Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer here in the South, a day when women can wear white shoes and men can wear seersucker jackets. In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Kalamazoo, MI, for the five-show Apple Blossom Cluster, I’ve been checking the weather forecast for the long weekend. Temperatures are going to be pretty warm around the U.S. We’ll be in the 90s here in Memphis.

White shoes & seersucker are not the only evidence of things heating up. I am also starting to witness frayed nerves and short tempers around the show halls. I long ago abandoned the idea of campaigning. My epiphany came early on after a four-hour drive home with my wife crying because a jealous rival had called our dog “coarse.” She never set foot inside a ring again. Now, I think Brenda is a little thin-skinned. After all, she thinks remarks about my hairline and waistline are all in good fun. But even I bristle at some of the comments I hear ringside and in the grooming areas.

I often surprise people at the shows by asking pointed questions about their breed. I genuinely believe if you don’t know something, ask. Unfortunately, many dog people are conditioned to respond to every question defensively. I’m not asking if your dog is oversize, I am asking if a larger dog of quality will get a look in your breed. While I am a fan of seminars, I suspect more lessons are learned sitting by the RV waiting for group judging. If people are fearful of asking or answering questions, ignorance will prevail.

I’ve watched people work the show hall, dropping little venomous remarks like pigeons in the park soiling your favorite statue. Some think they are witty. You know the type, the ones that confuse Oscar Wilde with Oscar the Grouch…catty, not witty. For all of you busting your butts every week to bring us the best the dog world has, I say, don’t get discouraged. The vast majority of us are thankful you’re sharing your dogs with us. I hope by May you have figured out that it’s the journey, not the destination. Forget the haters and enjoy the people along the way. So keep your cool when things get hot.  And that’s today’s Back Story.