A Sea Change

Last Saturday I traveled to New York City for a black tie event. It was a chance to put something on my feet other than insulated barn boots, and to wear something sparkly. It was a chance to have dinner in the glorious Gotham Hall.



But, most importantly, it was a chance to keep my good friend, Karen Pryor, company at the Show Dogs of the Year Award Banquet, where she was being honored with a Trainer of the Year Award.

I’ve never been into the “dog fancy” and I have issues with the AKC and breeders who focus on looks to such extremes that dogs suffer from genetic predispositions to diseases and have physical issues as basic as being unable to breathe freely. I didn’t go to the awards because I am enthralled with that world of groomed and fluffed dogs. I went because whenever I have a chance to travel and spend time with Karen, I do.

This is a competitive group of people. The dogs that won year-end awards have been campaigned on an intense schedule. Behind each dog is a team of people – owners, handler, groomer, and more. I’ve heard stories of the politics of the show ring and the cutthroat culture of dog shows. Which is why it was so surprising to me how the evening unfolded.

Accepting an award, a man who has been showing dogs his entire adult life said, “This is the best year I’ve ever had, and not because of the wins. There has been a camaraderie this year I’ve not experienced before.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist.) As each winner spoke at the podium, the same thing was said over and over. That there was a new sense of community, and because of that good will, that there was a joy in the competition. Profuse and genuine thanks were given, not just to their own team, but to all of the people that they competed with and interacted with on the show circuit.

Sitting at our table was the owner of the Obedience Dog of the Year. I’ve heard about how tough those trainers can be, and I’ve heard about how severe their methods can be. I confess to being jaded and wary. Yet there was this lovely woman – Victory Hulett (what an apt name!) who (in promotional materials) says that she gets results with motivational play. Seated with Victory, was her husband, who was beaming with pride. I talked with them about their relationship and his part in her success. I came away thinking that Reign, their brilliant Border Collie, succeeded because his world was filled with love.

Was it a coincidence, then, that the Trainer of the Year was someone who’s message for the last thirty years has been one of positive interactions between species? Of letting go of dominance and instead working to the yes, to the willing, to the cooperative? A sea change is defined as a broad transformation. I was witness to it last Saturday night.

karen Pryor

The next day Karen introduced me to one of her favorite places in the city – the Morgan Library, where there was a special exhibition of Lincoln’s writings. His genius and his humanity was there to read in his own hand. There is so much going on in the world right now that is horrible and barbaric. It’s depleting. But this weekend I felt like I was on a boat, being lifted and turned by the sea change. Let’s all try to follow that tide.


  1. Woo hoo for Karen! Even a goat knows who she is. :) And a big thumbs up for change! Now as for that Gotham Hall? Is that like Gotham City? Did you get to meet Batman? :) Oy.

  2. Thanks for sharing! What a wonderful weekend!!! I completely agree with all that you said too!

  3. Beautiful post Terry. I’ve always steered clear of even watching the competitive dog shows on TV for the same reasons you mention. On the other hand, I’ve seen the joy of dogs who are entered in local competitive work-outs, and watch how human and dog interact with the fun of competition. Wouldn’t a sea change in dog shows be wonderful all around? I love the positive edge to this post. A sea change is giving me a wave of hope. Cheers to you!

  4. Ah, a sea change like that is something to cherish. I think that most of the craziness and brutality we are seeing around the world is the last gasp of the power-hungry corporations trying to maintain their profits and dominance over the world. We only have this planet, this garden, to cherish and tend. Kindness and love are the tools we need to shape our hands and minds. Thanks for this wonderful post, Terry.

  5. Please note that: ‘issues with the AKC and breeders who focus on looks to such extremes that dogs suffer from genetic predispositions to diseases and have physical issues as basic as being unable to breathe freely’, these animals don’t do well on the show circuit, and that AKC, like God, gives every breeder free will. AKC, and my registry CFA, does NOT condone this behavior from breeders. Ask your friend Karen about this: breeders censor each other. I think it was unfair of you to bring this up on your forum. Along this same train of thought, I think it is unfair of you to keep chickens in the Boston area, where their very LIFE is in danger in bad snow years.

