AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - January 2004


Delighted to see a convenient parking spot at the crowded megastore, I hastened to it only to discover three shopping carts blocking the spot. Undaunted, I hopped out of my minivan and moved them to the nearby cart corral. (Pleased that I had done what someone else should have, I then parked and headed for the entrance with yet another misplaced cart.) As I maneuvered between cars, an old man in farm clothes sitting at the wheel of his vintage vehicle spoke to me in a gentle voice. Startled and a bit apprehensive, I wasn't quite sure what to do. But the lilt is down home accent made me stop as he softly confided, "At my Bible class, the preacher said, ' This week try speaking to seven strangers and watch the smile on their faces.' "

Sure enough, I was smiling. After exchanging a few words about the importance of our interest in others, I thanked him for choosing me as the recipient of his graciousness and warmly wished him well.

Enriched by this unexpected greeting with its thought-provoking message, I had a good feeling that still affects me.. Perhaps all of us need to be more aware of encouraging good feelings in others. This certainly can be applied at dog shows and performance events where we are ambassadors for our chosen breed. How we greet the public, our fellow exhibitors, and spectators leaves a lasting impression not only on the individuals involved but also on those observing. It is indeed sad when someone seeking to learn about the breed or to meet breeders feels brushed off. Readying for a dog event should include prepping our dogs and, equally important, our own frame of mind. Make an effort to stimulate fellowship and to encourage others. Were it not for such efforts in the past, our beautiful Berners might not exist.

It was just 100 years ago, in 1904, when two Swiss gentlemen were instrumental in arranging a class for Durrbachlers, as the breed was then called, at the International Swiss Kennel Club Dog Show in Bern. At this show the entry of six dogs and one bitch created a great deal of excitement and captivated dog fanciers as the breed made its entrance into the Swiss studbook.

In 1967, it was written in the 60th anniversary booklet published by the Swiss Club for Bernese Mountain Dogs that "breeders and admirers alike must work together for the perfection of the Bernese Mountain Dog, so that what has been accomplished in the past will be preserved for the future." Today, these words cannot be emphasized enough as the breed reaches new dimensions of popularity. The warmth and enthusiasm that prevailed at shows and performance events in years past are a part of the breed's heritage that must be preserved and continued. As was noted in the 1967 Swiss booklet, "The bonds of friendship forged through our dogs shall firmly unite us over all boundaries."

May a Berner brighten your new year, and your smile give someone a good feeling!

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875