Showsight September 2021


Judges are supposed to judge the dogs in front of them on that day and at that moment, according to the standard for the breed— as they understand it. Handlers, professional and amateur, have the job of presenting their charge to the best of their ability. If an exhibitor has a very good dog, but does not know how to show it to best advantage, why do they blame the judge because he or she could not see the specimen at its best? Likewise, just because a dog has a winning record does not mean it is always the best one on any particular day. I understand that every one of us enters a show to, hopefully, win. But let us all be realistic. There are more losers at a show than winners, and congratulating the winners and supporting them is a sign of good sportsmanship. When you are the winner, you appre- ciate it when others congratulate you and offer encouragement in the Breed or Group ring. Who knows? At the next show you may be the winner and yesterday’s winner may be congratulating you! When I got into this sport, winning was important—but it was not the only thing. The breeders and exhibitors talked to each oth- er, shared lunch, cheered for each other in the Group, and shared knowledge and ideas. Our goals were not only to earn champion- ships and win Group placements, etc. but also to work together to maintain and improve the health and integrity of our breeds. Sportsmanship was important. Sportsmanship is still a very important part of all sports. The good sportsmen are appreciated and admired, while the poor sports gain a reputation that is not flattering and is damaging to everyone. As I mentioned earlier, each of us has a unique personality just as each dog we show is a unique individual. We owe it to our sport and to our dogs to behave with integrity and support one another. My hope is that we can all learn to be humble winners and graceful losers. If we do this, not only will our sport benefit, we will also feel good about ourselves. What do you think?

If our sport is to continue to succeed, everyone must take a good, long, hard look at themselves and ask, “Am I complying? Have I been a good sport?” I think it is safe to say that almost every one of us, at some point, has not always behaved appropriately. I know, speaking for myself, that early on in my career I displayed poor behavior at times. I would like to think that, over the years, I have matured and seen the errors of my past. And as I am completing nearly a half-century in the sport, my mantra as an exhibitor is to be a humble winner and a gracious loser. Think about it: Win with Humility, Lose with Grace. One only needs to look at this year’s Westminster Best in Show winning handler, breeder/owner David Fitzpatrick, as a shining example of a true professional. David, always with a friendly smile, is devoted to his breed. Win or lose, I have never heard him bad- mouth a judge, fellow exhibitor or another person’s dog—in pri- vate or in public. When you look around the sport of purebred dogs, people like David are few and far between. Bill and Taffee McFadden also come to mind as individuals who exemplify AKC’s Code of Sports- manship. There are others, of course, but I think it is safe to say that the majority of today’s exhibitors and handlers do not display the ability to accept their wins and losses without public comment. Today’s judges fall victim to social media attacks regularly, and competing exhibitors think nothing of running down the competi- tion that just beat them in the ring. Exhibitors, as well as professional handlers, need to learn how to be considerate of others. They also need to remember that there are eyes and ears everywhere, and many conversations are over- heard by others. Sometimes, the people who are brand new or who are considering getting into our sport are turned off by these peo- ple. I know that judges don’t appreciate it when they are confronted by those who have lost. SHOWOFF © Ribbon Racks

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7/30/21 1:22 PM

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