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The Golden Age for Dogs?

I recently saw the Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris.” The premise that man’s golden age is the one you live in is a bit like “The Wizard of Oz” tagline, “There’s no place like home.” I share Allen’s fondness for the 1920s & ’30s, and have always tried to cultivate my inner William Powell while battling my outer Sydney Greenstreet. Still, the idea that you should spend less time wishing for what you can’t have and more time pursuing what you can have is good advice.

I have way too many conversations with long-time dog show enthusiasts about the “way it used to be.” I too remember the days when we had 3,000-dog entries handled by exhibitors who dressed like ladies & gentlemen and who acted like ladies & gentlemen. I also remember big-footed professional handlers who thought it was clever to stomp up behind an inexperienced owner with an inexperienced Toy dog and long-time breeders who would rather see their line die off than share it with a newbie.

Today we have smaller shows, but there are twice as many as 30 years ago, affording more opportunities for the average exhibitor to enjoy a day out with friends in an unhurried venue. It may cost more to fill the tank of the family SUV, but you probably won’t have to go as far to find a show. Entries cost more, but you have the convenience of online entries and all sorts of automated tools to help you spend your money wisely. More venues offer climate-controlled refuge from the environment and vendors with real food and gourmet coffee.

The rules of the game are more complex than ever, but there are more opportunities than ever to have fun with your dog, with additional conformation titles, agility competitions, earthdog trials & coursing events. Although there are assaults on our breed standards both abroad and here in the U.S. (Have you seen this press release from the United Kennel Club?), we also have an energized fancy and multiple platforms to voice our own positions.

For me, this is my “golden age.” I have never had more fun or satisfaction from the dog world. Now, can I share Nick Charles’ (“The Thin Man”) cocktail shaker advice? “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. A Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time. Way more precise than James Bond’s “Shaken, not stirred.” 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.
  • Patricia First August 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Thank you for this column. After many years in obedience and therapy/visiting dog activities with my dogs I started entering conformation 10 years ago and I love it, all of it. I look forward to every day I spend at a dog show and then savor the experience win or lose, I am tired of hearing and reading that I am now in a dying sport and how it used to be so wonderful. I am living it now, I like it now and I really appreciate your list of some the reasons that many of us feel that way.

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