    • Hi Fern, what I have here is a blog, not a forum, but I feel that I should respond to your comment. I stand by what I said. Dogs like pugs have been bred to such an extreme that they can hardly breathe. As far as chickens in the winter – you are misinformed. Chickens die of heat stroke. With proper shelter, like mine have, they thrive in the cold.

      • Fern, I love dogs (never kept chickens) but second Terry’s assertion that so many breeds have been damaged by the often AKC sanctioned “form over function” approach, put kindly. Bulldogs that cannot breed or whelp naturally; Irish Setters that have lost all endurance — or common sense — in pursuit of too tall frames and hair coat only; Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in which heart problems are the rule not the exception; German Shepherds that can barely walk their hind leg angulation is so exaggerated; Grat Danes bred so large and tall their hearts can no longer support their infrastructure…. The list goes on and on. Spend a day at Croft’s dog show in th UK to see what many of these original breeds looked like healthy. I always want to have a respectful discussion, and Terry’s personal blog is her freedom of speech expression — as is this opinion, if Terry chooses to permit it– and totally support Terry’s earlier points about dog breeds, AKC, and so many common and awful training approaches.

        • Terri, I support you 100%. In fact, I do not think you went far enough. What about dogs that were bred to do a specific job but the modern dogs are not able to because the instinct has NOT been a priority in breeding choices; only looks are. My nonAKC border collies work sheep everyday but the AKC version as a whole can’t match their ability.

      • I can attest that chickens do better in the winter than in the heat. I live in Louisiana where it gets really hot. Our chickens lay better in the winter, and we have had pretty cold weather for Louisiana this winter. Most of them stopped laying this past summer because it was so hot, but we made sure to give them ample shade and water to drink. We actually get more eggs at this time of year than in the hot summer.

    • There is no organization anywhere that is ,”like God”, or that they should be compared in any way. God created animals and He allows free will. He does not condone all the choices that man makes. This is Terry’s blog, and Terry you have a world-wide audience that uses our free will to get on-line and read, and enjoy your blog. I am with Marie, ” You go girl! “

  6. Terry, your blog is a lifeline to many of us and you are entitled to say what you like….I don’t know if Fern actually keeps chickens, but if she does she is very misinformed. Glad you had a lovely evening its nice to get glammed up now and again. All the best.

  7. As a long-time blogger, I have always felt that a blog is rather like one’s own living room: a place where a person can speak about his or her own experiences and attract “like minds” who enjoy coming to visit. When someone invites a person into her/his living room, a polite individual would not critique the furniture or surroundings.

    Ms. Golson, thank you for your lovely post. I hope you do not pay too much attention to the ardent individual who forgot she was in another person’s “living room.”

  8. It always makes me sad when negative comments take away goodness and I want you to know Terry that I so appreciate all you do and say…..thanks

    • Connie, what amazes me is that after 9 years of blogging, that I’ve had very few comments that change the tenor of my site. There have been only a handful of instances that I had to block a post. That I’ve had almost a decade of decent people chiming in is one reason that this has been such a joy to do. Thank you, all!

        • Terry I too support your views of the AKC. My Lulu a Boston Terrier was bred by a AKC breeder and was destined to be shot between the eyes because she was not show quality.
          My dad use to breed beagles and bred beagles for what they were meant to be, hunt rabbits.
          Most of his dogs wouldn’t have been allowed on the parking lot of a sanctioned dog show but boy could they hunt.
          I’ll never forget one instance in which a AKC breeder of beagles asked my dad to take a few of his beagles and “train” them to hunt rabbits. Dad gave it a try.
          When the man came back to retrieve his dogs the man asked how did they do. My dad said “there are beautiful dogs but they don’t know the difference between a rabbit and a flying squirrel”. (I’ll never forget that).

