Updated: Nov 30, 2020
I've talked before about the toxic aspects of the dog world such as gate keeping and call out culture. I dearly wish for my fellow purebred dog owners to understand that it's these issues driving people to rescues that don't vet or place their dogs responsibility, breeders who don't health test or take back their dogs, and breeders that falsely claim their dogs never shed and only need to be groomed once a year. Why do people go to them for dogs? Because those people are nice to them.
As purebred lovers and enthusiasts, we have to stop tearing each other down. So a breeder does a basic heart exam instead of echocardiogram. Is that not ideal in some breeds? Yes. But at least they're trying and gathering some data.
The one I've taken a lot of crap for (mostly from Border Collie and German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois people who all highly title their dogs) is that I've titled my dogs "wide" instead of "high" - meaning that I have a lot of entry level titles on my dogs which leads to a longer title string rather than titling my dogs to advanced levels in one or two sports and having a shorter title string. Yes, that's right, I suspect that sounds mildly crazy to people who aren't in the dog sport world. I have been heavily criticized for titling my dogs extensively because it's all just "easy" stuff. Or, people have written my dogs off because they're a rare breed so it's okay I only have Novice titles.
With these statements comes the assumptions that the only reason you would get a bunch of Novice titles is to look impressive and that any dog can get easy titles. And this is so snobby to me it makes me want to throw things. When Ash the Saluki earned his Trick Dog Novice title I legitimately celebrated maybe as much as when he took his Best in Field. This is a dog that is a talented runner who has never had any desire to work with me so that fact that he could do behaviors on cue, under pressure, and focus for the length of the testing was huge for him.
Honestly, even if a border collie breeder breeds a dog with their Canine Good Citizen, a Trick Dog Novice title, a Rally Novice title, and their Agility Course Test 1 that doesn't bother me. Yes, border collies are capable of a huge number of high level titles and a variety of Championships, but not every border collie you breed has to be triple Champion. But breeders are breeding for a variety of purposes and honestly the triple Champion border collie isn't going to be a good choice for a pet home for the average owner.
So who is meeting the pet home need? Some of the performance breeders have dogs that aren't performance prospects that go to pet homes. Some of the show breeders have puppies that aren't show prospects that go to show homes. Some of the working breeders have dogs that lack the drive that become pets. But that's honestly a very small demographic. So instead of encouraging breeders that are shooting for pet level obedience and trying to prove that with some titles we often deride them for trying to puff themselves up and look impressive. And that's when potential new owners turn to breeders who don't title, who don't health test, etc because there's no place for the pet home niche.
Another reason why a dog might be titled wide instead of high is the owner and dog are looking to see what their dog enjoys most. I'm not in dog sports for the titles though they're a cool bonus. I'm in then because my dogs enjoy them. Because I'm building my bond with my dogs. And there's a whole lot of dog sports that build a dog's confidence and focus and coordination and gives them a non-destructive outlet. And it takes a lot of time to earn titles when you're playing in a wide variety of sports in a wide variety of venues. Just because my dogs currently only have Novice titles doesn't mean that we won't pursue higher level titles and it doesn't mean they're not capable of those higher levels either.
Honestly, stop snuffing out people's excitement about what they're doing with their dogs. Just stop it. You taught your dog a new trick? Awesome! You went on a 3 mile hike with you dog? Well done! You earned your MACH12? That's really impressive! Just go out and do things with your dogs whether you have a pet dog you keep enriched or the next Agility Champion of the Milky Way.
And yes, Anubi is judging you and telling you to stay in your own lane.