Success or Rationalization for Losing

“ Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; the trying,
not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we
can be. ” 
Zig Ziglar

I saw this quote on another Kerry Blue website, one beloning to a breeder that is new to the breed.  She had a lot of success with a dog she bought from a kennel in Europe.  This dog was sometimes shown by her, sometime one of the better known terrier handlers.  In spite of her unabashed bragging about the wins of this dog, and being a tireless cheerleader for any of his progeny who happen to pick up a few wins, I really like and respect this person.  You can’t blame her for swelling with pride.  This dog did a lot of winning and has been used for breeding fairly extensively by others in spite of her demands for various health clearances on the bitch.  His real claim to fame was his great temperament.  He looked like a dog that might like a good fight, but much to the chagrin of his professional handler, it was just to the contrary.  We don’t think temperament is the most important thing in a show dog, but you have to respect this owner for living true to her values.  

It did not escape my notice that her new quotaiton, cited above, is wholely different from the one she’s had when her dog was out there winning.  During that time she and the dog were subjects of much derision.  Her quote at that time focused on being yourself no matter what anybody else thought.  Different times, different definitions of success.  

I like this quote, however.  It really defines the dog show game pretty well.  The way the AKC allows shows to go and judges to judge, you have to have a thick skin and a thick head.  You need these things to withstand the constant running your head into the wall every time you show.  Trusting a judge, who may have a different agenda, to point to your very nice dog over somebody’s else’s dog is too much for many week in and week out.  If you are honest and can see the faults in your dog, then you have to seek a different way to measure success.  If you are honest and see your dog’s faults and still get fewer wins than you think you should, you are even more frustrated.  It’s not like you can run faster, jump higher or hit the ball father in order to be successful.  There is so little you can control.  You can make yourself a better handler or a better groomer, and still get nothing more for your trouble.    

With Peyton, our Bedlington, we have had to do that, and just now with our specials bitch in her last year of showing.  The Bedlington and I wrestle for control and to find our rhythm.  He is a very nice dog, totally different from the others in the same ring.  Our lack of teamwork make us easy to overlook and our lack of grooming skill makes it even easier.  Still when I look at him I see a fitting representation of the standard.  He and I are plagued by intangibles revealed too clearly in the ring.  Should having a nicely made dog be enough to stand out.  How dare we expect to win when we are so new to this breed.  In time, and since he is our only one, we will come to find some measure of success.  Right now that means doing the best we can with what we have and rejoicing when he and I seem to fit together and shine just a little, for our brief time under a judge’s scrutiny, 

As for our specials bitch, success is measured differently.  We have been in the breed longe than some of our competitors have been alive.  We have weathered the ebb and flow of competition and as the quote says, finding success in the doing, not the getting.  But we are at a point when we believe this bitch should be doing more than she is.  Success should be measured in how much we win with her and in what kind of an entry.  We see her faults, but also see the faults of others and are amazed how far our breed has changed over the years we’ve been in the ring.  

Today we received good news that she had won a Group 2 at a 500 dog show in Texas.  Funny how quickly your mood can shift.  Where only last night we had talked about putting her away, we now talk about how nice this win is and how maybe we were premature.  In a sport like ours, where visible success is determined by the finger point of somebody who doesn’t share your life-long love of the breed, you must indeed measure your success by the trying, not the triumph, doing the best with what you have.  This and your honest opinion of your dog are really all any of us have at the end of the weekend.  There will always be other shows, other wins and many other loses.  Striving to be the best you can be and reach the highest that is in all of us is all you can control.  

Maybe this Zig Ziegler knew what he was talking about.  Maybe he was a winner not mearly a loser trying to rationalize why he wasn’t really a loser even when his success, in the eyes of others, had already slipped away.  Maybe this simple statement is the healthiest and most sane way to view competion in dogs.  Maybe my friend and fellow breeder is on to something.   


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