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As the Wheels Turn – Perspective

I’m sitting in the passenger seat. Literally and figuratively, this is not a place I frequent. But this rare opportunity lets me see a whole new side of the road. At the moment, I have an excellent view of the nonexistent shoulder. We’re hurtling down the skinny little goat path known as Highway 140 winding through northern Nevada and southern Oregon.

My switching places moment got me thinking about different perspectives.

Highway 140 winding through northern Nevada and southern Oregon

When I climbed back behind the wheel, my goal was to pilot the Sprinter van, known as Beulah3, safely down the scariest three miles of highway I have ever traveled. Considering that I drive an average of 50,000 miles each year in these blessed United States, that’s saying something. It’s an 8% downgrade with 25 mph switchback turns and a several thousand foot vertical drop to the left. Guard rail you ask? We don’t need no stinkin’ guard rail, says the state of Oregon. This road makes my stomach cramp, my mouth turn to dust and leaves a lump in my throat through which I can’t breathe.

As it turns out, this is a lot the way new folks feel the first few times they walk in a show ring. Maybe, just maybe, a kind word or encouraging compliment from one of “us” will make it easier for “them” the next time they plunge off that proverbial cliff.


Exhibitors frequently complain about show sites, amenities, or anything which inconveniences them in any way. Rarely do those folks stop to think of the show committee working long hours planning, organizing and trying to put on a great event. Oh, yeah, the *volunteer* show committee. Even more rarely do the complainers offer to help, to step up to the plate and serve their local all-breed club or even their national breed club. If you don’t think something is being done correctly, by all means, offer to do it yourself. Tackling a tough, thankless job for free to benefit your club will provide a whole new understanding of the sport.


Across the country, amateur handlers gnash their teeth in rage when professional handlers win in the ring. Fact of the matter, most of us work at our jobs basically 24/7/365. If we aren’t better at training, grooming and presenting our charges than the average Joe, we should hang it up for a new career as WalMart greeters! I don’t expect to be as good at plumbing or wiring or carpentry or welding as people who do it all the time. Just because I have a hammer and nails, doesn’t mean I can build a house right off the bat. It takes many years of training and time and practice and effort and developed skill to master a craft. A great number of very talented, dedicated amateurs have done exactly that. They beat us on a regular basis.


A frightening percentage of participants I run across in this sport think they’re pretty important. The people out in the real world trying to cure cancer, feed the hungry or house the homeless would beg to differ on that opinion. Big fish, small pond syndrome is endemic here in our village.


It sometimes feels as if we’re in the midst of a war zone, what with all the trash talking and verbal salvos tossed around ringside. Hellloooooooo…. we’re evaluating breeding stock here. If you don’t like the results of an evaluation, don’t ask for that person’s opinion again. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Of course, you might consider the possibility that the evaluation was correct and you need to breed or buy a better dog, or better groom and train and present the existing one.

Whichever choice you make, just keep in mind, it ain’t world peace, people!

As always, this is JMHO.

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.
  • francee & hollie May 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    As ever, excellent article!!!…..what I always am telling people…it’s not world peace…it’s not a cure for cancer. Supposed to be fuuuuun!!!

  • Jeff May 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    You are having fun!

  • Janet Gunn May 8, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    What a great article. Such sensible observations.

  • Sharyn Hutchens May 10, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    I like your perspective! If more people thought as you do, this sport would be much more fun for all of us!

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