Where have our loyalties gone?
We’ve all just begun a new year of planning and goal-setting for our TTs. Some of us love our TTs only as friends, while others pursue a passion like conformation, agility, obedience, therapy dog, and so on. Regardless of our preferred hobby, we all have one common ground. We pick whom we will invest our trust. I spent a lot of time last week walking through the Louisville Kentuckiana cluster, one of our country’s largest dog shows, researching “groups” of faithful companions and even interviewing a couple for this story. I spent a lot of time chatting with a group from the South who was set up next to us, and they were a bit more honest about this issue than even I was prepared for! The three females had been together for nearly 10 years, yet revealed that they had “dropped” faithful pals or been thrown out by “reliable” friends! They each had a story to tell about something terrible that had shifted their allegiance, but they all agreed that hindsight had given them some regrets about how and why things had fallen apart. One had a contract disagreement, one was appalled that her faithful buddy had purchased a puppy from a rival brand, and one couldn’t bring herself to speak about her fallen loyal friend without breaking down in tears.
My favorite loyalty phrase makes use of our loving canines to demonstrate how tough it is to find faithful companions!
“There are more instances of dog faithfulness in history than of buddy fidelity.”
Another individual put it this way…
“Canine devotion is legendary – how dogs put their lives in danger to defend their owners; how they stay devoted in the face of hardship and temptation; and how forgiving they are…..
Why is it so difficult to discover one another’s loyalty? Sometimes we believe we’ve discovered it only to be surprised and startled by our friend’s conduct. I am a big believer that no man is an island, yet I have felt like an island many times in the last few months! When you experience a natural calamity like we experienced, you quickly discover who your “genuine and loyal” friends are! I knew precisely who I had in my “loyal” group 48 hours after we were hit by the storm. Some of the folks who weren’t surprised me! I knew we had certain people who would do whatever to make our lives simpler, and they did. Jana, a novice breeder with her first champion, volunteered to travel all the way from Oklahoma to pick up several of our babies! Countless TT Tribune readers also gave assistance. There were also friends who never truly realized that we couldn’t worry about the day-to-day “show things”! They expected us to do things that were no longer feasible. Try caring for a complete family and 8 dogs without electricity, phones, or the National Guard not allowing you to leave for 8-10 days! Add to that no fence, significant damage, running a 5500 square foot home on a single generator, no hot water… and we were the fortunate ones!
Other events have caused me to undertake some profound soul searching regarding my loyalties and the allegiance of others to me. I believe it is quite difficult to enjoy our hobbies and daily activities with our pets if we do not have a devoted set of close pals to share them with. When we are confronting our deepest secrets, we sometimes simply need those folks to confide in, and if you believe we don’t all have them, you are not being honest with yourself!
I believe I have defined my “faithful” friends as those who:
- Be truthful with me.
- Won’t violate my trust for their own advantage.
- Will not abandon our friendship because of a challenge or a significant disagreement.
- Refuses to call my integrity into doubt based on rumors.
- Will debate issues with me in a courteous way that does not include a personal assault on my character.
- Be aware of when they have talked too much!
- Love me no matter what, and for the love of God, STAND UP FOR ME!
I believe the final one is the most important to me, and it is something I have attempted to instill in my children. It’s important how your pals treat you while you’re not around! How do they treat you while they are in the presence of others who may be speaking negatively about you? Do they really care about you?
Loyalty is difficult to maintain! It entails the need to solve difficulties, accept one another’s shortcomings, and accept criticism about oneself. Nobody wants to hear that they have made a mistake!! I just had to listen to some things that were quite tough for me to accept. I was certain that I had done an excellent job on something, only to have a professional I deal with in the dog sport tear me to shreds! I accepted it, learned from it, and implemented improvements based on their recommendations. I recognize that we all have various personalities and handle different circumstances in different ways, yet I have to question myself…
What does it take to be loyal?
Is it a free pass to rain down fire and brimstone on someone we ostensibly consider a devoted ally? I don’t think so! Respect is required for loyalty.
Disagreement is an everyday occurrence in our “competition” life. It is a basic reality… My spouse believes that dog show attendees love to dispute and that we have mastered this art. I believe it is because we are always discussing the dogs, to whom we are emotionally bonded. Consider all of the instances that necessitate our “disagreement” on any given day! We’re lucky to have any pals at all! I’m guilty of it, as we all are to some extent. Disagreement is not always a negative thing, but when handled incorrectly, it may cause a schism in our allegiance. Marcia and I have regular disagreements, and I must say that no one takes a dispute to the table with more elegance and respect than Marcia! We have a friendship that will not “break apart” because of a dispute. Can you image our two brains working on the Tribune every day, 365 days a year, and agreeing on everything? It isn’t feasible. She and I have two entirely distinct roles in putting things together, and it takes a tremendous amount of brainstorming to get an issue up.
I’ve seen a lot of good friends come apart because they couldn’t work out a dispute.
