Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I regard myself as an authority on corporate arrogance.

After all, I grew up in Cincinnati, the corporate headquarters of Procter & Gamble.  Cincinnati is the world’s largest company town.  Procter & Gamble dominates that city with an iron fist . . . in a Charmin glove of course..  They’re on every board, involved in every municipal decision.  They support every worthwhile charity in the city, so long as that charity doesn’t get out of heel position.

At the same time, they add breadth and depth to the words smug and high-handed.  You don’t challenge P&G.

P&G’s headquarters tower is right in the center of downtown Cincinnati.  Years ago the company wanted to expand its campus to some adjacent land.  Only problem was, an historic old church stood in the way.  Undeterred, the boys on the 11th floor (the corporate poobahs) announced plans to raze the church and bulldoze ahead.  The local preservationists went ballistic.  They went to court and obtained an injunction preventing P&G from touching that church.  P&G fought the order and – to no one’s surprise – the court ruled in the company’s favor

The injunction was to be lifted at the stroke of midnight on a certain date.  P&G had everything in place.  At exactly 12:01 a.m., under cover of darkness, the wrecking ball slammed into the church.  The next morning when Cincinnatians arrived downtown for work the church was only a pile of rubble.

Which brings us to the American Kennel Club and the same “we walk on water attitude.”

Across the years, the now-defunct AKC Gazette carried, near the front of the magazine, a staple called the president’s letter.  The copy was always accompanied by a photo of President Dennis Sprung.  The available photos were rotated from issue to issue.  One showed Sprung seated stiffly in a chair with a large dog – a greyhound, if I remember correctly – seated by his side.  Every time I saw that picture the words that came to my mind were: imperious, regal, pompous.  The photo was appropriately representative of  a high-and-mighty organization.

For the two-plus decades that I’ve been in dog sports that’s the public face the AKC has put on.  Not just for me but for many others. From time to time someone has asked me, “Willard, have you ever sent a letter to the AKC and gotten no answer?”  At which point I’d chuckle.  “Oh yes,” I’d reply, “several times.”

And then there have been the disgruntled alums of various AKC advisory committees.  Mind you, the grumbling comes from credible, well-regarded leaders in the competition obedience world – because (and this is the way it should be) that’s who’s invited to serve on advisory committees – experienced people who know what’s going on.

I hadn’t been in the sport two years – scarcely long enough to figure out which end of the leash attaches to the dog – when I heard from a friend who had been on multiple obedience advisory committees.  A person who later would be honored by the AKC with a lifetime achievement award.  “It’s very disappointing, “ she told me.  “They send us a ton of stuff to study, all of the suggestions that have been submitted.  We read each one, evaluate it, work our tails off before and at the committee meeting.  Then when our suggestions reach the board, they ignore most of them.  Oh, they may throw us a bone or two, but largely our hard work goes for naught.  Advisory committees are only window dressing.

More recently another advisory committee member said, “We all work very hard to prepare for the meeting.  But every time they listen only to a couple of members of the group.”  And she named two names which screamed, “old, old guard!”

Most recently the AKC convened a rally advisory committee.  And, oh boy!  What a firestorm that one ignited.  A few weeks ago the new rally regulations draft was posted.  Here are excerpts from the comments of one prominent member of the group.

“We took our jobs very seriously and spent hours working on it.  We were shocked and dismayed when we discovered that what was being sent to the board of directors for consideration had very little resemblance (if any) to what we had proposed.  There are things in the document that we never/ever/ever discussed or even considered – (things that) didn’t cross our minds.

This blog post started out to talk about arrogance, and there’s a whole boatload of that here.  As well as a generous measure of stupidity.

Folks, this is Public Relations 101.  You don’t ask your public for advice, then blow them off.  If you don’t seek advice in the first place, you generally have a neutral situation.  But select a group of highly credible, highly visible opinion leaders, ask them to advise you, then flip a bird at their suggestions and you’ve created a bunch of well respected people bad-mouthing you . . . and being listened to and believed.  That’s what the AKC does each time they hold a “window dressing” advisory committee.

Recently I featured a series of posts on the subject of poop.  Nothing’s changed here.  This post is about the same thing.  About how the AKC keeps stepping in it.



ard myself as an authority on corporate arrogance.


  1. Don't belong to too many clubs, eh Willard?

  2. Ugh, that doesn't sound promising!

    I've fallen head over heels in love with dog sports and plan to be involved for many, many years to come. I'm still in college, so myself and others my age will one day be the "elders" in AKC, parent clubs, eyc - if we aren't all alienated away by then. And then what would happen? There's much to be said about inexperience and learning from others, but not if they aren't willing to respect you or teach you.

    Recently, 3 Malamutes participated in the AKC Agility Invitational. Our national parent club did NOT sponsor medallions. I wrote to our club president saying that it isn't right for people who've worked so hard with these dogs (Malamutes are tough!) not to get a medallion, and if cost was an issue I'd be willing to sponsor it. The reply was that if one was sponsored for agility, the others for obedience and conformation must be sponsored too. It sounds like a shake down, but I said fine, I'll sponsor all three but apparently it still has to get approved by the board. Why in the world it's even a question is beyond me.

    It's almost as if some people sit around and try to figure out the most backwards, inefficient way to go about things!