Dog shows bring together all kinds of people and you can imagine that this dynamic does not always work well. Consider that there are people in the world who think it is perfectly okay to take every advantage in order to do well -- this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. What advantages are okay and when is a line crossed? And who gets to decide?
Consider this scenario -- the obedience building is not available to exhibitors prior to the day of the show. An exhibitor takes her dog into the off-limits building and practices -- is that wrong? Or is it taking an available advantage?
In June I will be attending a draft test, and Cadi will be teamed up with another dog for open brace and the other dog's mom will handle the team. Therefore, I will not be the dogs' handler -- so could I stand ringside with folded arms (a stay cue) in sight of Cadi while the "handler" is out of sight for the stays? Isn't that just taking an available advantage?
There is a big difference between an advantage that does not break a rule, and an advantage that does; they are not the same. Going into an off limits building to practice absolutely gives an advantage to a dog/handler -- and it also violates rules about when/where a dog/handler can be. If I stood ringside and gave Cadi a stay cue it would be double-handling, and that is an advantage but it also is a rule violation.
Who cares about rules anyway?? It is only a dog show so it is not a big deal -- right?!!!
Wrong. Following rules shows respect for other people -- that is the bottom line. When I follow rules, I am letting people know that I do not think I am above them -- I do not think that I am so special that I do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Following rules lets people know that we are trustworthy, ethical, and want to play nicely and respectfully everyone else.
An advantage is what I have by being able to train in an arena at my own house, or to train VST on the campus where the test will happen. An advantage is having access to lessons and workshops and so on... When a rule is violated, it is no longer an "advantage" -- it is cheating.
Again, dog shows are not the most important thing in life -- but I guess being the best person we can be is -- in my opinion. And people who cheat at dog shows -- or who think rules are for other people -- well, you can bet that this reflects personal character and is not just something that happens at the dog show.
Mixing cheaters with people who see dog shows as a chance to practice integrity is kind of a mess. And it can get discouraging because cheaters -- well, they cheat! And when you call them on it they say stuff like, "everyone does that" and "it is a dumb rule anyway" and "I was just taking an advantage" or "I didn't know I couldn't be in that building".
And then they try to make the honest people look bad -- like we are uptight, naive, and/or don't know what we saw with our own eyes! But then again -- what else would we expect from the cheaters? An apology?! The truth?! Not in their nature...
The nature of a rattlesnake is to bite and not think that is wrong, because biting is what rattlesnakes do. The nature of cheaters is to cheat and not think that is wrong because cheating is what cheaters do -- but they call it, "taking an advantage". Just as you cannot really teach a rattlesnake not to bite, cheaters are also kind of a hopeless cause because they lack certain qualities that are needed to be decent, respectful, honest people -- and one of these is an awareness of their nature.
Bummer for all of us -- even the cheaters.
What is not a big fat bummer is my cute mother-daughters - here are a couple of them, starting with Halo and Zoey...
And how about look-alikes Cadi and Sydney -- are they cute or what?!
So remember friends -- Be Nice (aka No Cheating). And have a wonderful day free of mean people, cheaters, and all other manner of unpleasantness :)