I read an article today by another blogger. It stated, in typical sexist fashion, that only a “terrierman with dirt under his nails” is a real dogman, as opposed to “the overweight matron with gold lacquer on her finger nails.”
I supposed that’s supposed to refer people like me, who show dogs and have vaginas, and like the original author, clearly don’t have a personal trainer.
Sexism aside, the rest of the post clearly implies that doing dog sports (such as lure coursing with my Whippets, as opposed to lamping with them) is “pretend” dogmanship, and also that such dogs who participate are worthless (or at least that their existence is pointless).
Well, since lamping on Clearwater Beach (where I grew up) isn’t super practical, I was quite happy to discover lure coursing. I had the luck to live somewhere where meeting another dog person, who just might give me a ride (as a child) to a dog event was not unusual. Thus, I was introduced to the world of dogs, sighthounds, and lure coursing. A similar course events lead to my introduction to dog shows, obedience training, and other dog sports.
My dogs have always been companions first, and they forever will be. The notion that being a pet, a friend, is a meaningless job that “any ol’ dog” can do is endlessly frustrating to me. The number of behavior specialists who have a job, and the number of dogs in shelters, clearly indicate that a large portion of ill-bred dogs cannot cut it as companions. A pet dog actually needs to be an even more stellar example, in some ways, than many dogs owned by professionals. A very savvy handler can manage or modify most annoying or difficult behaviors. A pet in a true pet home must be stable, easy going, biddable, healthy, easy to care for, and generally pretty flexible and pleasant to live with, even with a handler with a low skill set.
A show dog may belong to a more savvy than average handler, but he still needs more than a pretty face and a dose of flashy side movement. Show dogs need to be able to handle change, travel, multiple handlers, intensive grooming, loud noises, crowds, buildings, surfaces, speakers, and being touched by many different people. Being animated, out going, biddable, and very stable is paramount for a dog to have any real success in the ring, regardless of breed.
Both jobs are better suited to healthy, sound-minded, long-lived animals of quality. There’s also literally nothing wrong with owning dogs that one finds pleasant and beautiful to look at, for any reason.
I’ve long subscribed to the idea that doing anything legal, safe, and fun with one’s dog is a good thing. I have a hard time imagining discouraging any person from participating in a fun activity with his or her pet dog. After all, dogs love training, bonding, exercise, and time with their people. Getting out and socializing with other dog lovers is wonderful for the handlers, too (usually!).
This other blogger’s post ended with a flat out statement that anyone who isn’t working a dog on a real farm, hunting, or similar setting has no need to purchase a well-bred puppy of the breed they prefer, but should adopt a shelter dog. In his region of the country, and my own, that means a young adult, poorly bred pit bull terrier.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Every dog owner deserves the breed of dog they desire and which suits them best as a companion. It’s rather obtuse to imagine that working dog handlers don’t also live with their dogs as friends, too. Any purpose a dog has, his first job is as a companion, in most cases. If one’s ideal dog happens to be a poorly bred pit bull mix (which might excel at fly-ball or agility or weight pull, and can be a good, active pet for some households), then so be it.
The rest of us have no more obligation to clean up other peoples’ messes (that don’t suit our households) than does the working dogman who requires a specific breed and bloodline to do the job required.
Any dog’s job is as worthy as the next. I find these remarks from a so-called dogman especially ironic since this individual also loudly opposes Greyhound racing, a sport and industry where some of the last true dogmen in the world thrive, full of wisdom to pass on, along with a deep love and respect for their beautiful, athletic animals. Perhaps a terrierman who longs to own and work his dogs into the future might consider a more open-minded view of others who treasure their dogs, the breeding those dogs have, and the activities they enjoy sharing with those animals.
He may or may not change his views, but regardless, I’ll be painting my nails and getting ready for my next dog event.