Hurt People Hurt People
After reading a couple of Facebook comment about judging and judges, the above saying immediately connected with another in my mind: “Success Breeds Success”!
Clearly two very different statements, but in my opinion there is a connection.
We have all observed breeders in different countries who year after year tag along with dogs that, evident to everybody but the breeder, simply are not up to par. And of course the fact they don’t have any success is proof that judging and judges are biased and incompetent.
In another category are those breeders who year after year turn up with new dogs of the highest caliber and continue their winning ways. There are certainly reasons for the differences — and of course factors like natural talent and gifts are involved. Plus of course a strong ingredient: the ability to look without bias at their own animals. Some even possess that magic gift of seemingly being born to breed dogs — in addition to knowing which to keep, how to train, plus adding to any exciting dog that important feeling of being special.
Probably more important in some breeds than others, but still …
Many moons ago when I had been involved in the world of dogs and dog showing for all of seven to eight years and was of that blessed state of mind that I knew everything about anything dog, I traveled to the U.K. Looking up addresses in breed-club yearbooks in order to find breeders who were not used to get huge prices for their puppies for export, but were selling them as pets locally from GBP 15 to 25!
Many of these breeders, often as a result of failure to achieve anything they felt they deserved, would never again set foot in a championship-show ring — neither breed nor all-breed shows — simply because it was all crooked and fixed … But they were still actively showing at Open, Limited and Sanction shows, where no challenge certificates were on offer – so most of the most famous breeders didn’t bother to show up and judges came from other breeds with a fresh and clear mind! And maybe at times I suspected that their attitude was justified …
I wish I had recorded all my conversations with these frustrated breeders from a variety of breeds so I could share them with you. But so much negativity and criticism directed at the establishment as well as at selected personalities who were to blame for their own lack of major wins.
And of course, in addition to trying to buy some puppy cheaply sired by one of the country’s leading sires, I generously offered my expert advice regarding both breeding programs as well as presentation. Still to this day I wonder why they just didn’t kick me out, but interestingly a couple of these breeders remained my friends for years — and one successfully followed my advice! But she still couldn’t rid herself of the perception of all those crooks and dishonest people who ruled and controlled this breed and worked against her.
And referring to the headline about “hurt people,” this was certainly one of them — and she would happily and admittedly do something to hurt, both verbally and physically, those crooks who did all the winning.
That she was out of favor with the elite, that her dogs were certainly worthy, was clearly proven by the fact that some dogs she bred had been picked up by the sires’ owners in lieu of stud fee and had achieved recognition both in the ring and at stud. All shown with the stud-dog owner’s prefix — so she never ever had any applause coming her way! And some sold abroad for amazing figures. Relatively speaking …
So she kept bad-mouthing the opposition, and — I suspect based on what she told me —she invented serious problems with the more well-known bloodlines, sharing that information generously with the rest of the world. (Fortunately, this took place decades prior to the age of the internet and Facebook.) Or at least those willing to listen — and at the time I was one of many. Sadly, gossip and negative information will always have an audience. And to this day, some 50-plus years later, I still wonder: “No smoke without fire?” Could there possibly have been at least some truth in those stories? … I’ll never find out, but as we nowadays live in a world where even lies by ex-presidents and politicians are considered acceptable, her claims to what was reality seem of less significance.
To convince this lady that her conditioning and presentation of her dogs was not up to par was of course rejected as nonsense.
All of us who have spent decades in this sphere know that there is and will always be suspicion by those not very successful that these people who are constantly in the “winners circle” have gotten there by either illegal or immoral ways, while others disappointedly believed they could help you by “promoting” you in special ways.
I might not be a saint, just maybe very close, but I can hand on heart swear that we knowingly never in any way tried to influence judges. However, because we at the time were better known than some competitors, there were cases when we both felt embarrassed when we undeservedly did better than we thought was justified.
There was a time in Sweden — and the rule might still apply — when if you registered a litter of puppies in which either of the parents were unshown and thus had not achieved at least a second prize in quality (which in effect meant not a dog of show standard, as the practice was then), you had to pay a double registration fee for the litter. Which meant that we from time to time exhibited some bitches kept as part of a long-term breeding program, but not really for showing. Just to save money …
So, a few embarrassing moments experienced: One was at a major show when an English Cocker bitch in this category won the breed, which was quite a shock. But even worse: In the group, under the same judge, she was up against an extremely beautiful American Cocker who was in the running for Dog of the Year — and most deservedly so! When I realized that the judge was in a major dilemma regarding which to place first and second, I tried to help him by making no effort to show my dog — and it worked. Much to my relief.
But for some reason this entire incident was followed by a flow of comments about how we had been able to brainwash this judge, and also a number of accusations about reasons we kept winning all the time … Even if at this show we didn’t win that group.
A few years ago I had to cancel an appointment in England that had a large entry. Something both embarrassing and disappointing: The secretary’s reply included “Well, good for you! Now you can still keep all those friends of yours who all thought they would win — if you had turned up, you would be left with only two!”
Which I thought was a rather sad comment that hopefully did not reflect reality: When standing in the center of the ring focusing on nothing but making the correct decisions for the right reasons, the hope is that at least those who call you a “friend” would respect your opinion.
No doubt, before setting foot in the ring as a judge, make sure you have the thick skin required to make what are — hopefully — well-qualified decisions, whether any friends are involved or not. It seems amazingly easy to hurt people’s feeling if the results are not in their favor.
And be prepared: Even if not necessarily physically, Hurt People may Hurt People! At least their reputation.
Until next time …