Next up in our rampant profiling we have…. *trumpets blare*
The Faux Avid Sportsman
Description: The Faux Avid Sportsman is that dog owner who talks a big game, but when it comes down to it, they’re just as lazy, if not lazier, than the rest of us. Filled with grand ideas, seemingly endless funds, and a gift of blarney, the F.A.S, has all the best intentions and none of the follow-through. Notable in their ability to bluff their way through any conversation about their chosen non-venue, initial contact will be surprisingly pleasant. They seem knowledgeable and they will certainly be dressed the part. To their credit, the F.A.S. usually has impeccable, if rather overpriced taste. Seynaeve, Ruffwear, Vibram (which is a whole other post) or custom–only the best will do. As time passes however, and you yourself develop the same knowledge, you begin to notice that the F.A.S. is unusually silent about their actual accomplishments. As practical training issues arise you and you seek out their help (since they have after all, sold themselves as experts), it is nearly impossible to not find their superficial, generally unhelpful, and condescending tone rather grating. After realizing they can no longer coast on a Google search or partial chapters of books, the F.A.S. begins to make excuses as to why their dog “can’t”. In reality, they just can’t be bothered to actually attend or even sign-up for the classes they profess to know all about. Even the simplest of tasks becomes too difficult to the point that even walking their under-exercised pooch is inconvenient and too difficult. They will however remain undeterred in their belief that they would be the best ‘If only <insert excuse> wasn’t <insert faux obstacle>”. Active dog sport enthusiasts and anyone who’d ever helped in an obedience class typically find these types infuriating in their laziness. In their case a little knowledge is a dangerous and extraordinarily irritating thing.
Common Locations: The F.A.S. can be frequently found trolling the internet dog forums informing everyone and anyone who will listen about all the marvelous things they intend to do with their dogs. In reality however, good luck finding this elusive beast. They are home-dwellers rarely straying from the safety of their custom built kennels. You will occasionally find them meandering through specialty pet stores or even the large chains, dressed in full pet regalia. Their premier location however, and where you can view them in their natural habitat, is at specialty dog events. From festivals, Pet Days, local kennel-club events, to large-scale adoption events, the F.A.S. thrives in these environments. They like nothing better than amazing the public with their faux-experience.
Breeds Owned: German Shepherds, Border Collies, or any other breed that is commonly found in the dog sport and performance world. These dogs are often from top-notch breeders but don’t be fooled– a good performance breeder rarely sells an actual performance dog to someone with no previous experience.
Skill Level: Moderate. Although these owners have the best of intentions and a reasonable amount of dog knowledge, it is difficult to assess their true skill level since they rarely follow through with their plans.
Catch Phrases: “We’re totally going to sign up for that next!”, “Oh yeah, I’m waiting for my new bite sleeve”, “We’ve done novice obedience” (read: they took a class once)
BusyBee: In one of the first puppy classes I attended with Mr. T, we met an older woman with a Newfoundland puppy. Within minutes of meeting her, the woman spouted off all sorts of plans to get the puppy involved in water rescue. She claimed to have done water rescue with her previous Newfie and was certain that her newest pup would be an amazing candidate. When she asked me what my goals were for Mr. T, and I said “to not be an asshole”, she scoffed and told me that I had to find some sort of sport to do with him to give his life purpose. Every week at our puppy class, the woman bragged about her plans for her puppy, her contact with the local Newfie club, and the latest gear she had gotten (ranging from life-vests, long-lines, a bevy of bumpers, life-rings, and so on) while shaming me for not finding a suitable sport for Mr. T. Over the next year, we ended being in several more obedience classes together, and each time, I was bombarded with the same information as before, but realized that no progress had actually been made toward this goal other than having a closet full of gear. Eventually we took a break from classes and didn’t see the woman and her dog regularly anymore. That is until, about a year later (our dogs were now 2 years old), I saw her at a local dog park with beach access. Curiously, her dog wouldn’t go anywhere near the water, which seemed odd given surely he was well on his way to becoming a water rescue dog by now. Upon catching up and asking how her dog was doing, I found out that she never actually enrolled him in any water rescue training because she got too busy, and now at age 2, he refused to swim. While Mr. T paddled around merrily in the water, I had to chuckle that somewhere in this woman’s basement, stashed along with her dreams of water rescue, was a whole lot of gear, most likely still with price-tags on it.
Fang: These are the dog owners who frustrate me endlessly. Several months ago work clients showed up in our obedience classes with an active herding breed puppy. Weeks of obedience and working with this puppy had the owners excited and interested in the possibilities of dog sports with him… or so they said. They struggled with basic boundaries at home and despite his near-perfect class manners he was in their opinion a different dog at home. Hours were put into this dog and his owners on the best way to solve simple puppy/jerky teenager issues in a way they felt comfortable. Suddenly they stopped attending classes all-together and less than a month later show up with a second puppy. The lone requirement for the new puppy was a specific coat color. Initial puppy is now an adolescent menace who they can barely manage due to a lack of boundaries and being underexercised. The new puppy is actually a fantastic sport prospect and it kills me to see him wasted on people who talk a good game but have zero intention of putting in the grunt work achievement takes.
Potnoodle: My experience with the F.A.S.began when I started my first agility class, there was someone in my class that fit the profile perfectly. Of course, at the time, I didn’t recognize the Faux Avid Sportsman. She had a fairly impressive breed that she intended to show in conformation. She was in my agility class, which was intended for people that wanted to compete. She was also in an AKC obedience class and a member of an IPO (then Schutzund) club. In fact, she was a member of every available dog club in the area. She also had all sorts of stories about what she had done with her childhood dogs. Her first dog turned up as a monorchid (one balled, for those not in the know) and instead of neutering and pursuing the interests she could with an altered dog, she bought another dog from the same breeder. When that dog was deemed too shy for bite work, she bought yet another dog from the same breeder. At this point, she dropped out of my agility class. When I next saw her, she had euthanized one of the dogs for behavior issues and had yet another puppy that she and her then fiance had gotten from the same breeder. That’s five dogs, if you’re keeping count. None of them with a title. At what point do you figure out that maybe the dog isn’t the problem? Eight years later, she still does nothing with her dogs, and when I last saw her she was telling me all about the miniature horses she had and how she was going to enter them in driving competitions. Perhaps she’s a big name in the miniature horse world now, but somehow I doubt it.