We've Become a Sport of Exclusion - Can We Turn It Around?

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I recently had a light-bulb moment that might give other dog fanciers food for thought, especially the next time someone complains that there is no “new blood” coming into the sport and that the memberships of our all-breed and specialty clubs are “graying” and there’s no one left to take over these clubs. That’s all true, no doubt about that, but I’ve realized that it’s our own fault. We’ve become a sport of exclusion instead of inclusion, and not just as breeders. Several months ago when Rick Beauchamp wrote about excluding new people — thinking that our dogs are just too good for those novices and newbies — we got piles of letters and emails from dog people who agreed with him and congratulated him for saying what he said. But it isn’t just as breeders that we’ve become exclusionary.

I moved from Texas to California almost five years ago. I don’t go to dog shows every weekend, but I go once a month or so. By virtue of having been “in dogs” all my life and in Poodles for almost 20 years, and also having worked for Dogs in Review for about 10 years, I know many people at the dog shows — not nearly as many in California as in the south, where I grew up in the sport, but I always find quite a few people I know at every dog show I go to. I’m a proven, devoted, second-generation dog person. And yet, even having been in dogs all my life, and although I don’t think it’s intentional, no one in California has ever set out to purposely include me in the dog sport out here.

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