Welcome to Pam's Handling Classes

Are You A Good Sport??

A sportsman is defined as 'one who plays fair and can lose without complaint and win without gloating'. To be sporting is to be 'considerate, sportsmanlike and gentlemanly'. In this game that we call dogs, the art of being a true and decent sportsman can be a rare commodity. The creatures in our care and around which our sport revolves frequently become the pawns in a more serious and personal quest for self fulfillment. Who amongst us has not felt the pangs of disappointment as our exhibit is passed over for another. In annoyance, we often lash out at our fellow competitors, and friendships are reduced to mere memories with bitter overtones that obscure the senses creating antagonism and even hate mongering. Are we as humans incapable of putting the emphasis for respect squarely on our associates and friends or does each and every win become the focus for our own self worth. Why do the confidants that we create in this hobby\/business suddenly become less important to us because of a win or loss. The exhibition of show dogs , perhaps more than any other sport, carries a very human element. That is, there is no stopwatch to beat, no finish line to cross, no time to conquer. A win or loss is at the discretion and single handed gesture of one other person. A real and living human like ourselves. This solitary individual can and will determine our success or failure when we enter the ring. The judges' appraisal of our exhibit and his/her ultimate decision are the factors that allow us to revel in victory or wallow in defeat.

Perhaps this is the very reason why our sport creates such a shocking collection of poor sportsmen and intensely volatile individuals. Another human being is directly responsible for what we perceive to be our success. Once the proper conditioning and beautifying of the dog is done, there is nothing left but to have that person select the animal that he/she feels is best in the ring on a given day. No race to run, no time to beat, just a flash of the wrist as the winner is chosen. The mechanics of the judging system requires no accountability nor reason be given for the choice of a winner and indeed judges are discouraged from undue conversation in the ring. The anger surges, tempers flare, and sharp words are exchanged as a subjective decision gives rise to a nasty altercation in which the key players are adults. A loss is often misconstrued as a personal vendetta while the winner basks in the belief that he is indeed the fairest of them all. Friendships falter because somehow a win by one and a loss by another has honed the sharp edged knife of jealousy and mean spiritedness, which threatens the existence of solid interpersonal relationships. Meanwhile the dogs are just happy with a pat and an ear rub. They are but a small part of the bigger picture which consists of inflated egos and the intense human desire to win, as somehow this justifies existence. Winning and losing with distinction and exhibiting with integrity and graciousness is no easy task. But it is made simpler if we fervently remember that our friendships are valuable and loyalty to our sporting comrades is a true test of honour.








 Our Friend

We lost a wonderful friend today.
Was he very old, or have an illness, you say.
I slowly shake my head and feel the stinging tears.
He wasn’t here for too many years.

He was a gentleman, this friend of ours.
Really only disliking cold rain showers.
We would talk in the sun, him leaning on me
He watching so intently, trying to see.

Was he envisioning the things of which I spoke.
The grass and the flowers, the trees that broke.
On a day when the wind shuffled the limbs,
And we wandered the yard, he was so full of vim.

Me picking up sticks while he tried to help,
That mischievous face just making me melt.
Chasing and running, please put that down
This big boy could be such a crazy silly clown.

Time moved on as it always does
But not long enough for surely because.
Every friend should live on and grace our days
Never leaving us alone to remember the ways.

How we cherished the times spent happy and free
Wishing that forever was all there would be.
The end came too soon for our fine gentle friend
And all through the sadness, he could not mend.

The choice was clear, and was made with conviction,
Because we owed him that last benediction.
To leave us in comfort, pain free and calm
Friends are forever, as we wait for the dawn.

A new day might find him in our memories so clear.
That friend we held onto and thought so dear.
He was strength and wisdom, thoughtfulness and truth
This beautiful soul, how we wish for his youth.








Goodbye

The most unthinkable and devastating event has happened. Unthinkable because the preparedness is never evident and devastating because the emptiness left in our hearts will not soon be filled. A beloved pet and family member has lost her life to the ultimate needle. The torment has ended and the agonizing days and nights are now over. But during the week that we observed the decline and deterioration of this once vibrant and precocious little dog, one thing was painfully clear. We were losing our friend to an insidious disease process that was intangible and unseen. And yet it gradually stole our companion and robbed her of the ability to enjoy good health and happy times. Somehow this monster crept into our home and furtively and skillfully resolved that the elderly 25 pound dog would be a probable candidate for misery and affliction. As the hours and days ticked by, our dear little Frenchie lost her vision and her surefootedness and equilibrium were compromised. Play times ended and the golden hours of a senior canine became a time of despair and fear as she retreated from us. The apprehension and panic produced by the sudden loss of vision was dramatic but we were able to reliably and carefully assist her with stairs and dark areas.

