Dog events of all kinds are microcosms; this means that they contain all the elements of the larger world -- good and bad, whacky and wonderful. All kinds of people are there, and because the setting is a small one, you get to experience all those different kinds of people. This was definitely brought home to me this past weekend at the three day agility trial I attended in Utah.
There are wonderful people in dogs -- ethical, kind, decent people who show dogs because it is fun and because dogs like to have things to do with the owners they love (and yes, dogs do love). These people -- like the good folks in the "real world" -- care about each other. They understand each other in ways that non-dog friends cannot, and so they celebrate together and cry together, keenly aware that each member of the community will do both things many times over the years. There is something so very comforting about being understood; this is what our wonderful, kind dog friends offer us.
And then there are the mean ones -- the small, jealous, petty mean ones that slink around in every community of people - including the dog world. Why can't they just live among their own kind?
Now, let me begin by noting that none of us are perfect and we all do and say things that are unfortunate at one time or another. Each of us hurts people's feelings, but the difference between a Nice Person and a Mean Person is that a Mean Person doesn't care! In fact, a Mean Person says mean things -- on purpose!!!!!!!!
Lest you think I am becoming cynical, I want to say that I am frequently accused of being a Pollyanna -- Heidi can attest to this, right Heidi? I assume good intentions to a fault almost all the time -- it is something I had to learn, and I do like being good at whatever I do ;) And so it takes a lot for me to suggest that someone is a Mean Person -- but that, my dear reader, is precisely what I am about to tell you.
The place is the agility trial, and the weapon? Words -- the most painful weapon most of us have in our arsenal. The victim? Me -- through my sweet Asia.
Now, you can insult me and you can maybe insult my kids and you might be able to get away with slightly insulting Dear Husband -- but insult my dog? Welcome to my very short list of "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" people.
Yes indeed, Asia has been slighted -- by a judge, you wonder? No. By someone who was asked for her opinion? No. Quite simply -- by a Mean Person who has done this type of thing repeatedly in the past to me and to others. For years I have hopefully thought, "not mean, just clueless" but my opinion is revised -- mean AND clueless. And currently occupying a very high position on the aforementioned "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" list.
Dear Husband said, "why did you even go over to say hello?! She does this to you all the time!" Well, because I was trying to be nice? Because I am optimistic? Assuming good intentions?
Close friends that I texted through my tears were outraged on my behalf -- that made me feel better because it is always good to know your friends have your back. I think they knew it was very serious because in my text I actually used the words instead of just @#$%^&, which is most unlike me (as Heidi can also attest).
It wasn't so much what was said because what was said was just stupid and ignorant and wrong. Please -- I know my dog is not perfect, but she did get her championship in three show weekends at 12 months old with ME as her handler -- she can't be that bad. Rather, it was that someone would so out of the blue make it a point to say negative things about my dog to me -- without being asked for an opinion, and really for no reason at all, other than meanness.
And so if any Mean People are reading this -- listen up. It is really pretty simple -- if you cannot say something nice, just don't say anything at all. And for heaven's sake, if you cannot find something nice to say about a berner -- well, you have a problem and it is bigger than topping my "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" list this week.
When I was a kid my dad tried hard to teach me that incredibly stupid saying that parents tell their kids when they do not want to get off their butts and protect their kids from bullies: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". I love my dad and he is a brilliant person but guess what? Words are cruel weapons, and they do hurt.
I feel sad for people whose lives are so small and bitter that they leak their negativity and meanness all over others -- what a hard life that must be, and I am glad it is not mine. But compassion and understanding does not mean that we must allow ourselves to be insulted and/or abused, and a dark soul is certainly not an excuse for hurting other people.
In the end, I did what my dogs usually do -- I walked away from a situation that was difficult, even though part of me wanted to go for the throat (so to speak). And I sought support from two of my best friends -- friends I knew would "get it" because they are in the Nice People category of the Dog Microcosm. And I fumed and vented to Dear Husband, tried to feel compassion for the Mean Person (didn't work), searched in vain for a voodoo doll, and so on.
And now it is done (sort of) -- and I will implement another lesson that I have learned from my dogs: Assuming good intentions is all well and good but it is best to stay away from bitches that are known to have bad temperaments. I think we should file this with the "Don't Hug a Rattlesnake" lesson -- isn't life just full of lessons? And wouldn't it be nice to just get the lesson notes, and not have to have the painful learning experiences?! Could someone work on that please???
Exhibit A: Asia -- such an unattractive head on a girl, wouldn't you say? (sarcasm alert)
Okay -- I think I am done with my rant, such that it is. Could we please all agree to be nice??? Maybe we could take a niceness pledge???