The Good, the Bad & the Ugly


Every day throughout our country and the world, many of us wake up each morning and turn on the television or radio, or read the local newspaper to get caught up to date on the happenings in our community, city, state, country, and throughout the world.

Our sources of information fill us in on various triumphs and tragedies, and a variety of information that is going on in our world. These events may or may not involve us or a member of our family or circle of friends directly, but sooner or later we all have something that happens which does impact our lives. We rejoice in the news of a birth, a marriage, the success of a friend or family member, our favorite sports team winning, and a variety of things that bring pleasure to our everyday life.

We also mourn with these same people when we hear of death, devastating illness, and many of the other tragedies that we encounter in life. It could be an auto accident, a fire, significant storm damage, theft, assault, and so many of the bad things that happen in everyday life.

We are now almost 25 percent into the twenty-first century and the Y2K worries of 23 years ago seem like a distant joke. Having spent two-thirds of my life in the twentieth century, I think it is safe to say that I have lived through so many changes in the world. It is almost impossible to keep up with all of the technology that’s available to us.

Growing up, if you needed information you went to the library to do your research. You might watch one of the three network news channels or read your local major newspaper to keep up to date on the happenings of the community and the world in general. In those days, news was confined to “Just the Facts.” Who, What, When, Where, and Why. These were the five tenets of journalism. We did not have 24/7/365 news and information filled with edited and editorialized news. We had confidence in our news sources and what we were being told by these sources.

With the advances in technology and the introduction of the cell phone, we now literally have a world of information in the palm of our hand. But, we have also seen a great change in our sources of valid and verified information. We now see a huge discrepancy in the way our news and the events in our world are reported to us. There is truly no way to accurately know what is the actual news and what has been fabricated to fit someone’s narrative or agenda.

All of these advancements have indeed changed our lives. Some changes have been good for mankind, others have been used to reignite tensions, war, and disputes between friends, countries, and all elements in society.

I believe that most people believe in a higher power and would truly like to live in a peaceful world. But history has shown us over and over again that even though we are innocent when we are born into this world, we eventually grow up into the real world where both good and evil exist. I often wonder if, when the day comes that we meet our maker in the next life, will he ask about how we lived our lives on this earth?

It seems that throughout my life there has always been some type of war or military conflict going on somewhere in the world. What I have come to understand is that there are people among us who will always want more, and in some cases, do anything to achieve it. We see it in warfare, business, wealth accumulation, sports, politics, and every facet of life. The desire to have more than the other guy rears its ugly head every day.

I have now been in the sport of dogs for a half century and I am not sure we are headed in the right direction. When I began, there was a better sense of camaraderie, and a better willingness on the part of people to help one another. In most cases, the desire to learn and improve skills and breeding programs was more important than just wins and losses.

I know that we all, at times, have had issues with other exhibitors and we all have had some judges that we weren’t fond of. In those cases, we just did not enter under them. We did not bash them in public, because to do so would have been in bad taste and a display of poor sportsmanship.

In defense of those judges, there is no question that we had many more tried and true “DOG” men and women in those positions. Most had proven track records as breeders and handlers and they progressed accordingly through the system. In today’s world, we have seen how social media, money, and influence seem to have made a difference in our sport. The other day, I saw a report on a poll that said over 40 percent of younger viewers get all their news from TikTok and social media. I find this very scary.

In our world and in our sport today, people don’t always get their information from credible sources and this is why rumors start and carry on. Success in the world of purebred dogs often takes a great deal of time, money, and dedication to your breed and your individual goals. But for some, it is easier to find fault with the judges and other people in the sport to blame for a lack of success.

Our sport is filled with many people who have love for their dogs, their sport, and their fellow competitors. They are the backbone of the sport. They are always there to help one another, especially when a tragedy strikes. They are the first ones to step up to help.

Recently, in Florida, a terrible tragedy struck a professional handler and many of his clients, as his newer and well-maintained motorhome caught fire and, tragically, all the dogs inside were lost to the fire. Decades of dedication to breeding programs were lost in an instant. The majority of our dog community bonded together with prayers, love, well wishes, and all types of support for all of those who suffered this tragedy. It was a display of the GOOD side of our community. I cannot imagine what it must be like for all those involved to deal with a terrible loss like this.

