Perhaps a set of dog shows might be the last place where you would expect to witness it; however, a dog show is where you can see comradery of mankind at its finest. Comradery is that sense of warm feelings of friendship, closeness and loyalty shared among a group of people.
It was a typical Sunday evening and I was scrolling through social media one week after our first set of dog shows here on the glorious rock of Newfoundland. I didn’t walk away with the coveted title of Best in Show, but what I did take home at the end of the weekend was something that can’t be measured with a title or ribbon. Let’s be honest- some days we may question if humanity and kindness is lost. However, here on the rock, I can promise if you attend just one of our dog shows, your faith in mankind will quickly be restored.
Our dog shows may be small compared to some, but the quality of dogs being shown here is competitive. And equally as important is the presence of good sportsmanship and friendship. To place it in perspective for you all, I want to share a couple of my personal favorite stories from our Newfoundland (All-Breed) Kennel Club April Shows.
My first story is one that begins with sadness, but demonstrates the true kindness of the human spirit. A dear friend’s parent passed suddenly. She had already entered her dogs in the shows. Of course, as luck should have it, she owned Standard Poodles, and as you all know, it’s not as if their coats require a little fluffing-the grooming and prepping for a show is a labor of love.
Given her circumstances, she just couldn’t do the shows. Thankfully, her friend who is a professional groomer and long- time dog handler said “don’t worry about the coats I’ll clean them up for you.” Little did she know that her friend had a much larger, master plan! She called me a couple of days before and said “rally the troops – we have Standard Poodles to show!” Of course, I was on board. I called in my recruits – juniors to help with holding the dogs on the tables while she worked her magic of making them show ready. The owner did not know until the day before. Her friend had pulled out her show outfits, had the dogs ready to go and was ready to rock the ring along with another friend to assist with the handling. Well lo and behold, not only did they pull it off, but one of her dogs, Diva, won BPIS, RBPIS, 2 BPIG; Group 1st
and Group 2nd
over specials and BOB twice! On the second day of showing Diva’s owner was able to find the strength to attend the show and witness her beloved dogs being shown to their full potential. Her heart was full of gratitude to everyone who had helped.
My next story is about a friend I made when I first started attending handling classes. We had taken endless classes together and over the months, I watched my friend work extremely hard. Despite his commitment, the show circuit was competitive. One weekend, it all came together and him and his beloved English setter, Mr. Darcy, earned a group placement. When he earned the group placement with his four-legged companion, the smile on his and his wife’s face could not be measured. There were high fives, fist pumps and hugs all around. Witnessing the wins of people you have come to know and enjoy the company of is truly a gift. I was literally bursting outside the ring to congratulate them.
My final story is one where a friend found her second home. A friend posted on her Facebook profile, how she had finally found the place where she belonged. To quote her (with her permission):“I’m officially at the beginning of something that I’ve been missing my whole life. I’ve never been into ‘sports’. I always felt like an outcast and didn’t really fit in. Then I got Flame. Flame may just be a dog to some, but to me he is much more. Every day he helps me be better. He helps me overcome my anxiety each time I go to a show and he always sparks conversation between new people.
I found such a lovely group of friends in the dog show world, some whom I’ve known for a short time, but it seems like forever. I’ve met people who I’d never met in person offer me their homes to stay for show weekends in the province. I have had people offer to drive me across provinces just so we could show together: loyal real friends. Today I’m super proud to be someone who feels like they have a place where they fit in and where I belong! I’ve shown from British Columbia to Newfoundland, but Newfoundland will always hold a soft spot for me.”
If your hearts feel full now, it’s because they should. Winning first place or Best in Show is without a doubt an incredible feeling; however, there is no measure on witnessing firsthand when your comrades win their first group placement, or when you see friends come through for one another in their most difficult times. In the dog show world, we all belong. Enjoy your wins, but don’t forget to celebrate all the incredible acts happening around you – that is where the true sense of comradery can be felt.