“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”
Flavia Weedn

Having spent the last several days in the gambling mecca of Nevada, it strikes me that perhaps those of us who breed dogs and compete with them in various events might need a visit with Gamblers Anonymous.

Certainly we spend more money on this passion than at least I have ever spent at a casino (where I play $10 on the penny slot machines once a year…). We gamble on judges and competition on the day. We can try to stack the odds in our favor by constantly improving our grooming, handling, training and breeding stock. We can hedge our bets with obsessive pedigree analysis, continuing education on breeding techniques and getting hands on as many dogs as possible.

Your basic 12-step program could address some of the urges we feel to continue feeding those proverbial slot machines that can never seem to line all the cherries up just right.

That gorgeous bitch who doesn’t pass health clearances. The stunning puppy with a bad mouth or one testicle. The dream breeding, the one you give the theme of Superhero names because you’re so sure the litter will be amazing …. and all the puppies are mismarked. The exciting stud dog prospect who’s passed all his health clearances, finished his show championship and basic field testing, and is lost to bloat in the final stages of advanced field training. These are just a small sampling of my own dreams crashed in the last 20 years.

And yet, there’s always the next roll of the dice. Maybe this spin will turn up the magic combination.

Breeding good dogs for the show ring or performance is part art, part science and, no small part, a gamble. An educated one, to be sure, but you never know what Mother Nature’s holding as her hole card.

I once saw the lyrics to the old Garth Brooks song “Rodeo” applied to dog shows. I dearly wish I could find that email again. Anybody out there ever seen it? I think it was a couple Shorthair gals driving across country that came up with it.

“It’ll drive a cowboy crazy, It’ll drive the man insane. And he’ll sell off everything he owns Just to pay to play the game. And a broken home and some broken bones Is all he’ll have to show for all the years that he spent chasin’ This dream they call rodeo.”

Yup.

And yet. There’s the roar of the Best in Show crowd. The feel of a great dog moving smoothly at the end of your leash. The nursing grunts of newborns. Puppy breath. A crisp, solid point right at the crest of the ridge as you ride up the hill. The depth of wisdom and trust in an old dog’s face, resting her head on your knee.

Garth said it well. The joy and the pain.

As always, this is JMHO.