Spend enough time around the rings, and you will most certainly hear someone declare, “It’s just a dog show!” It is a sort of “go-to” when we want to calm tempers or shrug off a loss. The implied message is, “Why are you getting so upset about not winning? There are more important things in life.”
True. There are always more important things. We are not curing cancer, and we are not fighting on the front line in Afghanistan. However, showing dogs is what we do, and I come from the school where if you choose to do something, you should aim to do it well.
While showing in Orlando this December, I fumbled a piece of bait on the ground, and the judge looked at me and said, “Relax. It’s just a dog show.” Really? I’m pretty sure it was the biggest show of the year, with a lot on the line for a lot of dogs. The last thing I was hoping to achieve was to fumble my bait out of the ring when trying to get expression from my dog. It’s not just anything. It’s a dog show! It’s what we do.
Whether we participate as breeders, owners, professional handlers or judges, we have an investment into this sport, and we have a responsibility to uphold ethical practices and good sportsmanship. We work hard at all levels, and most of us take our involvement seriously.
What if the breeder planned litters with the mentality that the puppies would grow up to be just dogs? Would that breeder ever produce greatness? What if an owner was looking for just an agility dog? Would s/he end up with a dog that possessed all the right drives? What if a judge was looking for just a Doberman in the breed ring? Would he find the best animal? Naturally, the answer to these questions is a very unlikely NO.
As a breeder, I don’t aim to produce just a litter of puppies. I want it all: brains, health, beauty, biddability. As a handler, I strive for perfection in the ring – a well trained dog who stacks easily, uses his ears, moves on a loose leash, free baits and sells himself to the judge. And when exhibiting, I look for judges who try to find the best dog in the class every single time. This is not so much to ask from anyone in these roles, so let’s stop downplaying our sport.
The last thing I would want is for a professional handler or a judge to have the mentality that this is just a dog show. It’s what these people get paid to do – either present a dog to the best of their ability, or to evaluate breeding stock against the Doberman Pinscher’s very detailed breed standard.
Participants spend hard earned money, sometimes in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to achieve their goals. It is our responsibility in the dog show community to take our roles seriously and do the best we can every time. We need to elevate our sport and the people in it. Help new people get better; help them understand the sport and how to succeed.
This brings me to the content of this issue where you will find what I believe are some fantastic and fresh articles to help participants in our sports. Regardless of your chosen venue of participation, I hope you will find something useful here. Let’s all work hard this coming year to be understanding of our sport and of our fellow exhibitors and peers, and let’s encourage everyone to breed, exhibit, show and evaluate the very best Dobermans we can!
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2019 in, out, and around the rings!