Perfection - in baby steps... I think one of the things that a lot of people and breeders in particular struggle with is the perceived need to do things perfectly. Perfect test scores, perfect coloration, perfect temperament, perfectly trained. It can get to be overwhelming. Honestly, perfection paralysis is a real thing, and so are the feelings of inadequacy we confront ourselves with on a daily basis.
In the world of breeding, this concept is reinforced by so many breeders absolutely being ruthless with each other trying to prove the other is not being responsible. Everyone knows that there are very real and unethically operating puppy mills, places with awful conditions. We all need to unite against breeding done this way. It is such a powerful wrong in the world that breeders and anti-breeders alike feel so free to throw words around to their fellow breeders and say someone else is doing it wrong when maybe it is only different. It is a very disheartening name-calling mess. Please don't confuse being responsible with doing things the way they have traditionally been done. I personally like to occasionally ask myself "but why do we do it that way?" That doesn't make me ignorant and unethical, it makes me an innovator.
I recently read the book This Could Be Our Future A MANIFESTO FOR A MORE GENEROUS WORLD
By YANCEY STRICKLER he talks about examining the hidden defaults, the why behind the what that you do. It was very empowering. It made me re-think my very concept as a human. I felt able to change so many things for the better because of that, but just one at a time.
What are the traditional "this is how things are done" rules have you been following without knowing why? I think that it can be proposed that some of the testing standards breeders set for themselves and others are contributing to the lack of diversity in dogs. In fact, geneticists at embark and other places have said that very thing. My Mom called that 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater".
The following sounds crazy and is said a bit tongue-in-cheek, but do we actually need to thank the "backyard breeders" for maintaining some diversity when "strict standards" purebred breeders were discarding too many animals and causing bottlenecks in the gene pool? What does it mean to be a "preservation breeder"? Do we need to redefine the terminology?
I recently joined a group called the functional dog collaborative who discuss some of the structural and temperamental whys in the breeding of pet and working dogs. I have explored concepts to help me to improve my breeding focus and program. They are open as a group for the creation of new breeds to meet the requirements for the pet dogs of today.
People come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and motivations, it is ok that our pets do the same. There is absolutely no one size fits all pet dog. I feel perfectly justified in breeding healthy, diverse, family pets that will be described as "the best dog we ever had" even though I have been called many names because of it I am convinced that this is really necessary as the way we live, work, and interact with our fellow humans' changes and evolves in society today.
Striving for perfection is a struggle in the breeding world but also in all of the things we do.
Am I doing enough as a parent?
Does my front yard represent what my values are?
How can I beat myself up today?
Start by being kind to yourself, I promise you if you put your heart into the things you do, and even take baby steps at improving and getting where you want it will make an incredible difference in your life.
Don't compare yourself to others, compare yourself to your yesterday self, and just do a little better. Don't get stuck behind the roadblock you made for yourself. Make a better future for yourself.
What are some of the baby steps you want to take in your life?