Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Murky Waters" - Dog Club Politics

I had a mentor once who advised "If you don't like the way somebody does things, just take good notes then start your own enterprise where you can do things better."  But I don't want to start my own dog club.  LCCOC is the only AKC dog club in town and there can be no other within 100 miles (by AKC rules).  I just want to be included, have a voice, in the club I'm in.  Every member with a voice should have a voice, especially after 2.5 years, taking on numerous duties, and helping out the club every which way I can.

Sometimes it seems like swimming thru murky waters, trying to figure out how clubs (all clubs, too) work, all the personalities and politics involved. The simplest things seem so difficult. Getting information. Understanding policies. Fitting in. Wondering why an offer to volunteer is not responded to. A problem-solving suggestion is ignored. One person gets away with extreme rudeness, another is considered rude for being enthusiastic. Problems the entrenched leadership can't seem to solve, they assume there is no solution, meanwhile turning a deaf ear to those who are offering a solution. It makes me sad, mad, frustrated, left out. Democracy is just a dream, not a real reflection of the dynastic manner that people in charge operate.

Can I tell you how many people I've run across who once belonged to LCCOC but quit with a really bad taste in their mouths?  Three so far, each complaining of the stuffy, elitist leadership, rude instructors who treat you stupid for asking questions, giving some teams long turns in class while the next team is hurried along and dismissed. Yet these offenses go unpunished, and offenders seem to have an iron grip on the reins of the club.  The way leadership positions are so jealously guarded, you'd think they were all high paying jobs instead of an all volunteer effort.  You'd think they would be cultivating volunteers and making the jobs lighter on themselves.  But not so.

The AKC has successfully gotten past a bit of dog snobby where only purebred dogs deserve to live, love, show, compete when, as of this year (2010), they began registering mixed breeds as bona fide AKC Companion Dogs and accepting mixed breeds into obedience and agility competitions.  Waahoo, this is a milestone!  I've heard it said, though, they did this only because their revenues are falling off.  For whatever reasons, noble or financial, it has happened and a lot of dogs are very happy about it.  The democratic world has moved another teensy step forward.  Snobbery took a blow.

Maybe desparation is what it takes to knock down barriers and move forward.  Then again, some people would rather go down with their pride intact and take everyone with them, than accept any kind of change, as if change implied that they were somehow doing things wrong.  Don't they get the "flexibility",  "growing with experience", "change with the times", "team effort" thing? It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by Thomas Paine:

"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine.  He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of ever changing it."

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part 1, 1790

Reason has been in an upward struggle for a very, very, very long time.  Also, humility, cooperation, inclusiveness, cordiality.

So what brought on all my angst today?  Actually, it's an ongoing thing, but I've made a vow not to turn this blog into a bitch session against any dog person in particular.  I'm practicing the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything.", and the other adage "telling the truth usually gets you in trouble", but believe me, sometimes it's a serious exercise in restraint and I struggle with it.

At the very least, I feel I must encode this page with something to remind myself of who and what is bothering me so here I record a few barbed statements that one person has thrown at me just so far this year -- "none of your business", and "as usual, you're trying to take over", "nobody orders me around", "tell your dog to shut up", "I don't need your help", "as long as you do exactly what I say, I won't throw you out", and the worst "Your dog will never be an agility dog!"  There's a slew more of these, and more than one person delivering either cruel words or dour facial looks and hostile body language, but these are enough to catch my drift.

I just got a fortune cookie.  It said:

"It's never crowded along the extra mile."

Humm, I wonder what that means in relation to this situation?  Any ideas?  Leave me a comment.

No comments: