I have never met any person who did not have some type of goal, dream, or desire in life.
I believe that everyone, from the time they are born, goes through life in stages. And all along the way, they pursue a variety of goals and dreams: The young boy who dreams of hitting the home run to win the World Series, making the buzzer-beating shot to win the basketball game or scoring the winning touchdown to win the championship; the young girl playing with her Barbie doll, thinking of the day she meets her prince charming and has her fairytale wedding; or the young children born into poverty or a broken home, dreaming of the day when they will no longer have to worry about food, clothing, abuse and so many other things that they may face. Some may dream of being the next American Idol while others imagine life as doctors and nurses, teachers or some other career choice.
Having dreams and prayers is all part of life. As we grow, our prayers and dreams change… but we all still have them. In many cases, we will achieve some of them, and in other cases, things just never fall into place. In life, there will be numerous times when we are disappointed in the moment. But as time goes on and we look back, we may think of that Garth Brooks song, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
Having dreams or a “bucket list” is healthy and can be a great driving force to achieving success. Here, in the sport of purebred dogs, our goals and dreams vary greatly among all of us.
The first-time owners of a new puppy get excited about their first ribbon, first points, and their goal of achieving a Championship on their family pet. Or maybe they get excited to go after and achieve a performance title, CCG, or another title on their four-legged friend.
There are also the youngsters who get involved in Junior Showmanship, which begins an adventure with the goal of their first win before moving up through the ranks from Novice to Open to Master Class. They have the aspiration to qualify for Westminster or the AKC National Championship and, in some cases, eventually making a career out of showing dogs as a professional handler.
Most of us started as an exhibitor and, eventually, became breeders whose goals were to improve our breed with healthy, happy, and temperamentally sound puppies that would grow up to be successful in the show ring or performance arena, and become a good contributor to the future of the breed, but most importantly, a great puppy going to a forever home that would be loved as a valuable member of someone’s family.
As breeders, we looked forward to new titles for our bred-by dogs. We looked forward to achieving championships, Best of Breeds, Group placements and, of course, the ultimate: “Breeder/Owner-Handled Best in Show winner.” Some of us are fortunate to have reached that goal. Others continue to breed and show, and hope to someday realize that dream.
Some people in our sport aspire to join the ranks of the judging community and, eventually, preside over their breed’s National Specialty or the plum assignments of Westminster, the AKC National Championship, and numerous other prestigious assignments. Some look forward to the opportunity to visit and officiate at shows in other countries as well as the opportunities to see different dogs and cultures throughout the world.
Most of us also accept the fact that in today’s world, our economic circumstances either limit our possibilities or, in some cases, provide us with the limited opportunity to campaign and achieve those goals. Life, after all, does not always provide us with a level playing field. There is no doubt that it helps to have the money to campaign our dogs. However, even those with a limited budget can still achieve many goals through careful and strategic planning—and exhibiting high-quality dogs.
When you compete or participate in any area of our sport, you need to remember that all of the other exhibitors are just like you. They are seeking to achieve their own goals. And although there are times when it seems that our dreams will never be fulfilled, the strong among us keep on striving for success.
Remember too that part of being a good winner is also being a good loser. We live in a world full of bad behavior and our sport needs to be one where we accept our losses and cherish our wins. We need to be considerate of others, helping the newcomer to achieve his or her goals and dreams. We need to congratulate and support one another. We all need to recognize that every exhibitor in all areas of our sport is a MEMBER OF OUR DOG FAMILY.
Let’s make it one of our Dreams and Goals to support each other. Let’s stop the criticism and complaining. Let’s try to be the sport (and the sportsmen and women) that, no matter if you’ve won or lost, we are happy to belong to as a family of dog-loving enthusiasts.
Never stop having Dreams and Goals—just keep working hard to achieve them. The motivation and the eventual achievement will make your life fulfilling.