport. They were relaxed and fun. The next thing is that we had bench shows. As a newbie they were great. We could meet all the different breeds, and the owners and handlers had time to kill so they answered questions and were willing to spend time talking. I loved going to the bench shows. I truly miss them. (I enjoy taking my older grandchildren to cat and rabbit shows now because they still have bench type shows). Today I go to dog shows alone if I go. There is little to no seating for families to just come and enjoy looking at the different breeds. They are no longer observer friendly.

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      1. Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show at the Cow Palace in Daly City near San Francisco is one of only a handful of benched shows left.

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  6. The writer is correct! I went to one dog show as a spectator for a specific breed. I love how up close & personal you can get. I’ve dealt w/the same breeder for over 20 years and she was unable to attend/enter that weekend. I currently have her pick of the litter and wondered what it would be like if she decides to show our dog. I witnessed breeders, handlers and judges that were complete snobs, displaying extreme rudeness and just outright poor sportsmanship. It was actually embarrassing for adult women to act that way. One breeder/handler befriended my husband & I and we helped her hold her entrants while she showed in a ring. She was the recipant of the bad behavior I saw. She explained that this was part of every show because these same rude people are always showing in the same shows and many judges turn a deaf ear to this behavior. The specific behavior I referred to happened right in the ring while the dogs were being judged and the judge never said a thing. I am turned off from going to shows. If my breeder shows our dog I probably won’t go to the ring. I’ll help her but I too don’t wish to see this display of childishness behavior and most especially if it were to involve my breeder or my dog!!!

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  7. Your words are true, I would like to add to it, the children of today need this type of responsibility in there lives. Put down the video games and learn to care for a living animal that will show you unconditional love. Sadly us old folks are going, but it doesn’t have be be this way. Our world is in the hands of our children. Our sport teaches so much. This article only touches a very small area. When the mom and pop breeders are gone so will the quality of the breeds that the handlers are taking in. This is when the eye can’t lie. Alot more to add but I can’t change it all by myself. Step up and take action.

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  8. We have been owners/breeders/handlers since 1964. Some very valid reasons for the “shrinkage” in our hobby outlined in your article. Another is the competition from other hobbies/sports that are available to today’s young people.

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    1. Correct! In 1964 there was predominantly Conformation and Obedience. Now there is Rally and Lure Coursing and Barnhunt and Nose work and Mixed breeds and all kinds of great things. Remember the terms Survival of the Fittest. Purebred Conformation is no longer the only game in town. There are a long list of other fun activities with other dogs beside unaltered expensive purebreds from ego centered breeders.

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  9. Drew these issues have been ongoing since the sport started. I learned how to handle from several “old timers” in the sport, not just how to handle but all the crap that happens in and out of the ring. I’ve been knocked down, stepped on, my dog has been traumatized, my students have been traumatized & many people I tried to bring into the sport walked away because of this.

    If all you are experiencing is what you described then consider yourself blessed. I’m not saying you were treated correctly I’m saying you could have experienced worse.

    Try being body slammed at ringside by a contestant that was competing against you. Clumbsy? Maybe….the contestant that body slammed was a judge! Dogs have been stolen, poisoned, let out of their cages, all in the name of winning.

    If you haven’t experienced animals or yourself getting physically injured & it’s all been verbal or buying a pet at a show price….the sport has improved. Isn’t that horrible to even imagine that the abuse was worse.

    Thank goodness you haven’t given up. My family participated in training kids to show dogs through 4H.

    They showed 4H & AKC in obedience & confirmation. We let them decide what they wanted to persue. Some showed in Jr’s, some in regular classes & some in obedience. Some showed in all 3. We taught them the rules & the facts of how to watch out & protect themselves & their animals. Over the years about 10 went on to show, handle & maybe 2 became breeders.

    Bottom line…I don’t know of any sport where winning isn’t the main goal. Too many people are so focused on winning that being courteous has long been forgotten.

    You made excellent points. Hopefully you have made even 1 person cognizant of how to behave with fellow contestants.

