I am a complainer. I embrace my status as a person who by nature will find the flaws, holes, gaps and problems much faster than I can find the good in any given situation.
I’ve developed several coping mechanisms through the years (Namely a penchant towards short cathartic rants on the ills of the universe as I see them) and in general I have a pretty good handle on the tendency. Awareness of my own flaw however, does not give me much sympathy towards the flaw in other people.
While many things annoy me greatly…
…nothing irritates me much more than the impotent whining of the self-righteous on things they themselves will not address constructively.
There is in fact a difference between having a legitimate concern for ‘The state of Dogdom and all its Glory, forever and ever, Amen” and bitching or gossiping bitchily because you disagree with a result. One is dealt with in a manner that has the intent and potential of making a difference. The latter is annoying, stupid and a major factor in why I hate* socializing with dog people.
So let’s break it down, minions. I’m going to give you a few situations, and you can pick your best solution.
Situation Number One: You had a great day showing. You finish your run and you just know you’ve killed it. As the 200s dance in your head, a secondary well-known and traditionally successful trainer came in and apparently wasn’t having a good day either. Their dog was bumping, forging and you’re pretty sure you saw their dog pee on a stanchion or maybe a steward… You knew it! The blue ribbon is yours and hey, probably HIT and best dog in the world! The time for pinning arrives and in you march into the ring with the grin of knowing you’ve won plastered on your face. He calls the first place winner and as you go to get the ribbon you realize the name called wasn’t you…
A) Loudly seethe about how you know you should have won and the judge was clearly biased. Spend weeks complaining about how the judge was so incredibly unfair and was ruining the sport of obedience. Enter the following weekend with the remnant chip on your shoulder under the same judge just knowing you’re never going to get a fair shot.
B) Accept your prize and congratulate the winner, keeping your inner curiosity about the placings to yourself. When the judge has a moment, ask them to explain your score and where you could have improved. Spend weeks working and training your dog, and maybe watching the film of your run particularly in your weaker areas, and re-enter the ring more knowledgeable about your flaws as a handler.
C) Accept your prize and congratulate the winner, keeping your mouth shut about the placings. You may not have been convinced the the judge’s reasoning but rather than create a scene or start a trial you decide to simply vote with your entries.
D) Accept your prize and congratulate the winner, keeping your mouth shut about the placings. When people approach you about how they thought the class should have been pinned, you brush it off with the “It’s just a game” chestnut and move on. After all, you don’t know what the judge saw that was different.
E) Accept your prize and congratulate the winner, keeping your mouth shut about the placings. You were unconvinced of the judge’s reasoning and you had heard previously of a bias towards certain breeds. After approaching the representative, they re-direct you to the trial chairperson where your concerns over bias are addressed and potentially reported to the AKC.
If you picked B, C, or D, you’re probably a good sport with a good handle on the reality of dog performance events and the realities of competition. It’s not always what you think it is and you don’t always get what you deserve but in the long run, it will all balance out.
If you’ve picked E you may be taking this all a little too seriously. Yes, there is a mechanism in place for misconduct, but if you are truly distressed or it was a massive issue at least this is constructive if fruitless.
If you picked A, you are the problem, a bad sport and why so many people are turned off competitions, period.
Ignoring the lack of courtesy, what could possibly have made that the right choice? The most offensive piece of all of that isn’t that the judging was unfair (Heck, what isn’t unfair?) it’s that you chose to complain uselessly rather than attempt something. Anything is better than the endless whining of the self-righteous sore loser.
Situation Number Two: You had a great day showing. Your dog did great. During sits and downs for a separate class, you notice the spouse of another handler standing and staring fiercely at their dog.
A) Wander over to the spouse and strike up a conversation. Distract them from their double-handling in a friendly but persistent way eliminating their assistance.
B) Wander over to the spouse and politely let them know that a steward could mistake their stance and presence as double-handling. If they were to make themselves scarce or at least not be ringside it could prevent a future NQ.
C) Whisper loudly and widely to others about the blatant cheating going on. Inform all (Except the steward, judge or trial chair) that this person is a cheater and should have been excused.
D) Quietly point it out to a nearby steward, who can take it from there.
In this case either A, B or D are perfectly acceptable responses. It is not your direct responsibility to monitor the behavior of competitors, nor should it be, but a friendly heads up could prevent issues in the future. D also removes the potential awkwardness particularly if you are unfamiliar with the person or their spouse.
C is not acceptable as a competitor or a human being.
It basically comes down to the basic principle of constructive attitudes vs. impotent bitching. Constructive approaches will actually solve or at least begin to address the issue. Impotent bitching is just an echo chamber of dissatisfaction on complaints. It’s the opposite of constructive.
I get it. It’s hard to be constructive sometimes when all you want to do is bitch, but those are thoughts and tears best saved for your diary or in my case a blog.
So in summary, the “AKC Code of Sportsmanship” isn’t just something written up for kicks. It is the standard to which we all agree to upon signing our names on the dotted lines. “Train, Don’t Complain” is a pretty popular refrain for a reason, that I highly suggest we all live by. Perspective on all of this is important and until you can get it, shut up already.
*My best friends are dog people who feel the same way as I do. Perspective is given in big doses so the tolerance for useless whining is incredibly low. Things balance out in the end. It’s a sliding scale of karma.