I've written it before not long ago, and I'm going to write it again. Thank you to all of you for making RTF what it is.
Over the last nine years, the "place" in cyberspace that we have come to know as RTF has evolved a whole lot. We have had clubs and organizations formed through this thing. We have had businesses formed through this resource. We have had countless friendships established, and may have even played a role in the flooded market of well-bred labrador puppies for HT/FT's! Well, maybe not that far, but we sure have helped a lot of good puppies find good homes! I'm pretty sure we've even had RTF in the middle of some folks falling in love and creating new life partners!
There have been debates - heck, debate is a big part of what the board is here for - to respectfully debate the subject matter (NOT to degrade and gramatically abuse the person or opponent). There have been blow-outs that have resulted in some pretty darn good friendships once both sides have cleared the air.
We've had times where folks think that RTF should be just about training and the GDG and tailgate talk should be elsewhere. We have had the complete opposite expressed - where RTF should be a tailgate atmosphere and we have fun and talk a little training, but don't get too bogged down.
The fact is, the RTF culture is not my project. It is not any one person's ego-trip. RTF is here for all of you to use. It continually evolves, and reaches its own balance. RTF has repeatedly, perenially, shown a self-moderating, self-healing character that speaks highly of its users.
The moderators and administrators are merely firefighters. Occasionally a spark hits the ground. If left unattended it can run off out of control, gaining steam and creating some un-necessary damage. Occasionally, VERY occasionally we snuff out a spark - hopefully before much fire damage results.
RTF continues to evolve as it always will. Nearly every week, I see great examples of why RTF has been a great part of my life and my family. I regularly see reasons why I'm proud to be associated with 99.9% of all of RTF's use. Just today we showed amazing support of Tom as he heads off to deal with tough challenges - and he chooses to share his decision with us. We've supported Becky on her step-dawg's tangle with a rattler, reminding the yankee RTF'ers of how much they fear gators 'n snakes!
Among the biggest and most touching to me personally, was when brother Shayne organized a drive to help offset some pretty big vet bills that I incurred when my old Luke dog had a few surgeries after a duckboat accident. I was blown away by the support you guys showed, and the efforts that Shayne put into the project. I still have Buck Mann's prize-winning DJ Calls custom engraved box set sitting on my bookshelf among my modest decoy collection.
I want to thank you all. I want to thank you all for the nice comments you sent to Greg Olson at Rehydrate too. He told me today that the responses for a free Rehydrate trial were loaded with appreciative comments from you RTF'ers, thanking him for the support of the board.
RTF is about to take on a facelift, as you have heard for a while. After CreativeAnswer finalizes a big project for a major outdoors company, RTF will get the VBulletin conversion. I am sure a bug or two will result. I'm sure that just like when you get in the rental car and can't find the lever to open the gas lid, there will be some temporarily frustrating nuances to figure out.
I'm confident that in short time, RTF will be even better.
Thanks again to you all. RTF is more than just a website to me. RTF is a whole lot of friends, and is a true community. Heck, RTF really is a family.
Chris Atkinson (aka the Janitor)