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Social Media Transmitted Disease (SMTD)

I have a problem. I find myself at odds with my self-appointed mission in life. I like to think of myself as a cheerleader for the AKC conformation show. For 45 years, dog shows have been a refuge for me, a place where I could escape the nastiness of the real world and spend a weekend with people who share my love of the AKC purebred dog. I find our community to be full of generous people who are oblivious to the social position of their fellow exhibitor. At ringside I have difficulty distinguishing between the exhibitor that drove the family SUV 800 miles non-stop to the show and the billionaire that arrived on a private jet.

Here’s my conundrum. I am a creature of cyberspace and the social media. I have attempted via my blog, Dog Show Poop, and this column, The Back Story, to bring an online, ringside experience to fanciers. The two have introduced me to thousands of people who share my love of dogs and the sport. However, I find that the Social Media Transmitted Disease (SMTD), the Troll, to be almost impossible to avoid. In my own home, i.e. Dog Show Poop, and my home away from home, here on The Back Story, I have banished Trolls. Only rarely will one of these ugly creatures get past my door. However, I do venture out into the online public arena every day, making frequent stops on facebook and Twitter, both of which are infested with SMTDs.

We have just wrapped another sensational AKC conformation season. The year was capped by the most successful AKC/Eukanuba National Championship yet. The venue was larger, the entries were larger, and exhibitor enthusiasm was at an all-time high. Monday evening, I jumped on facebook hoping to find my fellow fanciers basking in the afterglow. Yet, what I found was a Troll orgy, with people I have admired and supported, freely wallowing in the mud, slinging innuendo and slander against one of our top dogs. The attacks on the dog and owner were bad enough, but they were accompanied by a Greek chorus announcing the death of our sport.

Now, I have been accused of being Pollyannaish, but these photo-sensitive lenses are not rose-colored. While I believe that the owner and dog in question have wrongly been defamed, I am also offended by the attacks on the sport at large. If there had been a transgression, the system would have addressed it. If something is amiss, bring it to the AKC reps’ attention and let the game proceed. As a numbers guy, I know that the Trolls are a small fraction of our world, but they are like mosquitoes, small, but irritating.

Finally, what I find the most offensive is that this attack was begun only hours after the funeral of 6-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the victims of Friday’s tragic attack on elementary school children. Jack is the grandson of Tony and June Pinto, well-known Doberman Pinscher exhibitors in our community. To Tony & June and all of little Jack’s family, I say words are insufficient to express the sorrow I feel at your loss. As a father and grandfather, I hope somehow God may comfort you. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Jocelyn Mullins December 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    This tragedy has a magnitude of tremendous proportion. Thank you for mentioning the loss of little Jack Pinto. This tragedy is so devastating for so many families and the fact that it happened to one of “our” dog show families brings it right into our homes. My husband and I know the Pintos more then some in the show community because we are Doberman people. We had the pleasure of having Thanksgiving dinner with them at their invitation in West Springfield, MA this year. We talked about our Grandchildren, what blessings they are and how the love you have for them is amazing and special, a love you didn’t realize you would ever feel for a child other then your very own. I am personally heartbroken for this family. I have been praying for the Pinto family as well as all of the other families. This tragedy is far from over of them, they all have so much grief ahead. Can you imagine with this Christmas so close, a child’s favorite holiday, gifts bought with love and anticipation to bring joy to the heart and face of a little boy that is no more. Gifts wrapped with little Jacks name on them that will not be opened Christmas morning by Jack, that will not bring joy to his family as they will never hear his laughter they will never see his anticipation and excitement over opening any gifts ever again. Can you imagine trying to celebrate a life and not be overcome by the grief? How do you celebrate a life not lived enough? All we can do is know that Jack made their lives full and better every counted second he blessed them. We need to come together, pray, love and support the Pintos during this unimaginably difficult time. God Bless the Pinto family.

    • Lynda Beam (Canine Candids by Lynda) December 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      I found something this morning on FB that I shared on my wall called the 7 rules of life, this one seems to apply here:

      4. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

      Thanks for another wake up call to those that take this way too seriously.

    • Lynda Beam (Canine Candids by Lynda) December 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM

      Dear Jocelyn, so eloquent, it is difficult to understand how they feel, but I’ve been thinking about the Pintos a lot even though I do not know them ever since I saw the mention on Nicole’s wall. It brings the tragedy closer to us all when it happens to one of our own.

  • Teresita January 1, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Congratulations to the ten dogs who passed the CGC test today (4/4/10). The dogs and their hlanders deserve this recognition for all the work that have put into making their dogs wonderful members of our community. Good job!

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