2003 Articles

What Ever Happened To Good Breeding?

By: Peggy Wampold

I was taught that good manners are synonymous with good breeding. I am not talking about saying please and thank you, standing up when a lady comes into the room, writing thank you notes, etc. I am talking about consideration for others, respect for property, a concern of how one’s actions affects others, an appreciation for the rights and dignity of one’s fellow man.

What has happened to this sport? I live in Connecticut and feel very fortunate to be near the Eastern States Exposition grounds and grateful to the Springfield Kennel Club which allows other clubs to come into their area to hold their shows. For you who have never been to this show, it has to be one of the best in the country. Large indoor areas that are air-conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter with electric hookups and large indoor flushing facilities, many food concessions, paved parking lots with electric hook-ups, and they are easy to get to from anywhere in the Northeast. I feel privileged to be a member of a club that hosts two large shows at this facility.

This summer there were two clusters held on the Eastern States Exposition grounds and this is the point of my letter. At the July cluster two incidents occurred that could have cost us the use of this facility. Someone broke into the Mallary Building (which was not being rented by the hosts clubs). Yes, that is correct, they broke into the building. They proceeded to bathe and groom dogs and shower themselves in the bathroom. According to the Eastern States Personnel, they literally trashed the bathroom, clogged up the drains with hair, and left toilet paper and dog hair all over the floor. Is this an example of good breeding?

The second incident was far worse. Some took bolt cutters and cut the lock on the fenced in area with the high voltage power box, not once but twice. The second time they broke into this area they ripped the door of the power box off of its hinges. This area houses over 26,000 volts of raw electricity. According to the personnel of Eastern States Exposition they did a lot of damage in this area. Did this person demonstrate good breeding? What nerve! Some people may feel that if they are moving on the grounds for a five-day cluster it becomes their home, but did these people forget that they are still guests of the Big E (as Eastern States Exposition Grounds are commonly called), the show giving clubs and lest I forget the Springfield Kennel Club? I suspect if someone broke into their motor home and damaged it, they would have raised quite a hue and cry that this was not right and they and their space had been violated. The Eastern States Exposition hierarchy certainly felt this way and so did the dog clubs who host shows at this facility.

You ask why a bench show hearing wasn’t held? Simply, the show giving clubs did not learn of this vandalism until the Big E requested a special meeting with the show chairmen of the clubs, two weeks after the incidents and well past the time that a bench show hearing could have been called.

At the August cluster that followed the July cluster, The Big E also had a national car show the weekend of the cluster. Due to the above incidents and the car show, the Big E personnel were instructed by the management not to allow any of the motor homes to park around the Mallary or Young Buildings. If you could have been in the area (believe me, you would not have wanted to be) as the motor homes started coming in, your hair would have been standing on end and your ears scarlet red, especially if you had any children with you, because of the language some of the motor home people directed towards the Big E personnel who were only doing their jobs. Women with the mouths of gutter rats (I should not insult gutter rats like that) and men with vocabularies that would make a sailor blush. A letter was handed out to each motor home parked on the show grounds explaining the situation and asking the people to cooperate. The young lady who took these letters around was cursed and insulted by many of the motor home people. Were they demonstrating good breeding? Where do people get the idea that because they have a motor home and come to a show on a regular basis that they own a certain spot? Does owning a motor home give you the right to be arrogant, insulting and use profanity to a young lady asking you for cooperation with parking in a difficult situation. The Big E could have said no motor homes and believe me they are considering this option.

On the Thursday night of the cluster, there was a fight between the occupants of two motors homes that nearly became physical. Unfortunately, the other motor home occupants nearby, who observed this unsportsmanlike like behavior, did not report this in a timely manner so that a bench show hearing could be called. Good breeding? I think not.
A woman exhibitor walked her dog on a grassy area that has a sign requesting people to stay off the grass. One of the Big E personnel came over and asked her to get off of the grass. She not only used a great deal of profanity in answer to his request, she picked up the sign and threw it at him. He came in and reported the incident to the show chairman who walked all over the show grounds looking for this woman but was unable to find her. I would not say that she had good breeding, would you?

As I was leaving the show on Sunday afternoon, I was appalled. The buildings at the Big E had obvious urine stains as high up as my waist; there was feces everywhere on the grounds around the show building and in the parking lots. Remember there was another event going on at these grounds – a non-doggy event, a national car show. It was disgusting. It is not the dogs that are at fault, but the owners who allow this and do not clean up after their dogs. Where were these people raised in a septic tank? Do they think that their dog’s feces does not stink? Obviously good breeding in dogs does not have any effect on their owners.

Another motor home occupant put their dogs out in the ex-pen for a couple of hours after 11 PM every night and let the dogs bark. These people certainly were not being considerate and thoughtful of their neighbors who were trying to sleep. Good Breeding?

