This past weekend has been a reminder that I am raising my kids in a sport. They are learning about life through a type of competition. I stood and had a conversation with a reputable figure in our breed and she commented on my parenting, as well as the passion that the girls show in the sport. They want to be there, they aren't doing this for mom. They are largely among adults who take this sport and love of the breed very seriously. They have been forced to act in a mature manner as they play an adult's game. Along the way they are making friendships with other juniors that will last them a lifetime. They will learn how to win, how to lose, and how best to play the game. More than anything, I want to teach my children to play with honor. No matter what sport or hobby your family is involved in, there are opportunities to learn good and bad lessons. I can speak at my kids all I want, but they will follow what I do, not what I say. The best I can do for them is to be an example.
These are the lessons I hope they learn:
Hard work in training your dog will reap the best results. It takes effort and dedication to be successful. It takes a sacrifice of time and money to follow your passion. If it is truly your passion, you won't mind what you give up.
You will lose. Lose with grace. Congratulate the winners and be truly happy for their success. We are all there for the same reason, because we hope to win. Pouting because you didn't win won't change the results. It's best to rejoice with the winner and hopefully they will celebrate with you when you get the chance to experience the joy of winning.
You will win. Win with dignity. Thank the judge and happily accept congratulations. Remember that each win is truly an honor and a celebration of your hard work and effort.
Play with honor. Follow the rules and hold your head high that you are playing an honest game. As long as you know you are honorable, you have nothing to worry about. When people attack or question your ethics, you can walk away knowing you are right, and they were wrong to question you.
Politics are a part of every sport and game. The strategy of bad-mouthing, back-stabbing, and playing the two-faced friend never has a good ending. It's better to avoid it all. The immaturity of high school comes back into play too often in life. I'd rather win or lose knowing that it was based on the merit of my dog, not because of who I am, who I know, or any tricks I played.
No matter how much you love the sport, it is never worth a hit to your integrity. Always keep in perspective what is truly important in life: your self worth, your faith and values, your family and friends. Play the game and take the lessons it offers, but never let the game play you. Always remember who you are and why you are there.
The dog you came and leave with is valuable because of the love you share, not because of ribbons won. The dog didn't choose this sport nor ask to go to the show. Cherish them and take care of their every need as you enjoy the time you spend with them.
Authority figures are to be respected. Judges, coaches, and leaders have earned the right to our respect. We must follow their instructions and speak to them with the respect they deserve.
It is better to listen than to speak. Wisdom comes from experience and from the words of those with experience. Knowledge will come quicker when you accept advice, rather than trying to figure everything out on your own. Humbly acknowledge that you don't know everything, that regardless of what you already know, there is always more to learn.
These are the lessons I hope my children learn in life. Dog shows are the venue I have to teach these life lessons. I pray that I can be a positive example to my kids. I know they have a love for the sport and could continue for a long time. I would love to continue showing with my adult children. Along our journey, as they move toward the teen years and adulthood, I hope they become young women and a young gentleman that I can be proud of. I hope they become positive influences not only in this sport, but in life.
I will raise my children, not just watch them grow up. I will guide them with instruction and with discipline. I will guide them with love as we enjoy this adventure in dog shows.