I confess I’m not sure how to tell this story, though I’m sure it must be told just as I’m sure it must be read. To begin you should also know that I’m positive that kind, generous, moral and ethical dog people far outnumber the bad eggs. So, that’s not where this story leads, to the denouncement of dog clubs or dog people, even though it is about a few dog people who behaved badly. People who continue still today, behaving badly toward a fellow club member. People who would harm an innocent, unselfish dog loving person.
This is a true story about people who love purebred dogs. The name is changed to protect the innocent so I’m calling the story’s heroine Joy. I won’t name wrong doers, but do hope that those people just happen to read this story and recognize themselves. Maybe with any luck, some will change their behavior, for the dogs and the sport. If they don’t change, maybe some of you will call them out when you witness their bad behavior. Maybe together we can force a little change for good, stifle bad behavior in our rank.
Many love affairs begin by chance, a serendipitous event that changes the direction of our lives, melts our hearts and brings us joy. A walk in a field leads to the recovery of a stray dog brought home to safety and shelter. When the stray’s owner isn’t found this happenstance blossoms into a love affair with the breed because the stray had stayed, becoming a beloved pet. Two is better than one as all dog lovers know, so Joy acquires a second puppy from a well-known dog show exhibitor and breeder. The typical contacts between breeder and pet owner carry on in the early part of puppy’s life, but those contacts dwindle to nothing as both go about their busy lives. The years pass with little contact between these two casual acquaintances, Joy and the breeder.
Joy commits herself to supporting her breed by joining dog clubs, her breed’s parent club and a couple of the local breed clubs. She contributes time and financial support to rescue efforts and serves as an officer for a local breed rescue. Joy is one of those members fondly referred to as a pet owner. She is one of thousands, heck maybe millions of pet owners who support AKC parent clubs.
Not being involved in dog competitions, Joy is blissfully unaware of the political maneuvering, power mongering and gossip that occurs among that group. She knows nothing of the fighting and controversy that can darken AKC dog sports. Because dog club leaders are often selected from among people who participate at AKC dog events, they sometimes bring their competitive penchants and accompanying power plays along impacting the leadership of a club. Rarely, if ever, is a pet owner included among the ranks of parent club leaders. Rarely, if ever, is a pet owner aware of the controversy or competitive power plays among club leaders.
When Joy reads a blurb in the club newsletter seeking a qualified member to fill an officer vacancy, she recognizes that she owns the skill-set needed to fill the job. Wanting to help, she volunteers. Joy had no attachments to any individual, had no preconceived notions, and had no contact with any of the leaders. Joy had no dog in any fight, so to speak. Joy is simply a pet owning member of the club, enjoying life with her dogs, unaware that any controversy existed in her club. Joy just happened to notice that work needed done for the club and she was willing to offer her help. Joy was a pet owner, unaware of back channel politics, power mongering and gossip. She innocently volunteered.
When called upon she joins the club’s Board to fill the vacancy. Joy believed she’d been asked to join a group where each held the commitment that what was said and done would be about taking care of the club and giving back to the dogs.
If only this were a fairy tale and not a true story. In a fairy tale moral acts would prevail. Joy would marry the prince and together they would rule over the people with dignity, grace and justice for all. The village would stand united while puppies run happily through fields and the children laugh and play. And, there’d be sunshine, and rainbows and unicorns…yes, let’s have some unicorns too.
This story actually happened though, so we face the reality that some people do behave badly. In a true story a white knight doesn’t ride in to save the princess, because sometimes, in a true story, people cave to their own self-serving mission declaring it for the greater good. They mislead, they lie, and they distort the truth to achieve their personal mission, to serve themselves. Their allegations are false but repeated anyway to any who will listen. Unrest is sewn with lies stitched into stories whispered mouth to ear. Their personal mission is crafted to harm, to sew unrest, to lead the villagers, pitchforks in hand to the castle to unseat their enemies. Harm is done merely to serve the selfish needs of a few.
So, a few people, needing to drive controversy, depict Joy, a selfless volunteer, as a political pawn. They tell this story because they think, they don’t know as a fact, they only think she’s consorted with others. Their stories, their false allegations and their lies are spread among members to cause harm to Joy and controversy in the club.
Now mind you, Joy isn’t aware that her integrity is under attack, and most certainly doesn’t know that nasty gossip about her is spreading rapidly among the members. A few club members, acting out in a wicked way have twisted the motive behind Joy’s selfless act simply to create drama that would promote their own personal agendas. Joy doesn’t know about the gossip channels used by exhibitor members, she’s a pet owner who goes about her work unaware of this behind the scenes plot.
Why did they choose to focus an unprovoked attack on Joy? Why was Joy singled out, dragged through the mud and into the midst of a controversy she never knew existed? The connection they used to craft their lies, the one and only small shred of truth in all that story telling was that once, years ago, Joy acquired a puppy from one of their targeted foes. That’s right, they aimed an attack at Joy because she once acquired a dog from a person they believed was their nemesis.
Wouldn’t it be grand if I could tell you the mean-spirited garbage and gossip ended there? Sure, there was some dirt thrown about, but our Joy, even after learning about their attack, ignores the fracas and goes amicably about her work supporting the club. Wouldn’t it be nice if it all stopped there? If there was no more harm, no more fouls?
Nope, didn’t happen. Joy, who never meant nor caused harm to anyone in any club, is still under attack today by a few exhibitor members, those who do so love to stoke controversy. She continues to receive derisive emails ladled with snide remarks from those who simply want to hurt her. Some people still gossip when they’re in a group, and she’s often a target of their gossip.
In my eyes Joy is a heroine. Joy is strong, intelligent, kind and giving. Joy is a dog lover devoted to giving back to our canine friends and her club work is truly motivated by her devotion to the dogs. Joy won’t allow petty human antics to affect her, nor would she ever stoop to such tactics. Joy lives by the creed that for dog clubs to survive and breeds to flourish we shove all that human nastiness firmly aside, choosing instead to enjoy time devoted to productive activity shared with the kind and compassionate dog lovers who are are abundant in our clubs.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