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Dog Clubs According to Groucho
Do you know the purpose of dog clubs? Does your club meet the definition or are you in denial about your membership? Bark back comments are welcome!
April 2015 | TheDogPress.com
Joseph Byer, Jr., Research Editor
Q: “What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
A: “Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog." — Groucho Marx
We, the significant other and myself, came together because of dogs. We moved out of the city to the country specifically for our dogs. So, when we considered joining our first dog club it was with great anticipation of things to come; we were advancing into the world of dogs, for our dog's sake.
Several prominent breeders and at least one AKC judge were members in our first club. It typically held several matches and shows throughout the year, conducted classes and in general represented to us the essence of becoming true blue dog enthusiasts. We thought this was a move up in the world of dogs for us; so we joined.
Groucho Marx said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."
We attended every meeting and volunteered for every club project that came along. I helped at their classes and was given many of the more difficult dogs in class. At club matches I was assigned to setting up the rings and other related obedience equipment. My significant other's forte is art, she studied commercial art in college and she used that talent to create posters, flyers and other supporting club literature. She even designed a logo for the club to be put on T-shirts and other advertising media and donated her creation to the club. The old-timers were very encouraging of our collective efforts and expressed their appreciation often. We were indeed moving up in the dog world.
After about a year the powers that ruled the club decided to appoint the significant other as "Hospitality Chair" and she took to it with a desire to make it better than ever. Refreshments for the club meeting attendees was paramount to conducting club business it seemed. The responsibility was portrayed as important, perhaps a step to greater things in the future. Basically she was the donut and coffee girl at the meetings but it meant our doggie careers were definitely on the upswing.
At the community building where our monthly meetings were held, my significant other would be responsible for setting up before each club meeting, cleaning up after and tearing down and transporting and storing the supplies until the next meeting. The night of a meeting meant transporting from home all the supplies to the 2nd floor meeting room and set it all up. (NOTE: two flights of wooden stairs with no elevator.) It was also her responsibility to pass the hat for money to pay for the supplies, etc. used in the performance of her "Hospitality Chair" duties. At the conclusion of the meeting the cleanup and tear down reversed the setup procedure, all on two flights of wooden stair with no elevator assist!
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." — Groucho Marx
It is important to point out a fact that was clearly evident to the entire club. They had for some time now seen me carrying her up those stairs and after the meeting, down again. My significant other has a debilitating muscle disease that prevents her from carrying anything. She is not able to walk without assistance and steps were an impassable barrier. Why these club members found it appropriate to "honor" her with the appointment to this position is beyond my comprehension, but they were continually expressing their appreciation for our help. I chose to do everything I could to support her in the new role because our doggie careers might benefit from the task.
Now that you have the whole picture; that a disabled person was put in charge of providing coffee and donuts plus all the accoutrements at the club's monthly meetings. A person who had to be carried to the second floor because there was no elevator. It seem to defy reason that the club officers could see the physical difficulty my significant other was dealing with and still select her for "Hospitality Chair". But they did.
Groucho Marx famously remarked, “I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.”
I assumed the role of "beast of burden" and carried the significant other, the coffee urns (2), coffee, cream, sugar, stirrers, napkins, donuts, or other sweets, etc. up two flights of stairs, set up and tore down at the end, plus whatever cleanup was necessary, including taking the garbage out, which I did as well.
My wife had a most intense desire to do a "bang-up" job and in that spirit provided some home-made treats on club meeting nights. We did these things with a desire to be the best and were encouraged by the club President and some other high ranking members. We felt that we were doing everything right in our quest to elevate our dog knowledge.
The meetings were a smoky-affair since most of the club matrons were chain-smokers. The two hour meetings were about all we could stand as adequate ventilation was lacking and the smoke just hung in the unventilated room. It was these same people who enjoyed the home-baked sweets and coffee but complained every time we asked for donations for the "coffee fund". They would say, "We paid last month" and ask us why we are again asking for money.
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx
Then came club elections and I was nominated to be on the board. The nomination came from my significant other feeling that we had come through our probationary period with flying colors and wanting to contribute even more to this dog club. Despite the compliments on the many volunteer projects we had worked on, many of the long-time, chain-smoking club veterans questioned this nomination saying it was premature, that I might need more time in the club.
On the night of the elections, in addition to the regular meeting goers, we saw 20 or more people come to vote who were identified to us as members. These were total strangers that never came to the meetings, never volunteered for the work, and never served on the board and were never seen by us even coming to club events. When the voting was finished it may be no surprise that my bid for a seat on the board was quickly voted down and a relatively unknown, at least to us, was voted into the board.
"I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." — Groucho Marx
It is that experience that forms my collective opinion of clubs. We learned that the inner circles in clubs are not welcoming to outsiders, even those who serve honorably and generously. A dog club is a human organization that is plagued with the many failings associated with our species.
A dog club codifies a set of rules that are directed towards the humans who form it and have little to do with the dogs the club was originally formed to protect and promote. In the end valuable time is wasted waging political war on human events and taking time away from the very object of our club's founding, our dogs.
"Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted." — Groucho Marx
So my message to you is to quit the clubs that are sucking the air out of the room and just spend that time with your dogs. Time spent with your canine companion will provide you with a no-holds barred experience that passes no judgments and delivers unconditional love which I'm sure you'll agree it is a much more enjoyable social experience!
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