You’ve heard the old standard about putting the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble? It seems a significant percentage of our sport suffers from this ailment.

“We make our living off other people’s egos…..”

This sage advice was imparted to me by one of the handlers I worked for back in the day. Certainly, this somewhat cynical observation has some level of truth. Ego plays a far larger role in our sport than most anyone would be willing to admit.

“Thank you! Oh my God, thank you! You just made my dreams come true!”

Said to me by a sobbing 70something client who bred and owned the dog I had just piloted to best in show. Her body was twisted and gnarled from the results of a drunk driver crashing into her and the effects of crippling arthritis. She could no more run around the ring than I could fly to the moon. She had been involved in her breed since it’s acceptance into the AKC’s registry and dreams of that moment had sustained her through a great many personal hardships.

So, I’ve chosen to think of my job, instead of serving outsized egos, as fulfilling dreams. It’s a personal choice of perspective. Life is just too short.

Misplaced emphasis and upside down priorities in this sport impact not just the show ring, but many whelping boxes and dog clubs. Breeding to a top winner simply because it wins, with no clue about pedigree research; chasing the almighty rankings & ribbons at the expense of the dog’s and handler’s well being; “all-about me” mind sets that gridlock our clubs…. These are all examples of focusing on the wrong things.

Ours is a sport, or should be, of aesthetics, yes, but ethics as well. A place to venerate beauty while simultaneously seeking to produce, present and promote dogs which truly represent the very best of everything in their breeds.

I encourage each of you to dream big, aim high and choose to place your emphasis where it counts… not on yourself, but on doing the right thing — for the dogs in your care, for your breed, your peers, your clubs and the sport.

Just imagine.

As always, this is JMHO….