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.