An exhibitor came to the show from Michigan and stayed at the Red Roof Inn, one of the last motel chains that are dog friendly. She set up her ex-pens on the sidewalk outside of her room. When asked by the motel staff to move her ex-pen off of the sidewalk for the convenience and safety of the other guests; she was rude and arrogant. Needless to say, when she finally did move her ex-pen, the sidewalk was a mess. Later a small white dog was seen running loose in this very busy commercial area. Motel staff, as well as staff of the neighboring restaurant, tried to catch the dog. Finally, other dog show exhibitors at the hotel were able to catch the dog and bring him to the hotel lobby. No one knew to whom this dog belonged to. After a period of time, the local dog officer as called to pick up the dog. Later that morning the hotel maintenance man noticed a dog similar to the one who had been loose in the ex-pen owned by this exhibitor. When he informed the woman of the loose dog and said that it looked “just like that one” she replied very rudely that it was not her dog. When the woman later realized that is was her dog, she was outraged when informed the dog had been given to the dog officer for safety’s sake. The dog officer kindly delivered the dog back to the woman at the motel. No appreciation for the fact that the dog was alive and well was given. It could have been killed on the busy road outside of the motel. Thank goodness for the kind-hearted folks who rescued this dog…that is good breeding. The day after the show, the president of the Springfield Kennel Club was told about this woman by a fellow exhibitor and she went over to the motel to talk to the manager. He was furious but relieved that someone from the dog show exhibited concern for the situation. Various staff members shared their encounters with this woman and the rude behavior they were subjected to. The motel manager showed her the room where this woman had stayed. The room was a mess and had a strong odor of urine. There was “something” stuck to the wall near the light switch, dog kibble, or? Needless to say, the entire room was a mess. The carpet would need to be thoroughly cleaned, walls washed, the room could not be used for several days. The president of Springfield Kennel Club was appalled. To top it all off, the manager shared warnings issued by the Town of Enfield with her about the filth in the field adjacent to the motel; mainly dog feces. She said the smell of this area was that of a cesspool. Consequently the manager does not want dogs back at his motel. The manager said that he hopes that his corporate office would soon tire of these warnings and allow the motel to stop accepting dogs. One of the saddest things discovered was that several of the housekeeping staff said that they are often left dog biscuits as a gratuity for cleaning the rooms of dog show people. What an insult…what poor breeding!

My club, South Windsor Kennel Club, is getting ready to host a show in November, which is a part of a four-day cluster and one the larger ones in the country. We do not want your entries if you cannot show respect to your fellow exhibitors, the show grounds and the few remaining hotels and motels that take dogs. If you are rude to the Big E and motel personnel, damage property and grounds, or use foul language we WILL have a bench show hearing! We are telling the personnel at the Big E and the motels to get the marker numbers and or names and report such incidents immediately. The club members are aware of the problems and will be alerted to this behavior, which is prejudicial to good sportsmanship and the sport of purebred dogs and we will take action immediately.

Lastly, we know who the people are who broke into the Mallary Building and trashed it, we know who broke into the high voltage area and damaged the box and lock. When the letter was passed out to the motor home people at the August cluster describing what had transpired at the July cluster, their friends nd neighbors came forward and told us who the culprits were. Unfortunately, it was too late for us to take action. We know who trashed the room at the Red Roof Inn. Remember the president of the Springfield Kennel Club went and talked to the manager of the motel.
I am president of South Windsor Kennel Club and my husband, David, is the show chairman of our November show. I want to ask the people who trashed the Mallary Building and who broke into the high voltage area, who trashed the Red Roof Inn and who walked a dog on the grass and threw the “Stay Off the Grass” sign to please not come to our show in November or any other shows at the Big E. We don’t need your entry and don’t want your presence. If you are a person who feels that you cannot control your temper and have to throw temper tantrums using foul language, then stay home. Instead of spending your money going to dog shows, invest in anger management therapy. We do not want to lose this facility or the motels because you have no respect for others. We have worked very hard to make our shows great, ones that exhibitors will enjoy and we do not want your selfish, inconsiderate ways to ruin it for everyone.

It is really a shame that a few selfish, self-centered, inconsiderate, egotistical, obnoxious, arrogant slobs can ruin the good reputation of “dog show people”. Unfortunately, that is what is being done, not just in Springfield, Massachusetts, but all over the country. If we are silent, our silence means consent. I urge everyone to speak up. If you see someone walk away after his or her dog has left his calling card, say something to the ignorant slob of an owner. If you see someone damaging the property at a show or at a hotel/motel, say something to the person or tell the show committee. Speak up! Being privileged with money and the ability to travel in a motor home does not give you a free ticket everywhere nor does it relieve you of the responsibilities of proper behavior and good breeding. If we allow the few previously described individuals to continue their destructive behavior, we won’t have show facilities and motels which will means we won’t have dog shows to go to and enjoy. The dog community’s silent majority must speak up in order to preserve our beloved sport and our reputations!!!!