My greatest pet hate with “loyalty” is the arguments that develop around the…
I’VE ALWAYS LOVED “CONTRACTS”! Last year, I made a promise to myself that by the end of the year, I would own all of my pets outright! Hollister will always be an exception since I am his “third” owner and not his principal owner. Everyone else here, though, is a member of our family. The pets I’ve placed with others and remained on as a co-owner are first and foremost theirs. I don’t “Lord” over them and give them ludicrous orders. Contracts seem to be the leading source of “loyalty” breakdowns between pals in this sport. People begin to use their contracts as instruments to dominate the other person, or all of the contract’s terms come to be subject to interpretation. There seem to be so many failed co-ownerships that we need to be more conscious of how we engage in these arrangements with others.
I’m not a contract specialist, and I’m sure most of you aren’t either, but I’ve had a lot of experience with contracts and have discussed them extensively with lawyers over the years. I engaged an attorney while creating our contracts, and I find myself making adjustments and updates to them on a regular basis.
The main issue I see with co-ownerships is that they often do not fulfill the goal for which they were created. When I put a show puppy on co-ownership as a breeder, it is primarily to ensure that the puppy will not be used indiscriminately for breeding until it has earned its title, relevant clearances, and correct age. I also want to know that my dogs will not be bred to indiscriminate lines, for example, or that their progeny will not end up in the hands of someone who does not share our high standards and ethics. This strikes me as a means to “guard” my dogs, lines, and reputation. Our contract guarantees that there will be penalties if we run out and breed a one-year-old “Fluffy” to a one-year-old “Spot”! However, I am not opposed to renegotiating a contract with someone. As a breeder, I feel that I must also be flexible with individuals in the event that their circumstances change. I’ve allowed individuals to purchase out of their contracts with me, I’ve converted show contracts to pet contracts, and pet contracts back to show contracts, and I’ve never demanded anything more than what I believe is reasonable. We all spend so much on titling, clearances, and general care for our dogs that I strive to be extremely fair in what I ask for in return for a show puppy.
I want that person and their pet to be successful. In the end, their success is my success! I don’t have a lot of pups on display contracts. I agreed to sign off the paperwork on one of the final three pups that went to show homes following his championship, with the owner free to change the dog.
Many times, people enter into contracts without completely reading them. What happens if there is a contract dispute? You can’t go to the AKC for aid since they aren’t liable for the problems we make on our property. They advise you to buy pets outright. You may read their guidelines about what happens if a co-owner is suspended from the AKC…the other owners are in a pickle.
It never ceases to surprise me how the best of friends can turn into the worst of foes over a contract disagreement. All of the “loyalty” that surrounds that connection was for nothing since, now that their friendship has been tested, they are unable to reach an agreement. I think that every contract disagreement has a solution, and I know that many times I have had to stand up and be the one to do the “giving” to make it work. I recently sold one of my golden girls entirely to a co-owner since it was crucial to the principal owner that she owns her dogs outright, so we discussed it well and agreed on a suitable buy-out.
She was under the influence of too many owners throughout her life. She had successfully completed her commitments to me, and all clearances were in place, so I believed it was very reasonable to engage with her on a buy-out since she had maintained her half of the bargain.
I believe in contracts and would never put a puppy without one, as well as co-ownerships, but I know what I will and will not get into, and I am adaptable to people’s life changes. So far, I have not experienced a breakdown of “loyalty” with a person as a result of a contract conflict. I’m not claiming everything has always gone as planned, but all loyalties have stayed intact. I currently only have my name on a few pups that I have put in show homes, and this is mainly to “guard” my pets.
I can’t go without noting how much I believe email has harmed our loyalty to one another. It’s both a gift and a burden to be able to sit down at your workstation and send out letter after letter in minutes. We’ve even learnt to send letters to our whole contact book with the push of a single button for those of us who are really computer knowledgeable! Prior to the internet, we seldom sat down and wrote letters, preferring to call instead. I’m finding that it’s become much too simple for certain folks to say what was previously left unsaid now that they can hide behind their computer screen while doing so! How bold we’ve all become, or maybe more accurately, how cowardly we’ve all become! I had to train myself to question myself before hitting the send button, “Would I just as easily pick up the phone or go up to this individual and speak these words?” If I say “no,” my finger can’t get to the erase button quick enough!
The internet should not be a “free for all” for spiteful and gossipy communications. This is adding to the dissolution of our “loyalties.” I’m sure we’ve all gotten one of those by mistake that was meant for someone else! What an embarrassment for the individual who submitted it!
I like the internet and certainly devote a significant amount of time to the Tribune. Email is one of the most useful pieces of technology we have, as long as we realize that the written word may be easily misread and misunderstood, which is why I prefer to call! I communicate more effectively when I can utilize that Indiana draws to get my point through!
I’m fortunate I have a few devoted teammates in my sport…
They help me stay focused and modest!