IMO - Social Media verses Staffordshire Bull Terriers
I have a love hate relationship with Social Media. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my grandfather used to talk about the way it used to be and I would try to explain how much better it is today. Anyway, I am going to try to virtue judge social media in regards to our breed.
Social media has made many people who I have looked up to and respected and in some cases disrespected more human and approachable. Prior to social media they were entirely unreachable because I would have to fly to the UK numerous times in order to develop the type of fireside conversations that would impact how I move forward. One person who I thought was sharp and unfriendly the day he judged here in 2009 GWTA is actually very approachable and willing to share, thanks to social media.
I also see over the years more breed type in the rings in the U.S. Are we looking at and "oohing and ahhing" over bad specimens to the UK, perhaps, but more people over here are having a better idea of breed type than before. Now we not only have the "official standard" but a host of examples of good and bad images of dogs to look at. We can actually see the winners and the affixes and sometimes videos. We can discuss virtues and faults to our hearts content outside of our own American Motley Crew. We can discuss with the likes of you current problems facing the breed instead of operating from a vacuum using old photos in a book with few to no proper mentors. You all who have come before us underestimate the power of your word to many people who lurk in the back ground. You underestimate the good effect you have had on us. I have been to the UK and Holland and the one thing I noticed was a much more consistent dog in the rings. I am now seeing more and more breed type in our rings. Years ago, a judge told me after judging 33 American Champions there was a lot of great movers in the ring but few actually looked like a Stafford. This was not a breed specialist he was an Italian judge. Obviously in fixing one thing we may over correct and need to fix other things but I see social media opening our eyes to a world class dog. I bet that Italian would have a different opinion today.
I see social media has also opened many eyes towards the importance of health. Some will never care or get it. But, many more people today use “health tested” when discussing breeders than ever before. Our dogs around the world in Rescue are being highlighted more than ever.
It has been complained at our shows where we invite breed specialists that their time is monopolized by a few, either close friends or "certain" enthusiasts who latch on never to leave your side like a puppy, so not everyone has a chance for a quality face to face. Everyone kindles face to face relationships different, some people are bold and extroverted and others are more shy and retiring and work slowly. Dog shows are a great place to hang out and get to know each other on the surface but not the best place for conversations about saving the Stafford. I have been to a few Q&As but to be perfectly honest I read your writing far better than I can hear and understand your word in a large room with people creating back ground noise. The questions all too often are repeated over and over from show to show and more tailored to the beginner than people who are pushing to higher levels. Social media provides a better venue to learn what each of you have to say about where you have been and where you are going. There will always be instant experts face to face and here in social media and they are all seen thru eventually. The proof is in the pudding. If you choose to follow an instant expert and get duped, just know that it has been happening since the beginning of time. “Let the Buyer Beware” is a very old saying. Be careful what you buy into here or in person.
To me the value of social media on the world Stafford stage is huge. Do not underestimate the power of your written word. I for one am all ears. If you write from a sincere passionate heart and your real knowledge and experience (not imagined) I personally appreciate it.
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