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As The Wheels Turn – 7 Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins as Applied to Dog Shows

“In the currently recognized version, the sins are usually given as wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Each is a form of Idolatry-of-Self wherein the subjective reigns over the objective.”

I’ve re-orged, expanded upon and examined what are normally considered the seven deadly sins and applied them to our sport. I am sad to say, many of these are far, far too prevalent and easy targets for this topic.

I could easily have made this an entire novella. Our column next week is the Seven Virtues which are the flip sides of these coins. I encourage everyone to share their stories of “family” so we can wash this bad taste out of our mouths and accentuate the positive aspects of this fancy to the point that the deadly sins fade to obscurity.

From a reader:
“It’s All About Me-ism”

This is a painfully familiar type. It is first on this list for a reason. The win photos incessantly and repeatedly plastered everywhere across social media. The only available topic of discussion is how cute “Fido” is. Fido this, Fido that. Fido pooped out gold nuggets. Too often one sees this twinned with an owner who assumes responsibility for a far larger share of Fido’s success than he/she actually represents.

And, on the same continuum, kennel blind. “Fifi is the standard personified” or not. For many exhibitors, particularly folks who are not well mentored, the fine line between discussing the merits of their dog as breeding stock and attacking them personally is at best poorly defined and at worst non-existent.

From reader Julie Wright in Wrightwood, CA:

Making derogatory comments about a dog in the ring when you are ringside.  I learned this one the hard way many years ago when I made a negative comment about the winning dog unawares his owner was standing behind me. The handler ripped me up one side and down the other because the owner was in her motorhome crying her eyes out. I ruined a lovely win for a lovely person who has since become a cherished friend. We ALL want to win and it is HARD to loose to a dog we don’t think is as good as OUR’s I try hard to remember that it is not MY opinion that is paid for, it is the judge’s opinion that matters ‘on the day. Whatever dog wins has an owner who loves them and who has worked just as hard as you to get THEIR dog in that winner’s position. If you can not only congratulate the winners, but feel their joy at their nice win, the whole dog show experience becomes richer and the days when you aren’t the winner become fun anyway.

From a reader:

Who’s zoomin’ who is stock in trade for far too many setups. This crosses all lines of amateur, professional, breeder, owner, handler, judge. It is part human nature, part small world, part pettiness. Without doubt a percentage of folks are out there doing what comes naturally outside the confines of tradition. Equally without doubt it is not anyone else’s business. And, guaranteed, somebody, somewhere is guessing, lying, making it up or just running at the mouth because they can, as we speak. For the love of all that is holy, people, quit!  Just show your dog(s). I don’t know, don’t want to know and frankly, don’t care a whit, who’s doing what to who. And neither should you.

From reader H. A. Penny Haynes, 4-H Dog Club Leader; Rally, Obedience &
Agility Competitor and Rally Judge

Some of the 4-Hers that I work with would like to have Sloth be represented by persons too lazy to clean up after the dog they have at the end of their leash even when offered a bag to pick up. The kids recognize that cleaning up after their dogs is a small and simple thing that responsible owners do as a matter of courtesy to the one the will be walking that way shortly and to protect future use of properties that currently allow dogs.


Oh boy, this topic could be a column all it’s own! I will own the fact that this is my personal challenge and the sin I wrestle with the most. I have been known to open my mouth when I shouldn’t. With that said, I am far too frequently appalled at the behavior of exhibitors, amateur through professional, in this area. Refusing ribbons offered by a judge, tossing ribbons at the ring exit, cornering judges and telling them they put up the wrong dog, ostensibly for x, y or z reason, but primarily because it wasn’t theirs. I watched one exhibitor, a person against whom I competed regularly for a couple years, after every, single ring in which she was defeated, which was consistently, go back and and chew on the judge for anywhere from five to 30 minutes about why they put up the wrong dog.

From a reader in San Diego, CA:
“A club/show not treating their exhibitors/handlers like the customers that they are!”

Every now and then, you run across those people who take their badge a little *too* seriously… Parking people turned pathological, show chairs who ruin other people’s day to make themselves feel important. We need to respect our volunteers, no doubt, but this is, indeed, a two-way street. People, particularly in the current economic climate, have choices about how to spend their money. If the dog show isn’t welcoming, trust me, they’ll spend it on tiaras instead.


We have a variety of ways to go on this one. The obvious would be those of us who are too comfortable with the typical dog show fare of hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. But, my spin is this. Judge followers. You know who I mean. Judge Y loves you and/or your dog, so you fly clear across the country to some tiny show this person is judging, angling for a BIS. And, repeat. And, repeat. Ad nauseum. A suggestion here. If you have to struggle to find a picture of a different judge awarding the dog, perhaps you have a tiny bit of an issue.

As always, this is JMHO.

Many thanks to those who contributed to our first interactive column. Anyone wishing to comment for next week on the seven virtues, please feel free to email me at scotiadawgs@gmail.com and please specify if you want your name used,
or not.

Written by

Our family always had dogs. Mutt dogs, purebred dogs, but always dogs. I grew up with dogs everywhere. My mother eventually enrolled me in dog care 4-H because I was “shy and retiring and lacked people skills”….. I am the living testimonial to the success of the 4-H program! I continued into AKC shows as my family transitioned from “dogs” to the wonderful world of Purebred Dogs. I showed all of our family dogs in conformation and participated in Junior Showmanship competition. I went to college, earned a degree and worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. Today, I am an AKC Breeder of Merit and a member of the Professional Handlers Association.
  • Sharyn Hutchens June 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    As always, an excellent post we should all take to heart. It’s a shame rudeness is not among the seven deadly sins of I had a nickel–okay, maybe a quarter, considering inflation–for every time I have seen an exhibitor ‘blow off’ a spectator or a less experienced exhibitor, I’d have that motor home I have–well–lusted after. How long does it take to say, ‘thanks for your interest! Wait right here and I’ll talk to you just as soon as I get out of the ring. (Or the breed finishes or I catch this person coming out of the ring or….) I’m sort of distracted right now and want to give you my full attention’? You might even end up with a small cheering section! And when that novice who just bought a dog from THAT breeder approaches you, take the time to answer questions or help. You might end up with a convert. And above all, a smile doesn’t cost anything and it can make a huge difference in someone’s day!

  • Pat Pierce June 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Well spotted. I am looking forward to the Seven Virtues article soon!

  • Karen Irazabal June 25, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Loved the article. Hit the head on the nail! These “sins” are many of the new people who come into showing don’t stay more than a couple of years. I had to learn to have thick skin once I started winning with my own dogs. I am not a pro handler or even that well known, but I love my breed (afghans) and try to breed to the standard and not to the top dog of the year or simply for pedigree, I go to what I think will compliment something my dog has or improve something that is lacking. Don’t always get it right.

  • Lynda Beam (Canine Candids by Lynda) July 1, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Yup, it totally sucks to steal someone’s joy by a remark not meant to be overheard by anyone else. Much better to follow the rule of Thumper’s dad … “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”

    This does not mean you have to lie, just don’t be mean… try to remember when you were/are in that person’s place

    All that being said, I remember my handling instructor all those years ago telling us newbies in the class that if we wanted to be successful in the sport of dogs, we needed to develop alligator skin.

    I’ve personally found this to be valuable advice, especially if one is successful!

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