These are some things that have been on my mind lately. The world of show dogs can be a wonderful, encouraging, loving, supportive place at times…..and a nasty venomous snake pit other times. I had someone steal my joy at a recent show. It upset me to the point where I felt I couldnt even brag about something that my puppy had accomplished that made me feel so happy. I’ve gone through a lot just to stay in this breed, especially recently – and for my puppy to have done well made me increadibly happy and proud, of her, and of myself. And someone stole that from me completely. Still hurts over a month later.
This article, written a few years back, sums up “stealing joy” better than I could at this point –
DON’T YOU DARE STEAL MY JOY
by Connie Cleveland
On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband asked me how I wanted to
celebrate. I asked that we take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother
and one of the greatest of all the great southern ladies, out to dinner with
At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a diamond ring. It was
gorgeous and I was speechless, but even as I thanked him, I worried about
the expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he knew that the next
line belonged to my grandmother, my husband excused himself from the table.
He was barely out of sight when she reached across the table and grabbed me
by the shoulder, “I know what you’re thinking, I know you think he couldn’t
afford it and it’s too extravagant. I don’t care if he had to put a second
mortgage on the house to buy it, don’t you steal his joy! It’s beautiful.
Accept it as the token of his love that it is and say nothing about how he
shouldn’t have bought it for you.” Then she repeated, “Don’t you dare steal
That was the end of the conversation. She sat back in her seat, smiled at my
returning husband, and we had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my
reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come off my finger, but most
importantly, I learned a wonderfully important lesson, never to steal
another man’s joy.
Are you a joy stealer?
“You know if my dog hadn’t gone down on the sit, I would have won the
class”, said, unfeelingly, to the winner.
“I sure didn’t think your dog worked that high a score.”
“I can’t believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup and her dog would beat
“I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great performance, ” said to
“Isn’t that judge an idiot? I can’t believe the dogs he put up!” said to the
“Boy, aren’t you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn’t here today or you might not
“You passed that Master test because the water blind was so easy.”
“That was the stupidest set of water marks I’ve ever seen. No trial should
end that easily,” said to the winner.
Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors? Do you tell them their
goals are too lofty and their dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful
or trying to keep them from accomplishing something that you never had the
ability or perseverance to do yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal
joy by destroying the dream.
“No Basset Hounds get UD’s,” said to the owner of the Bassett in Utility
“I’ve never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts and finishes”, said to
the owner of the Rottweiler practicing fronts and finishes.
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and a Master Hunter? Do you
know how few people have ever done it?” said to the first time dog owner
setting out to do both.
When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field championships and 65
OTCH points including all the necessary first places, someone had the guts
to come up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say, “No dog will ever
be a field champion and an obedience champion.” My jaw drops when I think
about it. Isn’t it unfortunate that I remember this attempt at stealing my
joy much more than I remember all the cards and letters and congratulations
I received when those last 35 points were earned?
If you are willing to destroy someone’s dream, perhaps you don’t realize
that it is the JOY of pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated,
not just reaching the accomplishment.
My husband and I travel and compete together. I remember an event, early in
our relationship when I watched his Doberman fail articles. “Darn it, ” I
said, as he came out of the ring,” she didn’t even try to find the right
one!” “Oh”, he replied, “but, weren’t her heeling and signals wonderful?”
Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was celebrating the improvement
on the exercise that had been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the
failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have learned that the best
response to a questionable performance, “What did you think?” That way, if
the handler is excited about some aspect of the performance, you can share
that excitement. If the handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can
share the disappointment. You are safely removed from being a joy stealer.
I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your dogs in (the coming
year). Undoubtedly there will be moments of disappointment as you venture
through the landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks. Remember that
the joy of the journey is worth the difficulties along the way and don’t let
anyone steal that joy. Guard it well and at he end of the road you can own
it and revel in it with all the other memories of the trip.
On a similar, but slightly unrelated subject is stealing peoples thunder. Social media has made it easy for us to keep up with each other. Made it easy to figure out who is breeding what, who is winning what, who is showing where, etc etc etc. It has also made us rude. Its become a race to see who can find out the most results the fastest and get them posted online, or who can congratulate the winners the fastest. We do a lot of thunder stealing on Facebook.
If you find out the results from a show, especially important shows or events, and you just cant help but want to congratulate the person on their win, send them a private message. Give the person a chance to brag themselves BEFORE you post congrats to their wall, BEFORE you post the results online for all of FB to know. Give them a chance to have their own 15 minutes in the spotlight for their win before you take it from them. For some people, the best part of the win is being able to share it with the world. When someone else does it for you, it takes the wind out of your sails. If it is not your brag to share, DONT SHARE IT until the person has a chance to do it themselves. If it is someone who never brags, then ask them if you can do it for them. If it is someone who usually brags, then leave it be and wait for them to do it themselves. Not everyone has a chance to run straight out of the ring and get on FB and brag to the world. Some of us have other dogs to show, people to talk to, pictures to take, puppies to walk, other things to do. Period. Some of us wont brag until the day is done. Some people like to wait until they have a photo of the win to brag with. If its not your brag, dont steal someone elses thunder by having to be the first to congratulate them online when they have not bragged themselves yet.
Be considerate. Think about how YOU would feel if you just got your very first BIG win with your puppy, only to check your phone 5 minutes later and someone else has already done all the bragging for you. Someone completely unrelated to your dog.
Think about how YOU would feel if you just won something and walked out of the ring to someone telling you that the judge knows nothing about a good dog or the judge had to choose you due to political reasons or whatever other joy stealing thing they could say. Honestly, this goes back to “if you cant say anything nice, then dont say anything at all”….
Off my soapbox for today….I’ve got a bunch of happy puppies to go play with.