As some of you know, I have bred and shown my Golden Retrievers for many years, and I love it. It is fantastic being part of a network of like-minded people, many of whom I now call friends, being able to walk into a venue and say “Hi” to everyone and genuinely feel “at home” amongst them. I honestly can’t remember it ever being any different. Just recently, my friend Jane, has decided to start showing her puppy (that I bred) and has been entering shows and coming with me, suddenly I am starting to remember how tough it is to get into any new activity.
In her everyday life, Jane is a headmistress, she is very confident and used to meeting different people every day. She hasn’t won anything with her puppy, in fact she’s not even been placed and she accepts that, she knows she has to do her time, learn how to handle the puppy to its best advantage and sometimes be placed behind lesser specimens whose owners are better known, she knows it would probably win if I took it in, it goes with the territory. However, what she is really finding difficult is being a “non-person.”
On our last trip out I was saying to her that it must be nice that people are starting to talk to her and it was great she was being included and I have to admit to being taken aback when she said, “They don’t talk to me Sue, they talk to you and smile at me but no one actually talks TO me, if you didn’t introduce me, no one would even know my name”.
It got me thinking back to when I started, I remember standing by the ringside when the Top Winners were in the line-up, wondering how I would ever feel part of it all, how I would know everyone and looking back I wonder why I carried on. I remember, a few years later, when I was better known, standing with one of my friends who was Top Breeder at the time and another exhibitor coming up to talk to her and turning her back on me because she didn’t recognise me, when my friend introduced me and she realised she knew my name, all of a sudden this exhibitor wanted to talk to me too, but I’ve never forgotten being treated like the Kennel Maid by her.
We have a big problem in the world of dogs with falling entries and lack of new, enthusiastic young exhibitors and I guess its maybe that we aren’t actually very welcoming, if a middle-aged headmistress is struggling to find her feet, then it’s hardly surprising that youngsters aren’t continuing to show.
With the Alpaca show season coming up and the excitement of the long-awaited National Show, I wonder how many Alpaca newbies will be feeling the same as my friend? Wouldn’t it be nice for them to have someone to chat to and help them?
I have decided I’m as guilty as everyone else of being “too busy” sometimes, and I’m vowing to try and be a bit more welcoming, it may take some practice but I’m going to give it a go
Kate Brookes – 15th November 2021″