If you are new to the breed, one of the best ways to learn about the breed is to find a mentor. A good mentor is a person with experience and time in the breed. There is no set amount of time that the person needs to be involved but an experienced person has certainly had more than one dog or litter to their credit. The more experience, the better for you! If you have purchased a puppy, your breeder may be a good place to start. Thanks to Zoom and other technology platforms, your mentor can be on the other side of the country but you can still share video, pictures and good discussions. Discussion can include taped dog shows of Greyhounds from Westminster and other filmed shows, your own dog moving across the yard, dogs you have filmed at local shows or performance events. These materials including pictures from newsletter, magazines and books can be at the crux of discussing form and function. Mentors can help with such things as how to take care of a damaged tail, what foods to feed, how to train and housebreak, and even how to show your own dog. Mentors can also help you later down the line if you are looking for a good mate for your own dog. They know the pedigrees and the people and sometimes can smooth the way for a new person making that approach to an unknown stud dog owner.
Learning about about your breed should be a life- long process. There are always books to find and read, as well as more people in the breed to meet and learn from. Listen to what the small ringside groups are talking about. Ask questions and show an interest. Before you know it, you will be part of the discussion. This phase allows you to begin synthesizing information from multiple sources so that you can begin forming educated opinions of your own. Do some research from some of the sources provided in this column previously. Above all, keep questioning, finding new sources of information and keep learning.
If you are part of a low entry breed like greyhounds, there may not be experienced owners and breeders nearby. Use the GCA website for articles and our list of judge educators. This group of people are dedicated greyhound enthusiasts that have an interest in educating and likely to spend as much time as you can afford talking about one of their favorite topics! They will not turn you away.
Finally, when you are comfortable with your knowledge and can hold your own in a conversation about the breed, start looking for opportunities to share. It may be as simple as letting someone know where to pick up their armband or read the judging schedule. You may be able to help connect a newbie with someone you look up to or you may be ready to be a mentor on your own. AKC has a mentoring program that can match a mentee with a mentor. Both forms to sign up to be mentored or to be a mentor can be found here. https://www.akc.org/sports/conformation/mentor-program Don’t forget a mentor is one with experience and patience. Look what your mentor has done for you!
As I write this column, I thought I would dedicate it to my friend, mentor, and co-breeder, June Matarazzo, Willomoor Hounds who passed away September 1, 2021.