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    1. “Dogs have been stolen, poisoned, let out of their cages, all in the name of winning.”
      And those things were always blamed on animal rights activists and it was co-competitors the entire time! That is great.

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  10. I am amazed at the people that keep commenting, “That is how it is. Suck it up and get a thick skin. I was treated worse, you are lucky.”

    To think that rudeness, bad behavior and just plain being an asshole is ok because everyone else needs to just tolerate it to pay their dues. WRONG

    You can pay your dues through time, dedication, education, observation, and commitment but no where should abuse be part of that. If you think it is ok to treat people that way while participating in this sport then you could be part of the problem.

    No where does the article mention a sense of entitlement or state that dues must not be paid.

    Earning respect, being treated with respect and simple kindness are not the same thing. You can be kind to someone and still ask that they earn your respect. Negativity is not sustainable in anything we do. It gets old. Many people have lived a life of negativity so they just don’t know any better. They don’t know that it can be better and that we can still be successful without being so ridiculously rude.

    I have made the statement many times that you have to have a thick skin in the world of dog shows. However, it was used in the context that you cannot take personally the gossip and obnoxious comments. That does not mean that I am condoning it. I just know that no matter how hard we try to be more pleasant and more helpful, there will always be someone the things that being rude, abusive, or snarky is just fine.

    Kepp on truckin’ Drew, you hit the nail on the head.

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    1. Any type of public competition requires a thick skin and that is all part of the game. Geez, look at figure skating. Who would have thought that could get down and dirty? Any type of public competition will have winners and loser and sore losers and obnoxious winners and everything in between.That is normal in all types of competitions. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

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  11. After reading the comments and after my friends recent assault right outside the ring by a rude smart alack person who thinks her crap doesn’t smell I wondered if a letter was written to the parent club who puts on the nationals about people like that (this person is a member) if they would do anything. It’s one reason I do not want to be a member because this person is a bully, bad mouths others. It’s a disgrace to the parent club!

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  12. This is exactly why I’ve never been interested in showing – I put up with enough of this behavior in my day job, I don’t need it in my hobbies as well.

    It’s so disappointing that show judges tolerate unsportsmanlike-like behavior right in front of them. Certainly if a judge or the club committee caught you talking like that to another competitor at one of my local agility competitions you’d be told it’s not acceptable, and if you continued you’d be asked to leave the grounds (and if you didn’t leave we absolutely would call the police).

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  13. I have been encouraging my grandaughter to get more involved but have not known how to explain to her that there might be times when other people might be rude or say hurtful things. Thanks for writhing the article it opens the dialogue so much better than I could have done.

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  14. Your article is spot on and it’s not just the younger generation that feels this way. I started out with a dog that was sold to me as show quality yet she wasn’t . I heard the remarks but I chose to ignore them and continue showing to learn. I did eventually get a mentor and have some nice dogs now. I have a nice bitch from the first girl who is obviously way better than her Dam. I have won and lost . I finished 2 of my mentors dogs and will be taking the first generation of my own lines out soon. So currently I am not well liked in my breed and I could care less because I am there for my breed I love showing my dogs . That is time for my dog and myself to have a moment regardless if we win or not. As far as bullys go I ignore them, and most times I do my best when I have such a “wonderful ” fan club.

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  15. This is well worth the read and it is not really overly long. If we do not encourage and nurture the newer generations and people that want to come in to the sport, we will lose the sport of dog. It is not only happening in the conformation world it is happening within the obedience and some performance sports venues. New comers to the sport of dog need to be carefully nurtured in the beginning. Age does not matter. A gentle and fun introduction in to the sport is so very important.

    I hate the word “Mentor”, I personally find it over used. I love the word teacher and they are not the same. Early in any sport we need a good teacher. We need someone to teach us (yes, we will all stumble), we later need a coach to cheer us. Later we will have acquired the skills to be confident and carry on. We need more Guruji’s* to help the new comers fly.

    *Guruji is a term used in India for the most respected teachers.

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  16. Allow spayed and neutered dogs into the ring to work toward the champion title, NOT a separate and unequal “altered champion” title, and watch entry numbers explode. Very simple.

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