I am home, finally from the 2013 CWCCA Nationals. It was a long trip, which I will write about in another post, and while not as successful as prior years, the results were close to what I expected. Unfortunately no really big brags on my own kids, although there were some nice wins…more on that later.
I saw the trip as an opportunity to scratch another thing off my bucket list, seeing the Grand Canyon, in conjunction with showing to a panel of Megan judges I hoped could appreciate my dogs. I saw a lot of the U.S. for the first time, and had fun at the Nationals with some great friends, and caught up with others I see only once a year. I will post pictures of some of the scenery, again in future posts, but the thing that struck the deepest chord with me, was something I would have never seen, had I not stopped in Elk City, Oklahoma because I was too tired to drive any further.
Binding Contract - by Bradford J Williams
After booking a room for the night, I asked where I could get a decent meal, and was directed into downtown Elk City on Historic Route 66. As I came around a bend, I saw this life sized statue in front of the Western Oklahoma Bank, entitled “Binding Contract” and thought “Wow!! I have to go back and get a picture of that!”. Even with only a quick glance, that statue touched something in me. The sheer simplicity of an agreement made and sealed with a handshake, made me wish that life could be that simple once again. Unfortunately, by the time I got dinner and left the restaurant it was too dark to get any pictures, and next morning I was on the road again at dark o’clock to complete the trip to Tucson.
All week questions about that statue kept flowing through my mind. What agreement were they shaking on? Was it something as simple as agreeing to pick up supplies for a friend, or as life changing as agreeing to marry off a daughter? I’m quite sure that whatever it was, both parties stood by their word, because back then a lack of integrity could do more damage to a man’s ability to survive, than almost anything else.
I did some research when I had internet in the hotel and found that the statue was commissioned by the Bank of Western Oklahoma in 2010, and was done by Bradford J. Williams. There is a smaller replica of the statue available. Unfortunately, it fell outside of my price range, so I have to just keep hoping to win a lottery so I can buy it.
So instead of heading home by my intended route through Denver, I detoured back to Elk City to grab some photos of the statue. Unfortunately the day was overcast as I raced the storm named “Walda” home – so the pictures are not as good as I hoped they would be.
In contrast to the simplicity of the action, the statue does have some amazing detail – from the twist in the lariats, to the soles of their boots and the knots in the rails of the cedar fence
I have dwelled on why this piece of art was so important to me. I think it hit me so hard, because of the lack of integrity I have found in dealing with so many dog show people. I have always said that dog show people are the best, and the worst people in the world. When they want something from you, they are your best friend in the world, but when you don’t agree, they can be the nastiest and most cut-throat. In contrast to these two men, a verbal agreement means absolutely nothing, and reams and reams of paper have to be utilized to capture what will happen in every single possibility in a contract, because if it isn’t written down and signed and witnessed, you can be guaranteed that one party will find an out and make life miserable for the other.
I don’t want to even think of the number of bitches, that I have allowed to live elsewhere, and never had the chance to breed, or never received payment for as per an agreement, whether that be having the bitch available to breed, or receiving a puppy in return. I have in all of my contracts that dogs cannot be sold or placed without my permission, and that has been done also.
The dog show world consists of a large number of cliques. If you remember the old Venn diagrams we studied in school, sometimes these circles intersected, and cliques had friends in common, sometimes there were even common elements in three or more subsets. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I consider myself “Switzerland”. I will not align myself with any particular group or political affiliation, preferring to see the good and the bad in all sides. Like these ranchers – I ride the fence.
In school I hung out with friends who were more studious, and with a wild group. The first group are still my friends, the other taught me enough about life that my own kids were never able to pull the wool over my eyes. When I first started breeding Irish Wolfhounds, I did the unthinkable combining lines from breeders who would not even consider giving each other the time of day. That gave me a line of substantial, sound dogs, that did a lot of winning for me for many years. Not everyone agreed with what I was doing, but again, good friends stuck by me understanding that my purpose was only to breed sound, healthy dogs with the best chance at longevity.
In Corgis, much the same has happened. After several years in the breed, I started to research on my own other lines, to bring in characteristics I wanted to change. While this did not endear me to some, it did allow me to breed dogs that have gone on to do some great winning. The problem now, is that others want to use my dogs in their lines, and I am left in the position of trying to sort out the intentions of others. It also puts me in a position I hate, of being in front of people so they can talk behind your back.
I had looked forward to Nationals, as a chance to see some of my special friends. I did get to spend time with a lot of them, others could not be bothered to give me the time of day. I wondered why, until I learned that gossip is being spread about me to damage my reputation. All I can say is that any of you are wondering what to believe and how to separate fact from fiction, is ask any of my long-term friends who have known me for 20 years or more. They will tell you that it could be me in that photo above. One of the things that I have learned dealing with people during this path in life, is that life can take almost anything else away from you – your money, your home, your loved ones – but the only thing that can never be taken from you is your integrity.
I wish more dog show people felt the same, that their word was gold. Too often, I have learned, it is pyrite – it bears a superficial resemblance to the real thing, but upon closer scrutiny it just lacks the same value.