Seven Secrets of Show Success

Part 7: Be Lucky

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How to make yourself lucky
Many people assume that luck is what happens to other people; their success must be the result of luck. Others just aren’t very lucky; they have a great dog but can’t seem to catch a break! There must be something going on here.

In fact, most people who are regarded as lucky in the dog ring aren’t lucky at all. They have common traits that made them successful. What are those secret traits?

• Set your goals … assess your dog, prepare for the ring by observing your competition. For most breeders and owners getting an AKC title is enough.

• Timing is everything. Consider if there is a big winner in your area. It may not make sense to initiate a campaign if you have to go up against this dog every weekend.

• As we’ve talked about in our columns, some owners decide to go for broke, closely following where fools rush in. That decision, in itself, will define and drive what follows.

• Successful dog owners, like other driven people, take the time to consider dogs, handlers, the way competition workshow much it will cost and what their tolerance for risk will be. Make-or-break questions pop up pretty fast. “Am I willing to spend $50,000 this year on advertising and not take a big vacation or add to my retirement?” If the answer begins with the thought that “Hell yes, I enjoy this and watching my dogs do well,” the rest is easy. Logic? Actually, there is a certain clarity of logic that occurs when you decide to “follow your joy” as the philosopher Joseph Campbell often used to challenge his students.

• It all starts with a plan and a personal vision. Asked why he endured years of toil and sacrifice to climb Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary answered with characteristic brevity, “Because it’s there!” Now that’s a deceptively simple plan!

• NBA legend Larry Bird was asked why he had dedicated his entire life to something as mundane as the game of basketball. His answer: “It’s the only thing I know how to do.” Maybe, maybe not; what is true is that it was the one thing he wanted to do!

Being lucky and succeeding with your dogs is a personal decision that only you and your family can make. Like anything else, half-baked commitments will produce half-baked results. Besides, it is, after all, about the dogs.

The end of summer has come once again, and Cathy and I scour the upcoming dog show schedules for the nuggets and gems where our newest batch of youngsters can shine. We’ve been doing this for nearly 25 years and we never tire of the newest challenge: waiting for the latest hot contenders to appear, weighing in on who will be the next “legend.”

While dogs, shows, judges, handlers, owners and the whims of the fancy come and go with chaos and irony, the cycle of the dogs and the competition we have invented for them is immutable. Dogs have influenced our lives for thousands of years and we have occasionally evolved as much as they have. They love us unconditionally, tolerate our foibles and mistakes, and yet, make us feel better than we did 10 minutes ago. Perhaps that’s the greatest luck of all.

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