Reprinted with permission of author, from Boxer Shorts, official newsletter of the Boxer Club of Canada Inc.
How do you earn the title "breeder"? I don't mean the term as it is used on a registration certificate or entry form. When I refer to someone as a breeder, I consider that person to be knowledgeable about their breed, but there are other qualities which I feel must also be present in order to qualify for the title.
First of all, you have to have paid your dues. By this I mean you have been around long enough to have experienced the ups and downs of the dog world-you've had some winners and some losers (and survived both!), you've raised a litter or two or three (and you've already planned the breedings for the next two generations), and you've experienced the heartache associated with the death of your favorite pet or the pain of losing one of your new puppies.
Secondly, you've learned the meaning of good sportsmanship. This is a learned art. You no longer pout at ringside, call the judge names, call the handler names, call the winner names. You begin to realize that 9 times out of 10 it is actually the dogs that are judged-not faces, not politics, not favors, just dogs. And you've learned how to win and lose gracefully. No gloating, please.
Third, you don't rain on anyone's parade. Why spoil someone's excitement over a win or an upcoming breeding or new litter? Everyone has different tastes and opinions and they are entitled to them, just as you are entitled to yours.
Fourth-you've learned to mind your own business and avoid hurtful gossip. I realize that it is human nature to be curious. I like a good story as well as the next person. But often people, in an effort to appear more knowledgeable, pass off second-hand stories and/or opinions as though they were the gospel truth. The next time you hear a story being repeated-consider the source and also consider the reputation of the person repeating it.
Which leads me into the most important aspect of qualifying as a breeder. Ethics. This is something which cannot be learned by reading a book or attending a class. The definition of ethics is "the moral quality of a course or action," the definition of ethic is "a principle of right or good conduct." Your ethics will determine the one thing that will cause you to succeed or fail in dogs-your reputation.
I am a firm believer in the "full revolution theory"-"What goes around comes around," and nowhere is this more true than in the dog world. If you treat others fairly-your fellow breeders, your puppy purchasers, the judges, your fellow exhibitors-you will very likely benefit from your fair behavior. And just the opposite is true-if you involve yourself in backbiting, gossip and poor sportsmanship, your reputation will suffer accordingly.
A reputation is earned-which type you choose to earn is up to you!