Put Down the Fiddles
So, yesterday, I posted a rant that I assumed would be read by the usual handful of people that I see ’round these parts, and went about my day. I mean, my previous top number of views for a day was just a dog hair over 700, and that involved lots of cute puppy pictures. I in no way thought my post would be viewed over 17 thousand times.
I don’t know what all my little blog post did once it went out into the big wide world. I imagine it sparked debate over The Outfit; my hope is that it also prompted some discussion about Dog Show Culture, social media, and the intersection of the two.
I’d like to say that, if I had known how far my post would reach, I would have been a little less sweary, but I made a New Year’s resolution to be myself, so no. What I WOULD have done, however, is to make sure that the point to my rant was a little more clear.
My point wasn’t to argue whether a particular outfit was appropriate attire for Westminster; my point was that social media is a powerful, far-reaching platform (to which my site stats can attest), and we in this hobby need to give some serious thought toward how we use it. I understand that “people being dicks on the internet” is not exactly a new thing. Some people make careers out of it; teenagers are particularly noteworthy for the behavior.
But no one is trying to abolish their existence. (I mean, I assume. Pretty sure I would have gotten the newsletter…) Dog breeders, on the other hand, are assailed daily by media spectacles surrounding puppy mills, anti-breeder legislation, charges of contributing to pet overpopulation, and accusations that our avocation is tantamount to murder. In the war for public opinion, we are losing. Badly.
Do you know how many Tweets PETA has made over the last few days using the WKCDogShow hashtag? No, seriously; does anyone have a number? Because I lost count. Yes, their Tweets are intentionally inflammatory. Yes, their words are misinformation at best, malicious libel at their worst. You know that. I know that. But John Q. Public doesn’t know that!
Worse, while the anti-breeder lobby barrels on like the well-oiled, well-funded machine that it is, we in the dog fancy spend the bulk of our bandwidth debating health testing, proper gait, coat length, color allowances, how much white is too much white… the list goes on and on and on. Rome is burning, people, and this is what we’re fiddling with.
With its longevity and its dedication to pomp and circumstance, the Westminster Kennel Club shines a brief, annual spotlight on this crazy hobby that we love, or love to hate, or hate to love, and in that brief time we, the insiders, have the opportunity to speak directly to a public who only hears from our enemies the other 363 days per year. It’s an opportunity to highlight the great work done by our breed club rescues, or the strides forward we have made in improving our breeding stock through available genetic testing, or all of the blood, sweat and tears that we breeders put into producing puppies who are healthy, intelligent, well-socialized creatures who are destined to be the best companion animals they can be.
Instead, we’re making fun of people’s clothes.
So, for WKC 2016, I’m going to pledge to do a week of articles about all of the wonderful things that we breeders do. And I’d like to challenge all of you to do the same. Let’s show the world our best, not our worst. Who’s with me? It’s time to put down the fiddle.
And grab a fire extinguisher.