A good friend, and avid dog sports enthusiast, recently asked me why I participate in sports with my dogs – obedience, conformation, and weight pulling in my case. It’s a good question. Dog sports are expensive and time-consuming and result in no tangible benefits. Sure, most participants pretend that the titles and trophies are important. They may even believe it. But really, what is the significance of the fancy ribbon my poodle won? Will it reduce global warming? Feed starving children? Bring me closer to God? Dog sports simply are not important, yet I, along with many thousands of others, am willing to invest significant amounts of time and money to participate. Why do I do it?
I have not been able to settle on one concise reason. My reasons are many and varied, and, surprisingly, have little to do with the actual sports themselves. My purposes are served whether or not my dog “accomplishes” anything.
Dog sports foster the human-animal bond, which is well known to have many benefits for the humans involved. Working toward a goal with my dog
helps me know my dog better and appreciate my dog’s unique qualities
Sports are fun! Both humans and dogs have an inherent need for play.
Playing together is just plain enjoyable. Sports also support mental
and physical health for both dogs and humans. The socialization, and
the mental and physical activity, are all beneficial to both me and my dog.
My dogs are happier when they have a job to do. Sure, they love
lounging on the sofa, but they love working with me more! Because I love my dogs, making them happy makes me happy.
Dog people are some of the finest folks in the world. It’s a crowd I
can really enjoy hanging around with. Most people at a canine sporting event are ready to put aside religious, political, and socio-economic differences just to have a good time together with their dogs. It’s refreshing.
I like dog sports for the same reason I like dogs. They make me happy.