“Come on” you didn’t really think I was going to write about cats today did you? We are here to talk about Gordon Setters aren’t we? I know you know who I’m talking about, those sweet, loving, kind creatures who share our home, hearth and heart?
Well, thinking about Gordon Setters, dogs, and dog shows and how kind dogs can be, and how thoughtless we humans can be sometimes I felt like, maybe, we could talk about starting a “Gordon Setter Breeder Kindness” movement this year. (GSBK – kind of sounds like a new Burger King sandwich doesn’t it?) Alright, seriously, what if we really started thinking about where we each would be without our fellow Gordon Setter breeders? I know that sometimes I feel like I have more in common with other breeders than I do with my family – what about you? And, aren’t many of our friends also – need I say it – Gordon Setter breeders? What if we were all alone instead? What if we were the one and only, lonely breeder?
As the only breeder
- we’d go home from the show with a ribbon, but no points, we were there, all alone, at the dog show.
- no other Gordon Setters to compare ours too – how will we know who’s are better?
- there would be no one at the dog show to congratulate us on our win – we’re there at the show all alone remember.
- actually we would win every time that way – but who would be there to care?
- no other breeders to bring dogs to the show – oops – no dog show now.
- who will breed their bitch to our stud dog?
- wait, how long will the breed survive before the gene pool becomes too small and inbreeding slowly destroys what’s left?
So I was thinking that maybe, if we decided to think differently about the bad things we might say, before we say them, we could start to fill our heads with thoughts of kindness instead. Kind thoughts, kind actions, they make us feel good, and that’s a win right? Our dogs you know, they don’t really care if they win or lose in the ring, they just like us to be happy. So let’s think about this, what we might choose to say or do, that may not be so very kind.
If we’re so desperate to sell our puppy that we trash talk another breeder under the mistaken notion that will seal the deal, should we stop instead to consider if we really needed to whelp that litter? If we truly believe our dogs are better than the rest then don’t we simply need to state their best qualities and the reason those qualities are valuable to the buyer? If we need to add to our sales pitch with statements about what’s wrong with another breeder’s dogs, are we instead questioning our own breeding’s value? Let me ask, do you like those political ads that are just trash talk about the opposition?
When it comes to our stud dog, well that’s not much different from selling a puppy is it? As a good breeder we know our dog isn’t right for every bitch, so why would we trash talk another breeder’s dog to increase the value and attractiveness of our own? Hey, did I mention that I despise those trash talking political ads? Tell me why I should vote for you, not why I shouldn’t vote for him. How about we just be kind to each other? It just feels better, for everyone.
And at the dog show, do we need to trash talk the winner when we lose? Is this simply to reassure ourselves? Do we point out the winner’s faults, disperse ugly rumors or maybe blame our loss on a political or a blind judge? Honestly, losing is hard, and it truly feels lousy sometimes, but kindness, well it does make almost everything feel better.
It seems so simple…being kind to other breeders…how about we make this the year we do just that?
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
5 thoughts on “OMG! There’s a Cat Fight at the Dog Show!”
Great essay! You never know who is listening to you or talking to you ringside – I was talking to a man, just casually, at ringside, commenting on the previous day’s judge. Turned out, he was the husband of the judge, and fortunately, I was saying nice things.
That is SO true. I have experienced that if you win, if you’re not part of the “clique”, they will bad mouth you and even make up lies about you, that the Judge “accidentally” overhears before you go into the ring. I have been accused of being a puppy mill by other breeders, because my dogs beat theirs, and I’m not a part of their self described “elite” group. I haven’t had a single litter out of that dog, or one of any breed in over 5 years. And God forbid that you buy a dog that the breeder thought was of mediocre quality, and it turns out so nice, that you beat their dogs in conformation.
The next worse thing that you can do is send a dog back because it has developed hereditary health issues. Breeders freak out, and call you every name they can think of, and will go through any legnths possible to blackball you.
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My favorite blog entry to date! During my short venture into the GS show world, I heard far too many negative comments about certain breeders, handlers and judges. What a wonderful reminder that competition guided by the common goal to continue to enhance this wonderful breed while at the same time building life long relationships is a win-win. Thank you!
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I guess I’ve been lucky. We do have a very nice group of Gordon people in my area, with very few exceptions. I’ve been to quite a few Nationals and have witnessed and heard comments ringside that do indicate poor sportsmanship, and have seen on tv during a national broadcast when one dog was loudly cheered as it moved around the ring and the number one dog in the country was given silence. That, to me, is also poor sportsmanship. If the judge didn’t notice that, I would have been surprised. These are dog shows, people, not world changing events, and to treat fellow exhibitors rudely isn’t dignified or nice. Karma is a female dog. If you don’t think the rest of us don’t notice the false camaraderie and then the backstabbing, you’re clearly wrong.
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All the things you mention are already happening, not because of breeders, but because of laws passed due to pressure by the animal rights movement that threaten to make breeding a footnote in history. Or maybe it IS the breeders’ fault, because if they worried less about their dogs’ success in the show ring and more about what’s taking place under their noses, they could stop this attack and be able to badmouth each other with impunity far into the future.
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