While many took to Facebook and other forms of social media to share their support, there was also the UGLY side of people in our sport who were looking for reasons to place blame and looking to accuse someone for this terrible act of God.

This could have happened to any of us. We may never know what the actual cause was for the fire, but I know that no one is more devastated than the handler and the owners of all the dogs who suffered this tragic loss.

When are we all going to learn that we have a great sport with a great “Global Family” of people who share a common interest and a love for man’s best friend?

The slamming, bashing, and bullying of judges and other exhibitors needs to stop. Look at the facts. At the end of each dog show ONLY ONE dog is standing. In each Group there are only four placements. In each Breed there is only one Best of Breed, One Winners Dog, and one Winners Bitch. All the rest may have been placed, but they all lost. What is gained by bashing and bullying after the fact? You can’t change the results.

I don’t feel sportsmanship is dead yet. However, if we all don’t learn to get along and love and support each other, the real and ugly truth is that our sport is doomed to fail.

Be one of the good guys. Set a good example for the Bad and the Ugly. Maybe with love, luck, and understanding they will change into one of the Good Guys.


Rebirth of a Cluster

The Tennessee Valley Kennel Club and the Oak Ridge Kennel Club have reunited to form the rebirth of the four-day “Great Smoky Mountain Cluster.” Four days of great shows in Conformation, Obedience, and Rally with wonderful music and numerous concurrent Specialties. There will be four concurrent Collie Specialties, three concurrent Newfoundland Specialties, two days of concurrent Vizsla and Bulldog Specialties, and Supported Entries in other breeds as well as four days of Fast CAT. Also, a new date: September 28, 29 & 30 and October 1 in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee, and just a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Dollywood Amusement Park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and a ton of great golf courses.

Make your plans now to attend. MBF is the superintendent.

  • Walter Sommerfelt of Lenoir City, TN has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since acquiring his first Old English Sheepdog in 1972. He is a former professional handler as well as a breeder, and exhibitor of breeds in all seven groups, most notably Vizslas, OES, Pointers, Bearded Collies and Weimaraners. Judging since 1985 he is approved for All Sporting, Working, and Herding breeds and groups, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show and has had the honor of judging on four different continents. Mr. Sommerfelt has judged many of the most prestigious shows in the United States including the herding group at the 2014 Westminster Dog Show in New York City where he has judged on three separate occasions. Mr. Sommerfelt was the founder and chairman for the St. Jude Showcase of Dogs from 1993 until 2009, a unique event showcasing the world of purebred dogs. This special event was the largest collection of various dog events in one location, featuring an AKC all Breed Dog Show, AKC Obedience and Rally Trials, AKC Agility trials, (prior to AKC adding agility NADAC trials ) One of the largest Fly ball tournaments in the U.S.A., Herding and go to ground demonstrations, A main stage featuring performances by Canines from Television and the Movies, Freestyle, Demos by drug and various therapy dogs, A full room of booths for meet the breeds, over 50 AKC judges seminars annually, Lure coursing, A fun Zone for Children, and other dog related fun activities for the general public and their dogs. Over the years the event not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, but also raised awareness of the many activities for people with their dogs as well establishing a voice for dog people in the Memphis area with regard to legislation. Many aspects of today’s AKC Royal Canin show can be traced back to the St. Jude event. Along with Carol his wife of 36 years they have bred well over 90 AKC Champions including Group, Best in Show and Specialty Winners, dual Champions and multiple performance titled dogs. During the past 40 years Mr. Sommerfelt has been active in a number of dog clubs and is currently the President of the Tennessee Valley Kennel Club. He is recipient of the AKC outstanding Sportsmanship Award and is also a career agent and financial planning specialist with Nationwide Insurance. The Sommerfelts’ have two grown children, both former Junior Handlers and they are still active breeders and exhibitors of the Vizsla breed.

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