Editors note: Article originally printed in the June 2015 Issue of ShowSight. Click To Subscribe.
Being young, energetic and in a transitional period of my life, I feel change is all around. I’m moved out of the house, considered, and treated as an ‘adult’ with an enormous amount of freedom I don’t yet know how to spend. Possibilities become overwhelmingly endless and what I chose to do with my life daunts me everyday. My plans for where I think I will be in ten years, five years and even in a month change daily. I was positive in my high school days that the plan I laid out for my life was undoubtedly what would happen and what I would achieve. Does this sound like a typical teenager to you?
However, in my mind my dogs and my involvement in the sport were always incorporated into my plan. No matter how many times I’ve changed it, if my involvement in the sport weren’t a common denominator I would dismiss it. I’ve built my life around dogs and no one could convince me to do otherwise. Since the day I embarked on this journey, eight years ago owning and showing purebred dogs, I knew my life without them would be an unhappy one. I decided I wouldn’t consider it any other way. This is probably the only thing I’m completely right about and the single narrow-minded concept in my brain: dogs and dog shows are awesome. If you have another opinion you would be better off investing your time talking to a brick wall.
In the eyes of my non-dog-show teenager friends I’m a freak. I’m the youngest person they know with as many friends I have that are decades older than me. I spend my money on breeding, dog show entries and suits. I’m the only friend they have that is hardly ever available on weekends and who isn’t bothered to be missing house parties so she can go to shows. I spend more time with my personal dogs than I do with my friends. Not only do I bathe my dog more than twice a year but I also blow-dry them—shocking, right? I understand how they have deemed me their weirdest friend and I’m perfectly okay with it. In fact I’m more than okay with it.
To my friends I may be a freak, but in the dog show world I'm the one who's normal and they're the ones who aren't. Every single dog person I’ve met that’s touched my life has brought along unique senses of joy that I couldn’t find elsewhere. These people are forever a part of my life. While we're adversaries in the ring, outside of it we're a tight-knit group. When we pack up to go home it suddenly becomes difficult to say goodbye; we know we won't feel the same affinity with the "normal" people we face when we get back home.
On the whole I think we tend to overanalyze the sport a bit and become distracted by negative people. We panic about how our sport is dying and we tend to forget why we’re all in this together. And while there are so many problems and toxicity it’s crucial we stop to appreciate what we love about our sport. Life outside of shows still has the same issues, it’s just presented in different forms. There’s no foolproof way to escape it all. Our ability to put aside our differences needs to improve. We need to attract other people to join the freak show because we’re happy people, we have fun and we change lives, all while paying lots of money to trot our dogs around a ring. I believe it, don’t you?
Think to yourself: what’s your life without dog shows and all it entails? My answer: unimaginable.