Page 164 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 164

                WHAT ARE YOU
Change is never easy, be it temporary or permanent. Like everyone else, the dog show community is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have, over the past two weeks, moved from disbelief, to shock, to horror, to creativity. If we are anything, we dog people are among the most resilient communities in the world.
We are still in touch with each other, we have our dogs, who love us unconditionally, and we now have time to focus on many things that we have set-aside for “later” for far too long. We are experiencing firsthand the caring and support of our colleagues. We post and message about what we are going through, and what we are all about now, and what we are looking forward to in the future. And as the conversation pauses over our differences of opinion and differences in approaches to the risks we face now, we find ourselves moving to discussion of the many beautiful pictures of litters of puppies online, and the promise for the future of our dog sports.
Many who relied on dog shows as their primary source of income have been seen explor- ing other opportunities, making training and grooming videos, finding ways to cope with the sudden lack of employment. It is a huge challenge for all who have devoted their lives and cre- ated a place, a persona, a success in training and performing with dogs. An unexpected, forced vacation is not part of their work ethic, so we see the extra effort going into training, grooming, conditioning, and breeding for the future. “Have you seen the beautiful litter of Rhodesian Ridgebacks? Won’t they be fun to see grow up? Hoping there will be some wonderful show dogs out of that litter!”
Those who have young dogs that would be in the classes this spring and summer are taking advantage of this time off from dog shows to fine-tune the training and grooming. They are fine-tuning their relationships with these promising young dogs and finding what motivates each of the dogs and what works best to move them at the correct speed to show off the structure and function of the dogs. Stacking and praising, cajoling and reminding, dreaming that this will be one of those dogs whose type and movement—and all the hours of training and condi- tioning—will be rewarded in the show ring. Dreaming of a dog that will finish in one weekend with three 5-point majors, or finish at the (rescheduled) National Specialty. “Have you seen the pictures and video of that Whippet litter that is five months old now? Such beautiful curves, and so smooth moving around! They will be old enough to show when we have shows again. I am so looking forward to seeing them in person!”
Breeders—oh, our wonderful preservation breeders of purpose bred dogs—are using this time well! This has truly become the year of the breeder as other parts of our obsession have been put on extended hold, and breeders are excited to have time at home. They are studying standards and looking at dogs and talking about who has produced such wonderful examples of the breed. There are lots of posts about the histories of various breeds, including wonderful pic- tures of long-gone dogs, and discussion of long ago breeders and what they were focused on in the breed. They are studying pedigrees. They are looking at the health testing results and work- ing to find the ideal pairs to move their breed forward and produce healthy dogs that adhere to the Breed Standard and are capable of performing their historical functions. “Have you heard? She is breeding that beautiful Poodle using frozen semen! That should be a wonderful litter. Did you see the pedigree on the Italian Greyhound litter she is expecting? The parents are both so correct! I have puppy fever just hearing about the litter of Irish Terriers he has coming up!”
As a community we are grateful for our dogs, our relationships with our dogs, and the future of our dog sports. We have not given up. We are using this pause to do important work. Like the rest of the world, we are worried, we are stressed, and we want to have our lives back the way they were before COVID-19. We push through all of it for the sake of our dogs, our breeds, our dedication to our sport and our pets. Have you seen the work going into our sport? Have you seen the pictures and videos of our future prospects? Have you seen the litters being planned for the next time our girls come into season? That is what we are all about, and we will come out of this with energy, and beautifully conditioned young dogs and well-bred new puppies training to be the next generation of top winning show dogs. Hope to see you at a dog show soon!

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