In one of the groups to which I belong because of the Cardigan connection, there have been a few interesting posts on Sportsmanship in various media – newsletters, chat groups, etc. I have no idea about the events that lead to the posts even though I do know the writers. The future of dog shows as we know them is in jeopardy, and reasons such as too many shows, low expectations of success due to professional handlers, uneducated judges, have all received a portion of the blame along with poor sportsmanship.
Among dog people I have seen the best and the worst of the dog show world. But there have also been many, far too many examples of poor sportsmanship and I hate to say it, but most have come from this same group.
Here are some of the examples that stick in my mind…..some from a very long time ago, some more recent.
November 1996 – As the judge, R. Glendinning pointed to Hunter for Best Puppy in Group, I saw another Cardigan person directly across the ring point their finger down their mouth and make a gagging motion to the person next to them. They then hurried around the ring to come over and hug me and say what a lovely dog he was and how he deserved the win. Really???
February 2000 – Megan was 5 months old, and I took her to the Ontario Breeders show to get her used to the noise and commotion. While there I asked a group of Cardigan exhibitors if they would be entering the Orangeville show, which was the first show she would be old enough for. I was told “Oh no! The judges suck! But we will be entering Credit Valley (the week after) because Stan and Eve (Whitmore) are judging” So I entered Megan just for the practice, since shows were less than $10 a day back then. Was I ever shocked to see EIGHT other class dogs entered and she went BOW/BP all three days putting her at 9 points. At Credit Valley the only other entry was a special she defeated to finish her championship.
August 2012 – I was allowed to be show chair for the Canadian National specialty ONLY if I agreed that Dolly and Dragoon would not be shown (never before or since has the show chair been told they cannot enter dogs). I am not saying – I could not handle them (there is no way I would have shown being the chair – I was told flat out that they could not be ENTERED. The day of the show, was extremely hot, and our ring was used for the Junior Handling Zone finals which ran overtime. Rather than help us try to get ready by offering any assistance to Beth Bowman and myself trying to sort through the mounds of class trophies, people sat ringside complaining and saying “When are we going to get started?” They could see what the delay was – it was nothing that we caused, or that could be helped. When people got their class prizes which Kathryn Arthur & I had gone to a lot of trouble to acquire, they did nothing but complain. Each class placement received a stainless steel bucket, with the show logo, a 4′ kennel lead in the class placement colour (blue, red, yellow, white), and a bag of treats. Prize quality went up from there, but exhibitors complained that the leashes were only 4′ long. I still use some of them to this day, and I don’t know how short other people’s corgis are, but they work just fine on my dogs! One person came up the judges that were there for mentoring and said “My name is xxxxxx. Please note that one persons opinion is not necessarily the opinion of the rest of the club”. At the end of the show, everyone disbursed and went to dinner, leaving Marilyn Boissoneault and I to take down and put away everything (and do without dinner). I resigned the next day, disgusted at the behaviour of some of the exhibitors.
Calgary 2014 – at the all-breed show prior to the specialty, Dolly was defeated in the veteran class. With the amount of cheering, clapping and whistling that went on you would have thought the bitch won Best In Show. Since I wasn’t showing her people were asking me “What was THAT about?”, including the handler I was using. How do you explain that type of behaviour?
This doesn’t even begin to cover the number of times I’ve asked if there will be competition at a show, only to be told no, and then find out there was. Or the times people have not shown up after the first day of a show.
And of course there are the mysterious “genetic” issues my dogs supposedly have that people searching for puppies hav been warned about! I still have to figure out what they are myself!
I have honestly given up sharing any of my dogs’ successes in this group. If someone else’s dog takes a placement anywhere, congratulations abound. Successes by my dogs are totally ignored, so I no longer mention them. When asked to write an article about Dolly’s accomplishments I said I would not do it myself, but I was willing to be interviewed for an article that someone else would write. Quite sad that I don’t feel comfortable talking about my own dog’s accomplishments:(
At the Guelph show this year I was verbally attacked for something that a handler was told I had said, that I never said! Thankfully I had the entire conversation on my phone as a text conversation and was able to prove that the gossip that had been passed on was NOT what had actually been said at all.
All of the people who have written the posts I’ve read complaining about the lack of sportsmanship are in at least one of the above scenarios …. some in more than one
On the other hand…..I have seen some shining examples of good sportsmanship.
Carolyn Cannon – after Dolly won Open Bitch at the U.S. National in 2009, told me to get lost while she re-bathed and re-groomed her for Winners. I’m sure Carolyn’s grooming made her look much better and contributed to her success. I have always said if my dogs win it is despite my handling and grooming, not because of it!
Lori Sams and Gayle Petrick, who helped by showing my dogs last year at Western Reserve, as well as to others who have helped with my set up and shades in the past – Philip Myers especially coming to mind!
Tim & Tracie Zeitz – who when my van blew a transmission line on the way home from the 2012 National drove out and took all my dogs out of the van back to their house, and kept them until the van was mobile again.
One shining example….and I can’t even name specific people….but when the final go-around for Winners Bitch at the 2010 U.S. National was happening, Eileen Eby took a video. Dolly isn’t an American bred or owned bitch, but the volume of the cheering increased noticeably when she and Tim took their turn. So there was an entire of room displaying sportsmanship, cheering for a dog that they had no reason to be supporting.
Sportsmanship, like friendship and love, is an exponentially growing resource – that is the more you give it away or display it – the more of it you get in return. Display sportsmanship including losing gracefully, and winning even more gracefully, and it is one step in the demise of dog shows that you can eliminate. If you have a comment to make, make it away from the rings, and even better, away from the show grounds. People love to gossip, and twist words – don’t give them the opportunity!