Tue, 09/22/2020 - 2:34pm

The Real Thing

A Lab puppy's toy preferences provide an apt metaphor

My 10-month-old Labrador girl loves sticks. Sticks that she finds in the yard, sticks that she breaks off of shrubs and, especially, sticks that are actually roots that she acquires when she digs them up in the yard. 

Nothing compares to the delight she displays when, after digging and pulling, digging and pulling, with one strong tug she finally brings up a root and proudly gallops around the yard with it in her mouth.

Meanwhile, my yard looks like the Camp Lejeune artillery range. 

I thought I was being clever recently when I bought her a new toy.  I would embrace her love of sticks, I reasoned, but divert her from the real thing and distract her from the destruction that ensues when she tries to acquire one.  So I bought her a nifty looking, tennis-ball-yellow, stick-shaped toy. Touted as “safe on teeth,” “easy to clean” and “floats on water,” I was confident that I had found a perfect solution. 

I was thrilled to see her reaction to it, and patted myself on the back when she bounced around the backyard with her new toy. Until the next day, when she didn’t. Instead, the quest for roots, and the requisite digging, resumed.

Seems Fig prefers actual sticks to some fake, false, fabricated stick.

I get it.

Last month, in an email to its “biggest” followers, AKC teased a “surprise” for September 1, and a “bonus” for the 1000 folks who acted “fast.” 

What could it be, we all wondered?

Had AKC’s Board finally made decisions reflecting its purported leadership role in the sport, acknowledging its obligations to its member clubs, and demonstrating its ability to take charge of and stabilize a crisis situation, in order to protect and preserve the future of our clubs and the sport?

Had AKC finally decided to mandate mask wearing at all indoor events, in acknowledgment of current public-health guidance, and to give its clubs the necessary tools, not to mention support, to make its events, volunteers and participants safe?

Had AKC finally determined that holding its annual dog show in Florida, which currently ranks third in the country for COVID-19 infections behind only California and Texas, would not be prudent or safe?

No such luck.

Instead, AKC’s tantalizing email reveal was that its new pet-product search platform, “Retrievist,” which was launched back in July, needed a way to boost traffic. Those of us hoping for more than “best practices” from AKC simply got more “best products.”   

Fig and her failed toy.


If you are an officer in a club hoping to hold an event, and need real financial support to address increased costs or cancellation-caused losses, please know that AKC is reporting an increase of more than $3 million in its net operating income this year so far.  But your club is unlikely to see any of that money.

If you are an exhibitor attending an event, and want real assurance that all those in attendance will wear masks, if not out of respect for one another, out of respect for AKC mandates, please know that clubs are on their own to craft and enforce such rules. But you can buy a mask on AKC’s website.

If you look forward to AKC’s annual show in Orlando but have real apprehension about attending a large indoor event in Florida, please know that AKC is going ahead with it. And, since the Orange County Convention Center is using its parking garage for a COVID-19 testing site, you can get tested while you show! 

It seems obvious why Fig keeps digging: She’s looking for the real thing.




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