Dog Shows and Cat Fights

Had a great time at Nationals: learned a lot, saw some amazing dogs and even more amazing friends.  Someone even took a picture of Kunga and me in the ring!

But one thing marred the whole experience: the general level of viciousness among some attendees.  As I stood/sat ringside, I heard astonishingly mean comments about dogs in the ring; as I walked around the vendors I got an earful of ugly gossip about people.  I overheard a nasty comment about my dog, and had one brazen person say something really horrific (and untrue) about my dog to my face: all before Kunga had even had the chance to show! I’m not alone in having that kind of vitriol spat at them or about them. I stood next to someone whose bitch was in the conformation ring and heard malign comments about her from a person nearby.  Funny how that commentator didn’t mention the fact that the bitch had done spectacularly well in rally a few days earlier.

Make a stupid, cutting remark at ringside and Sod’s Law says that the person it’s aimed at is standing unseen behind you.  It can be devastating even if you don’t intend to hurt.  This is exactly the kind of thing that puts newcomers off our sport when they experience it themselves.

Anyone who lives in the real world knows that mean-spirited, small-minded gossip is an epidemic.  At the office, at the grocery store, in the PTA, in the park, even at church or temple (!) you can hear people attack others’ reputation, appearance, or actions.  The dog show world isn’t uniquely bad in this way, it’s just like any other gathering of people engaged in an activity they care about.  And when we care about something, our egos get involved and somehow interfere with the brakes between thought and tongue.  I suppose it’s normal to bolster the sense of self by putting others down, and to ingratiate ourselves with an “in” group by agreeing with their opinions and making even more cruel remarks about someone outside.

Most dog shows are not invitationals: everyone’s paid the same price to bring their dog to the ring to get an opinion on it or give it the chance to perform. I think we ought to let the judge do the job of passing judgment.

I guess it’s useless to plead, with Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”  I’m not going to change other people’s behavior or human nature.  But this is a pledge to myself that I will try to act differently.  I want to be the kindest person at the ring, not the most evil.  I hope my friends and club members will pull me up if they hear me going off the rails, and remind me that all of us adore our dogs and don’t deserve officious or vile remarks about them in any context.



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  • Tai Nelson-Barnes

    I totally agree with you. This is our first Dane and we didn’t make it to Nationals, though it was only 3 hrs away due to Amo not being “ready” for everyone else. In that big of a venue it would have been to much for us and god forbid he does ONE thing wrong and there goes your name and his. So its just easier to keep him out of it. I have been showing Boxers since 2007. Not long but long enough to see the hatred and meanness that goes through the ring, and also the judging of the handler instead of the dog. But that is something else. I love watching my dogs in that ring, I don’t care if I receive a 4Th to a 1st, all my ribbons are displayed equally among my dogs names, and I am happy with each one of them. 🙂 You should be proud of what you do out there, or what is the point anymore?

  • Midge Leon

    I understand your feelings and I am behind you 150 %. Every thing you said i have heard & I resent the remarks for my fur baby.People are narrow minded and cruel b/c they believe they have the ultimate dog.(all dogs are beautiful & special in their own way)I actually had some one say to me(some one I didn’t know & for that matter didn’t want to know)she wouldn’t give a certain dog eating room in her cruel is that & i am sure and know worst things have been said.I am appologizing to all the entries and beautiful dogs for the nasty ignorant & mindless people who should not be exhibitors in a beautiful sport for beautiful dogs & loyal exhibitors.

  • Shirley Struble

    Funny I do not hear the comments but I do not hang around to talk to the people that share them. And when I am talking to someone who starts to talk about anyone not in attendance I ask them not to continue. Gossip takes at least 2 willing participants. And for me to hear what might be said about me I would have to listen to those same folks. I am very happy in LaLa Land. I do not slow down to listen if it is about me or about someone else. Call me PollyAnna but I find the Dane folks to be very supportive and helpful to someone that has come into the breed relatively recently and handles her own dogs. I will have a very honest response for anyone that asks my opinion and I have made people mad with that but it is right out there in front for them to see and hear. I love not knowing!