DANELINKS.COM                             3/1/05




The Sport
of Purebred Dogs:

"A place where humanity thrives"



by Dana Cline  ...





Just a few weeks back when I was pondering some ideas for an article for Danelinks, my thoughts were of things less controversial, and perhaps something that exists within our sport that we so very often are remiss about, and take little notice of. At any moment one can find some new hot rumor or gossip flying about, tales of bad sportsmanship, bad judging or ill behavior. What I wish to share from my own personal experiences, not only provides our wonderful sport great redemption, it shows the true humanity and compassion that exists among our canine “families”.


This past weekend I judged at the Blackhawk K.C. in Chicago, for those who are not familiar, it is the kick off show to the fabulous and largely popular International K.C. Of Chicago benched show. At 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, a call came into my cell phone from a friend, announcing the death of a very popular, talented and most of all kind handler. “Rollie has died“, the voice said, the news was shocking, I had just seen and spoken to him not 12 hours before. Mr. Roland Wilson had suffered what appeared to be a massive coronary in the very early hours of Saturday morning while caring for his charges, he was accompanied by his young daughter Shannon. Although I was not a direct witness to the events that followed, sources say that it was a remarkable example of compassion by a large group of people, bound together in loss and sorrow and celebration of the life of a wonderful man, a wonderful friend to so many.

Saturday morning after Mrs. Wilson returned home , the benching area that they had once occupied was filled with flowers from the various All-breed and Specialty clubs, digital photos, stuffed animal toys, condolences and a memorial in the name of our friend Rollie. Thousands of people passed by that spot for at least two days, many of them strangers, oblivious to any of the previous events and the great loss our sport had suffered, early that Saturday morning. What was most obvious and plain for anyone to see was just what our sport is made of. An outpouring of compassion, respect and support, at a time when we all had suffered a very personal and most painful loss.

As many of you may already know, this past summer was not only the most frightening, but also most challenging time I may experience for the rest of my life. I was diagnosed with a recurring form of testicular cancer, unable to be specifically diagnosed until many months after its discovery. I underwent thirty plus long hours of chemotherapy infusions per week for a period from April to August, followed by a very invasive, painful surgery called a Retro-peritoneal lymph node dissection to remove a grapefruit sized tumor from behind my abdomen and main artery. Keeping up with my busy judging schedule was the most important goal for me, I felt it was what would get me through the rough spots and make the time fly by. For anyone who knows me well enough, losing my hair would not be on my top ten list of things to do, but it was inevitable, six weeks down the road, I was becoming obviously weaker and bald as a baby's bottom. I spent as little time in bed as possible during treatments, somehow my blood levels and blood quality remained stable, I was surviving well the massive doses of aggressive chemotherapy that were filtering through my body. I tried to keep up with my regular routines, caring for my dogs, managing my business and of course going off on weekends to judge the shows, sometimes feeling so fatigued that I might not be able to last another day.

So to that end, I am here today, alive and doing well and in remission for now. Looking back on the whole ordeal, there are so many new lessons that I have learned, the obvious being, never take for granted the things you cannot control, your health and your life for starters. Equally as important I discovered the huge capacity of kindness that lives in the hearts and lives of the individuals that surround me on a daily basis. My nurses who cared for me, to the friends who sent hundreds of cards and emails, the phone calls just to say hello for no particular reason and of course the many visits I had from friends in the hospital and at home. For the most part, it was my “family” in our sport who pulled me through the dark hours of some pretty challenging days, telling me how handsome I looked bald, how they wouldn’t have even known I was sick (all little white lies). Living alone, having a helping hand to accomplish small tasks when I felt too weak to do them on my own, or having company for dinner, actually more like a coach to convince me to eat to keep up my strength. I could never express the gratitude I feel for the numerous individuals who helped me along the way, it was truly remarkable.

I think it's important to remember that while we all share a love and passion for our animals and competition, after all is said and done, at the end of the day we all go back to our lives. Some more successful, some less, but the one true thing we all share alike is the vulnerability of life and its challenges. I have in the last few months realized how very fortunate I am to have so many wonderful people in our sport to call my friends.

One can never know when a last opportunity may occur.

I can bear witness to the great compassion and humanity that is very much alive in our sport today, a sense of caring and kindness that might very well be unique to our sport. I for one am thankful for and proud of the image that shines upon our sport through so many terrific individuals.

Other articles by Dana Cline:


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