I once read a line that has stayed with me for years. Essentially, it said, “The man who can focus his entire attention on one single problem for just 20 minutes can rule the world.”
In our hectic, over-scheduled, under-funded, hyper-stimulated world, this is, indeed, a very difficult challenge. Especially so in the dog world, where we are all juggling dogs, life, work, family and personal time in a constant battle to not drop anything.
To offer focus in this never-ending war against time, we have created the “12-Steps to a Happier You in the Dog Fancy” inventory.
One step, each month, establishes the habit. Then just keep building, brick by brick, adding one new goal each month.
January — Say “Congratulations” to the winner or “Thank You” to those who congratulate you. Yes, every time. Yes, even when the winner is your most bitter enemy, actually, especially then.
February — Watch one breed, other than your own, from start to finish, at every dog show you attend.
March — Instill and enforce the “first to look at their phone during dinner pays for everyone” rule each time you go out to eat, whether at a dog show, with co-workers or family. Experience the miracle of direct human interaction.
April — Seek out a club official — show chair, chief ring steward, hospitality chair, etc — at each dog show you attend and thank them, personally, for their hard work and compliment them on a specific piece of the show which you particularly liked. Resist the urge to complain about anything.
May — Volunteer to help at one show. Even if it is an hour of ring stewarding, helping with clean up or set up, judging a fun match, simply restocking the candy dishes or picking up someone else’s poopie. Do one thing for a club for no better reason than you can.
June — Help someone new. It could be as simple as assisting someone with an armband. Maybe a promising youngster with a new puppy shows up and would welcome five minutes of *kind* and constructive direction. It is important here to understand the concept of help. Focus on the positive. Just be nice.
July — Organize a potluck. Get a whole bunch of people together at someone’s RV or grooming space, even invite someone you don’t know well, break bread together. Laugh. Tell stories. Talk dogs. If there is a water balloon fight somewhere in the mix, this cannot be a bad thing. Remember, we’re still carrying each month’s goal forward, so March’s “no phone” rule applies. By now, it should be ingrained and much easier to implement.
August — Read the standard for a breed about which you know nothing. Then, at the next show, while continuing your February goal of watching a new breed, go find the breed you read about. See if you can apply elements of the standard to dogs in the ring.
September — Go back to school … In your own breed. Re-read your breed standard. Memorize it. Commit the entire standard to memory so thoroughly that you can quote entire sections verbatim. Then pull a random dog out of your pack, stack him up and go over him piece by piece according to the standard. Try very, very, very hard to be objective and not make excuses. Simply see what’s there and what isn’t.
October — Take the skeletons out of your closet. Look at them in the cold light of day. Whether as a breeder, handler, exhibitor or judge, take a look at your past mistakes, acknowledge them, then burn them at the stake and move on!
November — Talk turkey. Get off the internet blogs and approach a more experienced person about a question in your breeding program, grooming routine, handling skill set, whatever. Talk to them in person. Invite them to lunch or drinks. Do not expect miraculous secrets, but acknowledge and respect someone outside your comfort zone. You learn something new every day!
December — Give the gift of your time and energy to a local animal shelter, rescue group or other doggie emergency support system.
This 12-step program is guaranteed to bring enhanced enjoyment, satisfaction, curiosity, knowledge, camaraderie and success to anyone’s dog show calendar. Make 2016 the year of living well! Happy New Year and best wishes to all…
As always, this is JMHO.