~ Jonathan Jeffery Kimes (Pluperfect Kennels)
I - ENJOY YOUR DOGS
The primary reason anyone becomes involved with dog breeding and showing is a fundamental love of dogs. We treasure the companionship, the never failing loyalty, the delight they exude. We love to have them on our beds. Their eagerness to face the new day, even when we wake them up at dreadful hours, provides us a wonderment that brings back the exuberance of childhood. They forgive us when we lose our temper, when we are impatient, when we are far less than they are. They bring out the best of ourselves, they nurture the "big" us. Unfortunately, dog breeding and exhibiting can tempt our "little" selves. It can feed a fragile ego until it becomes a raging ego. Often, this need to feel we are better than our fellow man is expressed in our possessions. We need to have the biggest winner, the producer of the most champions, the most champion puppies. We buy, we co-own, we collect. Soon we have no time for dog pleasures, no time to play or rub a grateful belly, no time to stroke a patient brow. Soon we have no room for more dogs; we stack them and crate them and store them as though they were baubles that have no meaning but to make us feel important. We lose our ability to love. Dog showing and breeding is a great vocation. It is creative and challenging and very rewarding. But we must never expect our hobby to take the place of a psychologist's work. We must never expect an unhealthy mental state to be cured by self-indulgence. Far too many people take to showing and breeding for the wrong reasons. Their houses go to ruin, their bank accounts evaporate, their credit hits the skids, their spouses and children are left to survive on their own as the breeder pursues their own manifestation of what they perceive to prove their self-worth. Being a dog breeder is a huge commitment. It means we should assign ourselves the role of lifetime student. It means we will be humbled in countless ways and in countless circumstances. It means our lessons will be of the hard knock variety if we are to truly learn them. It means frustration, long hours, late nights and early mornings. It means never getting to sleep-in again. It means finding friendships - some of which will last for a lifetime and some of which will founder, being built on social advantage. It means being quoted and misquoted and having words put in your mouth. It means being given ample opportunity to be as "small" as a human being can be. But, hopefully, it can provide an opportunity to learn to be "big," to be generous, inquisitive, and adventurous. We should never ask ourselves if we are envied or important or successful. Those questions are meaningless. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves, "Am I proud of the person I've become? What we must always be are dog lovers. We must be their advocates. We must ensure the life of every dog we breed and every dog we own is fulfilled and an illustration of humanity at its nest hour. Our vanity must not be stroked by having our pictures in a magazine or seeing our name on some ranking system. Our self-worth must come from knowing we provide our dogs a life of love, of pleasure, and of happiness.