Columns: No Margins, No Limits, No Kidding!
Dog Friends, Mentors and Internet
Dog show photos, ribbons and show leads are packed away but memories are kept alive by the internet, facebook and people who remember...
March 3, 2020 | TheDogPress.com
CinDee Byer, Breed Clubs Editor/Journalist Award Winner
The show grooming products have grown old and outdated. The show photos that hang on the wall are of people and dogs that are no longer with us. Their names have been erased from dog clubs and internet lists. It is what dog shows look like after we have gone but great Mentors are still there in our memories and in all that we have learned and who we have become.
It has been a year since my husband Joe Byer passed away. He was a mountain of a man and passionate about dogs. However, like many great people in the dog show world his name has already been forgotten. Lately I have watched my old dog show friends go on by. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed.
Today there are fewer breeders and even fewer knowledgeable mentors. However, the disagreements are still the same. They just fight themselves out in the darkness of anonymity in a place called the Internet.
The Internet is full of ready-made friends and mentors with quick information. Sadly, it is not always accurate. In some ways it has been good but mostly it has passed on misinformation. This misinformation has all but destroyed the purebred dog.
In 2003 the CANINE CHRONICLE invited readers to a discussion concerning using the Internet to create an organization for finding mentors. I responded. The following is an excerpt from that letter. Although written over 15 years ago the message is still valid.
“I am not a fan of the internet. Instead of technology bringing the fancy closer together, the internet is quickly creating rifts and driving us all farther apart. We are forgetting the educational experiences and friendships that are forged through face to face meetings. We are missing out on all those wonderful ringside conversations, those memorable dinners after the shows and hours spent sharing thoughts about the days gone by while enjoying a few drinks, laughs, good friends forming bonds and yes, meeting mentors.
"Is passion so far gone from our sport that we now need to form dog clubs and by-laws in order to share knowledge with others?
"I feel sorry for the newcomers if this is how mentoring is viewed today. Mentoring is not a club you can join, an organization you can work for or a certification you can earn. Just as passion is not something you can win at a show, steal from someone, or purchase on the open market. The obligation to befriend and to mentor others are qualities within ourselves and are developed over time.
"I define passion as the voices of the past and their vision for the future which stirs our minds and hearts. Passion is the part of us that strives to be our best, pushes us forward and allows us to leave our imprint as well as the imprint of those who have set the standard and have gone before us in this world.
"Mentoring is a natural process of passion. Without passion to drive us harder to learn and to teach we are simply going through the ceremonial motions without any deep or meaningful understanding. We are just words on a screen where everyone is an expert and no one is held accountable for their statements. This is the internet. A black hole of lost hope, a wasteland of names without faces, experts without credentials and a place where one can find instant, but many times only temporary, gratification.
"Unfortunately, the “I want it now” culture has infiltrated our sport. Many of the current members being placed in high ranking positions are devoid of passion for the dog show sport’s history or future. The emphasis today is on winning and more winning. Winning without purpose, direction or vision is most certainly a formula for failure.
"The search for mentors develops a student's skills, character, beliefs as it germinates the seed of passion. Our hope is that one day these students will become the mentors of tomorrow. Someone asked me “How do you know that this is passion?
"After many failed attempts of explanation, it occurred to me passion is not explainable. Like a belief in God, passion is either there or it is not. You cannot convince someone of God’s existence if they do not feel Him in their life just as you cannot convince someone of passion if the seed is not there to begin with. However, I do know if there are no mentors to fan the flames of passion, it can and will die.
"Great mentoring begins with a good student. A student who works harder, is able to laugh at failure and remain thirsty for success. It is a good student who forms a vision for the future using the knowledge of the past. It is this student who knocks at doors, rings the phone and is willing to work his way up while all the time enjoying the journey before him. It is this student that realizes that success is just a pit stop on this journey we call life.
"Great mentoring is still out there and it’s right in front of us. However, we must always remember while striving for progress, old is not necessarily bad. Great mentors were students first and continued to learn as well as teach. Great mentors know that the knowledge one receives is only as good as the knowledge that we share.”
So, let’s turn off the computer and share an after-show dinner with dog friends and mentors. We’ll share stories, knowledge, perhaps a few drinks, and form some lasting friendships...face to face!
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