Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What dog showing should be about

The following was sent to me by Ann Key. I thought that it was a particularly nice story. It may be true or not, but it gives a good feeling to me as it indicates how the sport of showing dogs is supposed to be.

"Yesterday, I experienced a very unusual thing indeed. It might restore someone's faith in humanity! I know it did mine.

As with all forms of competition, there comes a certain amount of ambition, goal grabbing, disappointment, anger and even revenge in extreme cases. Some of it, is just the nature of competition, the majority of it is just malice. Dog showing is no exemption.

Unfortunately, all too often I have stood at ringside and heard malicious comments, bitching and bickering. Dog show people can be very cruel to each other sometimes. I have on occasion been the brunt of these comments, but that's another story.

Well, yesterday I had a breath of fresh air, as it were. I was stewarding at the Rough Collie Club of Ireland's Championship show. It's a relatively popular breed here in Ireland. Always a big entry. They had a wonderful judge from the U.K. This lady has been in the breed since 1949. So, it goes without saying, I was pretty privileged to steward for her.

Anyway, just before the Novice class, one of the club official's came into the ring and, I overheard her tell the judge about the one entry in the class. I thought it was unusual that there was only one entry in the class, but later found out the reason why!

I called the class, and, in walked an old man and his Rough Collie. I've only ever seen this man at our St. Patrick's Day show. He's an old man, rough around the edges and, well, his dog, is really unkempt by show standards. He marched proudly into the ring with the dog on a great big thick rope lead!

While the judge was going over the dog, I was filled in on his story. I was told that he lives in an old folks home in Galway. (The other side of Ireland.) He has no family left living and no visitors at the old folks home. He's been showing this dog for eight years only ever on St. Patrick's Day or the Club show. He'd traveled 150 miles on a bus yesterday morning. Which takes about 5 hours in Ireland. The nurses in his home, usually phone the club to tell of his departure, and the club usually phone back when they spot this old man at the show. He has only ever shown the dog in Novice, and people over the years never compete against him.

The nurses told the club officials that when he wins a rosette at a show he wears it for weeks at home in the old folks home. The dog lives with him at the home and, is quite a celebrity "Show dog" with all the residents. The pride and joy of this man's life. He spends half the year, telling people about the last dog show and the other half of the year, looking forward to the next one!

Anyway, the judge was so considerate to this man. And, boy was he proud to show his dog off. When the judge asked could she look at the dog's teeth, "Oh yes," the man replied and instructed the dog to "Smile." With that the dog showed off a perfect set of choppers! The judge replied "Aren't you a clever dog?" With that the man said "Oh, he is very clever, he'll shake your hand too if you like!" I couldn't help smiling when I heard this, and full credit to the judge, she shook hands with the dog.

The dog won first in the class and every exhibitor at the show, gave this old man and his dog a standing ovation. He was cheered and clapped as he did his own lap around the ring. People came over to the ringside to congratulate and pat the man on the back as he left the ring. Talk about Elvis leaving the building, this man was certainly the king when he won his class. He was just so proud of his accomplishment. He lapped up every minute of it.

It was the first time I'm sad to say that I've seen people being genuinely nice at a dog show. They really made this old man's day. Possibly his year! Heaven help the residents at the old folks home when he returned home last night. Not only did he win a rosette but also won a great big trophy. I'm sure it will take pride of place on the mantle piece.

Isn't this what dog showing SHOULD be about?? Giving people like this old man a day out to enjoy the only family he has. His best pal, his dog. A memory for an old man to hold on to, to brighten his day, something to share with his friends at the old folk's home? Something to be proud of, however small the achievement?

Anyway, that's the story, just a thought, an observation and possibly an inspiration to us all? I know it's one of the happiest memories I have of a dog show." Author Unknown


Anonymous said...

What a great story! I had not checked your blog for several weeks as you seem to be having a busy time with not much opportunity to post. I live in Indiana, and share a house with my sister, a black lab puppy and two cats. I look forward to reading more from you...you have real talent for writing! Laura

Anonymous said...

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