          As far as chickens in the winter. Well it was 9 degrees here this morning my hens eagerly jumped off the roost this morning to greet me and were highly disappointed when they saw the area of their run I shoveled had been covered in a inch of new snow. My hens are apparently “delicate” as they will not allow snow to touch the bottom of their feet. ;-)

            • Now if someone would just tell Lulu. ;-) Just kidding, she is a wonderful dog.
              I have had many rescues over the years and I’m convinced they know they have been “saved”. Lulu was almost a year old when the breeder called the rescue group and said come gets these dogs within 48 hours.

  9. I agree with Jen. I have always felt that if a person has nothing positive to say it is best to say nothing at all. A blog is personal and no one has to read it.

    I am glad that you don’t let a negative comment faze you and it is clear from the rest of the comments that your followers agree.

  10. Just would like to reiterate what everyone else has said – your blog is marvellous and obviously enjoyed by so many!
    I find it absolutely fascinating to be able to see where you live and read about your life with your animals, not to mention the wonderful knowledge and information that you provide for us like-minded animal lovers. It’s a joy to hear your views on things and follow your journeys – it’s amazing and I am sure I will not be alone in saying that to check in with your blog is a highlight in the day. Thank you.

  11. just an observation, terry. each one of your chickens represent a specific breed of chicken…bred for certain desired characteristics. they are the products of an intense breeding program to be able to be a reliable and consistent source of egg layers/meat producers. the purpose of a “purebred” anything is to establish “type”, “form” and “function” –otherwise you would not have purebred fowl or caprines.
    as in any group of people, there are those who, in a grab for power and status, will be poor ambassadors for sportsmanship and ethical practices. to criticize ALL breeders for the actions of a few, whom you find so odious, is rather superficial in understanding the purpose of creating purebred animals which you obviously embrace with your poultry and goats.

    • I never lambasted all breeders, and I’ve been a proponent of the essential breeders who keep diverse genetics going, whether with dogs or chickens. That said, there is a problem with all purebred, closed registries. There is a problem when one breeds for type, and is willing to do extreme line-breeding to get that one pretty individual at the expense of the many off-spring that have issues. I’ve written about issues with purebred poultry – an example is the blue cochin – bred for color, many chicks have genetic weakness and are culled. As much as I support the responsible breeders and the value of purebreds, I choose to have mutts, and if I had access to them, I’d get mixed-breed chickens as well.

      • I have Rhode Island Reds, Buff Sussex and Welsummers, over here they are classed as rare breed heritage, but they were still cross’s originally so therefore mutts, they have just not been interbred as much as the hybrid strains that lay themselves to death and have a shorter life expectancy for the sake of cheap eggs which I do not agree with. Sorry makes me cross. See its snowing again !! hope not to much more. Take care.

  12. Terry, you are a wise, kind-hearted, and intelligent guide for many of us! Thanks for sharing your glamorous evening during these cold days of February…excellent to escape from shoveling for a few hours, right?! Keep writing and sharing because many of us appreciate you, your menagerie, and your writing. :)

  13. Just seen Steve doing the chores, nice to see Ladies outside getting some air. Glad you did not get as much snow this time :)

    • Forgot to add we have got heavy rain and winds as usual ( so glad we built the second dry covered area ). At least Girls are happy, english weather !!

      • Rain expected here on Sunday, which is going to be a huge problem, as it will turn the snow pack to ice. Very heavy. Everyone is worried about roof collapse. So, enjoy your gentle English rain :)

  14. Oh, my. I looked in after I commented and a storm had broken loose. Obviously there are Alpines in the human world as well as the goat world. You, go! Perhaps I should give you butting lessons. :)
    By the way, how are the boys? I’ve been gone too long. :(

    • Dear Marigold, the Boys are pleased to hear from another peanut-loving goat. In fact, thanks are long overdo, as the reason that they get peanuts is because they heard how delicious they are from you. Pip has some sort of skin issue on his left butt. When the vet comes to do spring shots, she’ll take a skin scraping and we’ll see what’s what. He says it doesn’t make him itchy, and not to bother, but I will :)