This weekend I went out with some friends and our dogs to a dog show in Ridgefield, Wa. I think we generally had a good time aside from weather! I look forward to getting some pictures, and the dogs showed really well.
At dog shows, there are some written and unwritten rules of engagement for handlers to follow towards one another. Things get competitive and the pressure of that can turn people into monsters and sore losers at worst, and if they aren’t happy for you, hopefully they just keep silent (in an ideal world).
In general people go out of their way to avoid any confrontation and the classy people know when to stay silent and when to congratulate the person who beat them. I try to remember to always congratulate the handlers of the winners, but sometimes they dash off before I can. I also try to always be considerate of any team behind me in the lineup and ask if they are ready to move before I take off. I think it’s just good manners to do that.
Some things are off limits to me at shows: direct physical confrontation is never ok, towards a person or their dog. Verbal bullying at the ringside is also not ok, especially when it is loud and coarse in language. I do feel that people who get away with verbal bullying do so because there is no real (perceived) consequence for them. But there are always consequences…
This is what was said to me ringside in the presence of other exhibitors after Sunday judging by the Shiba breeder judge Laura Perkinson of Taichung Shibas: she remarked that my dog was “a piece of shit” loudly before a crowd of people, and regarding the results of us getting the breed over her Special “well, stranger things have happened” with a smirk chuckle, just as I walked by.
It’s unfortunate for this woman that so many other people were present. The AKC rep was informed at the show and a complaint was filed for unsportsmanlike conduct. In no way do I expect people to all be friends given the nature of the competition, and to loosely quote another breeder “you can’t be a candy ass and be in this breed”, but disagree privately and away from the ringside.