YOU DARE STEAL MY JOY
by Connie Cleveland
On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband
asked me how I wanted to celebrate. I asked that we
take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother and
one of the greatest of all the great southern
ladies, out to dinner with us.
At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a
diamond ring. It was gorgeous and I was speechless,
but even as I thanked him, I worried about the
expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he
knew that the next line belonged to my grandmother,
my husband excused himself from the table. He
was barely out of sight when she reached across the
table and grabbed me by the shoulder, "I know what
you're thinking, I know you think he couldn't afford
it and it's too extravagant. I don't care if he had
to put a second mortgage on the house to buy it,
don't you steal his joy! It's beautiful. Accept it
as the token of his love that it is and say nothing
about how he shouldn't have bought it for you." Then
she repeated, "Don't you dare steal his joy!"
That was the end of the conversation. She sat back
in her seat, smiled at my returning husband, and we
had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my
reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come
off my finger, but most importantly, I learned a
wonderfully important lesson, never to steal
another man's joy.
Are you a joy stealer?
"You know if my dog hadn't gone down on the sit, I
would have won the class",
said, unfeelingly, to the winner.
"I sure didn't think your dog worked that high a
"I can't believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup
and her dog would beat you."
"I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great
performance, " said to the winner.
"Isn't that judge an idiot? I can't believe the dogs
he put up!" said to the winner.
"Boy, aren't you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn't here
today or you might not have won."
"You passed that Master test because the water blind
was so easy."
"That was the stupidest set of water marks I've ever
seen. No trial should end that easily,"
said to the winner.
Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors?
Do you tell them their goals are too lofty and their
dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful or
trying to keep them from accomplishing something
that you never had the ability or perseverance to do
yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal joy by
destroying the dream.
"No Basset Hounds get UD's," said to the owner of
the Bassett in Utility class.
"I've never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts
said to the owner of the Rottweiler practicing
fronts and finishes.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and
a Master Hunter? Do you know how few people have
ever done it?" said to the first time dog owner
setting out to do both.
When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field
championships and 65 OTCH points including all the
necessary first places, someone had the guts to come
up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say,
"No dog will ever be a field champion and an
obedience champion." My jaw drops when I think about
it. Isn't it unfortunate that I remember this
attempt at stealing my joy much more than I remember
all the cards and letters and congratulations I
received when those last 35 points were earned?
If you are willing to destroy someone's dream,
perhaps you don't realize that it is the JOY of
pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated,
not just reaching the accomplishment.
My husband and I travel and compete together. I
remember an event, early in our relationship when I
watched his Doberman fail articles. "Darn it, " I
said, as he came out of the ring," she didn't even
try to find the right one!" "Oh", he replied, "but,
weren't her heeling and signals wonderful?"
Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was
celebrating the improvement on the exercise that had
been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the
failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have
learned that the best response to a questionable
performance, "What did you think?" That way, if the
handler is excited about some aspect of the
performance, you can share that excitement. If the
handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can
share the disappointment. You are safely removed
from being a joy stealer.
I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your
dogs in the coming year. Undoubtedly there will be
moments of disappointment as you venture through the
landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks.
Remember that the joy of the journey is worth the
difficulties along the way and don't let anyone
steal that joy. Guard it well and at he end of the
road you can own it and revel in it with all the
other memories of the trip.
Be supportive of your co-exhibitors.
Don't "Steal" their joy.