From the October 2019 Issue of ShowSight: Click to subscribe.
For some time now, I’ve been hearing about how long-time members of the dog show community don’t understand young people (aged 18-30) in the sport, and how younger exhibitors don’t seem to understand the senior breeders who’ve given so much of themselves to our community. People in both groups have even taken to social media to express their resentment of the sport’s younger/older participants instead of trying to support one another and come together.
A lot of our long-time fanciers claim that young people are lazy and not respectful. On the other hand, young people often say that our long-time breeders and exhibitors are living in the past and that they resent change. Well, we all know that for some people these accusations are true. But for the vast majority, these grievances are just a lot of noise. For most people in the sport, the time to put aside our differences and come together for the sake of our dogs is long overdue. We should all be working to figure out how we can come together. We need to make things better for everyone in the dog show community and this will require compromise, understanding and acceptance.
Today’s senior and junior exhibitors have been raised in totally different times. Everyone is aware of the differences and many acknowledge that we have a communication problem today. I truly believe that most, if not all, of the people in our sport would like for this “generation gap” to simply go away. But the lack of mutual understanding and respect has created a communication problem that most of us don’t know how to fix. As a result, the future of our sport can seem in doubt and addressing problems can seem like a lost cause.
But all is not lost.
When a person doesn’t know how to fix something, what do you think they usually do? They resent, attack or walk away. But some of us do want to fix the problems within our community. I know that people want our problems to be fixed, but almost no one is doing anything constructive BECAUSE we don’t always feel supported. The sooner people understand that we won’t accomplish anything by shaming one another or by burying our heads in the sand, the sooner our community will be able to embrace change and come together.
So, what can we do to help? EDUCATION! Let’s consider ways to bring all of us together in the spirit of learning more about one another. Send us your stories about how you’ve managed to learn something from the older/younger generation. How do you feel about the communication problem within our sport? We’d like to hear arguments from both sides. Send us your most powerful, motivational, educational and, most importantly, positive story. (There are enough negative posts out there that we don’t need to add another!) Even if you haven’t run into a communication problem with another fancier, how would you approach the issue if you did?
Understanding and acceptance are two of the most crucial components to everyone’s happiness. The more that we can learn from one another, the better our chances are for finding happiness in the sport that we all love. Let’s motivate and educate!
AJ ARAPOVIC, OWNER & PUBLISHER
THE DOG SHOW MAGAZINE