Don’t You Dare Steal My Joy
Years ago, we took a plunge and showed a barely out of puppyhood pied boy at Westminster. Everyone knew that pieds never won at Westminster, just as everyone knew that the top winning cream dog was a sure thing to win breed.
I’ll never forget the moment that the judge pointed to Rebel for Best of Breed. I instantly burst into tears, and just as instantly apologised to everyone around me for being such an idiot. The owner of Perry (the dog everyone was sure would win), congratulated me soundly, and told me to ‘go ahead and cry!’.
By contrast, a little later that afternoon I ran into the owner handler of another dog we’d beaten, who said to me scornfully ‘It’s amazing what some judges will put up, isn’t it?’. All these years later, and it’s their scornful dismissal of our win that I remember almost as clearly as I do the joy.
I almost never re forward things, but in a time when so many people complain about a lack of sportsmanship in conformation showing, these are really words to live by.
I’ve never forgotten what I was first told about showing – you can always find something to compliment in another person’s dog, and you can only hope that they’ll do the same for you.
DON’T YOU DARE STEAL MY JOY
by Connie Cleveland
On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband asked me how I wanted to
celebrate. I asked that we take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother
and one of the greatest of all the great southern ladies, out to dinner with
At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a diamond ring. It was
gorgeous and I was speechless, but even as I thanked him, I worried about
the expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he knew that the next
line belonged to my grandmother, my husband excused himself from the table.
He was barely out of sight when she reached across the table and grabbed me
by the shoulder, “I know what you’re thinking, I know you think he couldn’t
afford it and it’s too extravagant. I don’t care if he had to put a second
mortgage on the house to buy it, don’t you steal his joy! It’s beautiful.
Accept it as the token of his love that it is and say nothing about how he
shouldn’t have bought it for you.” Then she repeated, “Don’t you dare steal
That was the end of the conversation. She sat back in her seat, smiled at my
returning husband, and we had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my
reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come off my finger, but most
importantly, I learned a wonderfully important lesson, never to steal
another man’s joy.
Are you a joy stealer?
“You know if my dog hadn’t gone down on the sit, I would have won the
class”, said, unfeelingly, to the winner.
“I sure didn’t think your dog worked that high a score.”
“I can’t believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup and her dog would beat
“I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great performance, ” said to
“Isn’t that judge an idiot? I can’t believe the dogs he put up!” said to the
“Boy, aren’t you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn’t here today or you might not
“You passed that Master test because the water blind was so easy.”
“That was the stupidest set of water marks I’ve ever seen. No trial should
end that easily,” said to the winner.
Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors? Do you tell them their
goals are too lofty and their dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful
or trying to keep them from accomplishing something that you never had the
ability or perseverance to do yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal
joy by destroying the dream.
“No Basset Hounds get UD’s,” said to the owner of the Bassett in Utility
“I’ve never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts and finishes”, said to
the owner of the Rottweiler practicing fronts and finishes.
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and a Master Hunter? Do you
know how few people have ever done it?” said to the first time dog owner
setting out to do both.
When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field championships and 65
OTCH points including all the necessary first places, someone had the guts
to come up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say, “No dog will ever
be a field champion and an obedience champion.” My jaw drops when I think
about it. Isn’t it unfortunate that I remember this attempt at stealing my
joy much more than I remember all the cards and letters and congratulations
I received when those last 35 points were earned?
If you are willing to destroy someone’s dream, perhaps you don’t realize
that it is the JOY of pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated,
not just reaching the accomplishment.
My husband and I travel and compete together. I remember an event, early in
our relationship when I watched his Doberman fail articles. “Darn it, ” I
said, as he came out of the ring,” she didn’t even try to find the right
one!” “Oh”, he replied, “but, weren’t her heeling and signals wonderful?”
Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was celebrating the improvement
on the exercise that had been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the
failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have learned that the best
response to a questionable performance, “What did you think?” That way, if
the handler is excited about some aspect of the performance, you can share
that excitement. If the handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can
share the disappointment. You are safely removed from being a joy stealer.
I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your dogs in (the coming
year). Undoubtedly there will be moments of disappointment as you venture
through the landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks. Remember that
the joy of the journey is worth the difficulties along the way and don’t let
anyone steal that joy. Guard it well and at he end of the road you can own
it and revel in it with all the other memories of the trip.
May I please cross post with a link to the more civil bulldog list?
BTW, pups look great in yesterday’s pics 🙂
Of course 🙂
Is that Bulldogx-l? I was on the original version… did you know it was the FIRST dog related mailing list? As in, first ever?
Nah, it’s Best of Bulldogs http://www.network54.com/Forum/469817/
Bulldogx-1 morphed into something else I believe.
I held off becoming active online, but it is no surprise to me that bulldoggers adopted it early on. 🙂
I appreciate the sentiment. I’ve always admired people who can give an honest critique of a dog, even if that means telling the owner the dog is not the King of England, without hurting the owner’s feelings. We need more honesty in the world of dogs but if it isn’t delivered with sincerity and sensitivity, it will be worse than having said nothing.
.-= YesBiscuit´s last blog ..Book Raffle =-.
We need more honesty in the world of dogs but if it isn’t delivered with sincerity and sensitivity, it will be worse than having said nothing.
One of things which bothers me the most are people who excuse their cruelty by saying “I’m just being honest”. When an excited newbie asks “What do you think of my puppy?”, answering “his angles are horrid, his muzzle long, his ear set is abysmal and his markings appalling” might be honest, but is it kind? Does it further the sport, and encourage them to continue?
I think there’s a great deal of difference between an experienced dog person saying sincerely “Give me your honest critique”, and an newbie who basically just wants you to agree with them that their dog is super awesome. I’ve learned that I can almost always find something nice to say about a newcomer’s dog that will be encouraging, without being egregiously dishonest. In other words, instead of saying “his angles are horrid, his muzzle long, his ear set is abysmal and his markings appalling” , I’ll say “He’s sure happy to be here, and look at his lovely feet – I do like a nice, tight foot on a Frenchie”. Or words to that extent.
Seriously, people say that shit?
I’m not being facetious. I lost interest in canine competitions decades ago when SAR took over our lives. I remember a lot of people being jerks — but seriously?!?
The folks who are both my friends and compete with their dogs are gracious and sportsmanlike humans, so I got that sampling error there.
SAR handlers, especially the persistent wannabes, can be catty, but nothing like those examples.
I’m supposed to be the hard-bitten cynic that can be shocked by nothing any longer — but seriously?
.-= H. Houlahan´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning =-.
Seriously, people say that shit?
God, those weren’t even the worst examples. I once heard someone tell a newbie who’d just won breed that “if they had any self respect, they’d give the ribbon back, because their dog didn’t deserve to win”. I’ve seen people at their best, and some jerks whose attitudes and actions explain the whole ‘dog show people are ignorant snobs’ thing completely. I also once saw a rather well known breeder tell a nice couple who had obviously come to the show to talk to breeders to ‘stop wasting her time asking about pet puppies’. So much for the whole ‘go to shows to learn about breeds’ thing we push on people.
Of course, I also remember hearing and seeing some possibly worse stuff at horse shows, so it’s not dog specific.
I was told once by an older lady whom had bred and competed in many shows that at the end of the day she may not take home the ribbon but still went home with her best friend….its too bad that people could not be more like their dogs, it does not matter to our dogs whether we have a bad day, or dress funny, we win or lose they love us anyways.
This post is all to true of many of the avenues of competion in the dog world to me I am my best competion and it truly does not matter what anyone else thinks because to have the love of a good dog is all I need.