Top Notch Toys June 2017

THE MEANING OF SPORTSMANSHIP

by KYLE POTTS President, Chihuahua Club of America

M aybe today is a good day to share something I have been thinking about. As we sit outside the dog show ring and watch the judg- ing taking place in the ring, we all judge alongside that AKC judge and we either agree or disagree with what is winning that day. It’s okay to disagree with the judge, but I get so discouraged when I over- hear conversations such as “Can you believe she put that up...”, “Of course he won, he is from her hometown...” or “She put up the handler, what a surprise...”. We are all guilty of these thoughts, myself included, but maybe we need to be more mindful of our tone of voice and how loud we make those comments and who around us may be within earshot. Or better yet, maybe we need to not say that ringside at all. We are not in the ring, we don’t have our hands on the dogs and we don’t see in their mouths. There is so much more to judging than just sitting ringside and making snap decisions. Good sportsmanship should be first and foremost in our minds as we go to the shows. Congratulate the winners and save the nasty critiques for your hotel room, if you must express them. I recently attended a back-to-back Toy Specialty. That weekend was all about spending time with great friends and having fun showing two very young dogs belonging to my friend Peggy. I was able to see the best and the worst of sportsmanship at the shows that weekend, and hopefully sharing that here will allow us all to remember that our behavior does impact others, even when we don’t think it is seen or heard. The bad sportsmanship came into play as I was walking out of the ring with the young male I am showing. This is only his second show, and he is not

fully trained. He goes around the ring in a nice smooth gait, never drops his tail and is for the most part, very well behaved. The initial part of the table exam still causes him a little worry; he may lean back a tad, but recovers imme- diately and then all is well. He does not know about dogs other than Chihua- huas yet however, so all the different Toy dogs outside the ring were a great concern to him this weekend. Upon exiting the ring (after winning Winners Dog), he was startled and hit the end of his lead. I simply reeled him in and picked him up. Unfortunately it seemed that two exhibitors sitting right in front of the ring gate were thrilled to see one of my dogs act up and they immedi- ately gave each other a wide-eyed look and started talking behind their hands while staring at the dog with smirks on their faces. How many of us have had that untrained dog who needs to experi- ence ring life and the sights, sounds and smells of a dog show to grow into a con- fident dog? Why is it noteworthy and a source of enjoyment to see someone with a dog that is stressed and needs assurance? Why would that give some- one pleasure to not only witness it, but then to be able to criticize the dog and the handler for it? It’s not the first time I have experienced it and it won’t be the last, but it did make me shake my head. On the other side of the coin, I wit- nessed two nice examples of good sportsmanship that weekend, and I felt compelled to comment on them. The first came about when an exhibi- tor finished their Long Coat bitch and when asked, said that she planned to pull her the next day. However, there was no major in dogs and to pull the bitch would have broken the major in bitches on that day. When I went back and asked, the exhibitor agreed to leave

her bitch in the classes and even sug- gested someone else take her in and show her. As sometimes happens in those cases, that same bitch won again. She is a nice bitch and deserved to win so I have no problem with it. The point is, the exhibitor realized that she was allowing at least two other people to have a chance at a major and she readily agreed to do it. The second act of good sportsman- ship occurred as we watched Junior Showmanship. One young Novice han- dler was obviously unaware of how to gait or stack her dog. She struggled with the lead, holding it at the very end of the lead and therefore the dog wandered around all over the ring as she went around. It was clear that she had not been shown how to gather her lead up or control her dog. Right after Juniors, one of the Chihuahua exhibi- tors got up out of her chair, went out in the hallway with the young girl and gen- tly showed her how to gather the lead into the palm of her hand and therefore have more control of the dog. Juniors and new exhibitors are the life’s blood of our sport. If we don’t encourage them, they will give up and go away and the old timers who “know everything” will die off. We owe it to the sport and our breeds to spend more time helping and less time criticizing others. We owe it to ourselves and our breed to practice being a little bit nicer and a little less self-serving. Just my thoughts... “THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO JUDGING THAN JUST SITTING RINGSIDE...”

62 • T op N otch T oys , J une 2017

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