How does one mark the time that these exceptional treasures grace our lives? The puppy months glide into adult years and in a brief second, or so it seems, our friends have slipped gracefully into that twilight time of graying muzzles, long sleeps and meanderings through the yard. If we are truly blessed these old souls are happy and content, a bit slower moving, but wandering about their domain with the elegance and charm of a respected senior. For so many of us who have invested years in the canine world of shows, breeding, and training, the final journey to the vet is neither new nor unique. But each time it is filled with the same misgivings and concern. Is the time right for the final injection? Should we or could we wait just one more day? And that really dreadful feeling of being torn between what is right and essential and the distinct hideous idea that we are sacrificing our pet. Thankfully, we as dog owners are afforded the opportunity to make those decisions, however difficult, that will relieve our dearest canines of unnecessary pain and distress. We can deliver them to another place where they no longer suffer.

If there is a doggy heaven, I am certain that our little Frenchie is there. She came to us at a mere few months old and quickly and assuredly wiggled her way into our lives and became the resident queen of her domain. The Bullmastiffs were no match for this self assured girl and mostly they spent their time, in their big way, trying to win the favor of this small fawn dynamo. Equally content on our bed or in her crate, she neither whined, barked excessively or was demanding. Dare I say that she was a near perfect dog??? Her show years were marked with BPIS wins, group placements and championships in two countries. And yet all of that has been mostly forgotten in favor of the sweeter side of her life which involved plenty of stuffie toys, nylabones, and the gentle nuzzlings of a hefty red Bullmastiff at the kitchen landing each day. That big boy thought she was so special.

Now they are both gone. Perhaps they are together in some extraordinary place where the sun always shines, the water is pure and they will be forever at peace. Young dogs get old, time changes, and each delightful canine leaves an indelible impression on our souls. When they depart this earth, their spirits continue to soar about us, a constant reminder of their beauty and splendor. Death must come and we are burdened with the finality of putting away special toys, beds, and crates. In my garden there is the stained glass likeness of this very special Frenchie embedded in stone, in my album are her pictures and in my heart are the beautiful memories.

“My dogs……..I rejoice in their lives, I grieve at their death. They have enriched my world”.








A SOLDIER’S STEP
Pam McClintock


 
When a soldier’s step falls silent, does his country weep for him.
When he walked into this bloody war, did he think the end so grim.
His family grieves so bitterly, his comrades rage and feel the sorrow,
They look to his accustomed place in line but he won’t be there tomorrow.
 
This hero started his young life eagerly wanting to serve.
He hefted his rifle, pack and helmet and more than a little nerve.
He left behind a mother and a father bravely caring,
Sisters, brothers, friends, and wives who thought his life so daring.
 
The land that he was sent to carried evil on the wind,
The mountains harboured secrets, shrouded with a cloak of sin.
The ground was raw and ugly with rocks strewn round about.
This forbidding, sandy, barren place must have filled his mind with doubt.
 
But he moved to his appointed rounds, his actions measured and sure,
His mastery of the soldier’s work, so swift, and in a blur,
A base camp was established and a home of sorts made ready,
And in a while the force grew strong, troops prepared and steady.
 
The days were long and hot and dusty, the enemy showed their faces.
Our brave lads attacked the hill leaving no more traces.
Of the wicked terror that crawled and lurked in the darkness of the caves,
And back at home the leaders were impressed and wildly raved.
 
These fine young men had proven they were soldiers through and through.
Presidents, prime ministers sang their praises, loud and true.
Canada’s noble servicemen marched bravely into war,
But if one of them stops marching, will you notice ever more.
 
Can you feel the pride, does your heart swell, as their bodies return to our soil.
Did you remember they sacrificed to protect, in a troubled land they toiled.
Could you say a prayer for the families who suffer such aching pain,
Their soldier boy won’t march again, his bootsteps are soundless but not in vain.
 
When a soldier’s step falls silent, will you mourn for him a while.
He wanted just a chance to help and did it with a smile.
His mission was to conquer and assist his allied friends,
When a soldier’s step falls silent, his contribution does not end.
 
A maroon beret, a coat of green, a soldier so vital and strong
He advanced into the conflict and somehow it went wrong.
Remember him and all the ones who fought for our land and won,
And if his step be silenced, he is a hero and a much loved son.