Saturday, June 25, 2011

How we grow

A simple comment at training today sparked the idea for this post.  A new member noted that he had inquired of a local trainer that he had taken a problem dog to, what she thought about schutzhund.  To her credit, she spoke positively of the sport and said there were two area clubs. She thought that they had been together at one time but that some people got mad and left.

This gave me pause.  It wasn't inaccurate, but required more explanation.  This is how the sport grows.  Schutzhund in this country began with only a couple clubs.  It expanded to groups of new enthusiasts.  Over time, groups broke away after disagreements in philosophy, training methods or simply personality.  Some times new clubs form when experienced members move to new areas, but more often than not,  they are created by people who seek a change.  To explain this by saying, "they got mad and left" leaves a huge gap in understanding and I don't feel it serves us well.

If we believe in a mentoring philosophy, the goal is to inspire and train people to replace you.  How, then, does it become an insult when this happens?  Children grow up and seek independence; so do the children of our parent clubs strike out on their own, finding their own way.  And, as with children, they don't always walk in your footsteps but you still love them.  Sadly, this isn't always the case in schutzhund. We need to change this.

We take pride in the pedigrees of our dogs; let us take pride in the pedigrees of our clubs!  Recognize that for most of us, we did not simply drop into existence with an immaculate conception of purpose... we learned from someone, and generally in some other club.  Wouldn't it be nice if we recognized our roots? My "roots" take me back O.G. Bierstadt, where I was mentored by Gordy Esselman in my early years. I will always be grateful the time he spent teaching me and introducing to me other folks in the sport.  For many years I remained a member and drove that distance for training, but ultimately I decided that something closer to home would be nice and felt prepared to start my own club.  O.G. Bierstadt will always be considered my parent club, and without their influence and introduction to this great sport, I wouldn't be writing this.

My own club has since given birth to one new club.  I know of many other people who have broken away from their clubs to either be independent or form their own clubs.  THIS IS HOW WE GROW!  If not for this, how many clubs would exist?  We expand because training changes, and perhaps a new group espouses a different philosophy that better suits them.  In schutzhund, one size does not fit all.  There are clubs who highly restrict members to only the most competitive.  Some clubs pay a helper to come in on a regular basis.  Some make training a social event, others not so much.  At times it is a matter of exposure.  When we start out, we don't realize there are other options.  Or we get a new dog who demands more/less/different guidance.  In some clubs, the training is very individual and in others the instruction is left to the member to seek outside of club training.  The bottom line is, there is something for everyone.  Find the club that suits your personality and your goals. The compromise becomes in how far you want to travel, and how much you spend.

If you are the "offspring" of a parent club, don't be a hater! Recognize that people can have differences and split off and it does not make one or the other "bad", only different.  Good members will support events of their parent club without using them as a forum to air grievances. Remember what your mother said? If you can't say something good, don't say it at all?  That applies to being the guest at the event of another club.  Please don't attend only to disparage the performances of the competitors and loudly announce how much better you could do, or how you could "fix" their problems.... if only they came to your club!

As a parent, take pride in the accomplishments of your "offspring" but recognize their work independent of your tutelage.  Isn't it your goal to have more people exposed to the sport?  To have more training available, and more choices?  I always encourage prospective members to check out other clubs and determine whether the training, the goal setting and the social environment fits them.  Why lose a schutzhund supporter simply because your own club wasn't the right meld for them?  People can leave a club and not "be mad". It can simply be time for them to grow their own wings.  There is no need to create turmoil where none needs exist, or drama for it's own sake.  Just say "it wasn't the right fit for me". 

This is how we grow.