Saturday, April 7, 2012

What's In A Dog Show?

What’s In A Dog Show?

I remember Noel Denton of Georgia doing a talk on dog shows at a seminar.  He was a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor and described the dog show as seen thru the eyes of a southern novice dog show viewer.  Noel dressed for the part in bib overalls and his talk was hysterical to say the least.

Bill Witherspoon of Ohio had a talk he gave of going to his first show with a piece of baling twine for a lead.  Bill was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and along with the dog show story had a number of tales to keep you laughing for hours.  His story about gorilla hunting was the best, but won’t appear here because of delicate terminology.

We know in spite of these fun filled episodes, what a dog show is all about.  It’s where I bring my dog(s) and try to win over your dog(s).  If they happen to be dogs we bred it makes things even sweeter, but as long as you own the winner that may suffice.  You can talk about using the show to pick breeding stock and rightfully so, but it’s all about winning to justify the choice.

Our national specialty has just been held and I’m sure you can check the winners on line if you didn’t attend.  For years people have asked me why I don’t attend the national.  The answer is fairly simple.  I’ve never viewed a dog show as a social event.  My reason for attending a dog show has always been to exhibit or judge.  When I ceased to exhibit I had the good fortune to attend many shows, but never as anything, but a judge.

Generally speaking watching a show is a pursuit I find tedious.  Though I enjoy the occasional outstanding dogs not being able to handle them takes something away from the process.  Long ago I found out that second guessing a judge is generally a fool’s occupation because “your hands must verify what your eyes think they see.”  Most judges will agree they often have the class largely placed before they touch a dog, but touching is how we make sure.

Steve Field, who I consider the consummate Collie fancier, breeder, speaker, writer, and judge, only went to dog shows for a reason.  He attended the Collie Club of Nebraska in his own back yard, but he didn’t go to the national once his career was over.  One year the Quarter Century Group wanted to give him the Right Stuff Award.  The requirement was that you had to be present or it wouldn’t happen.  The show was in Oklahoma, I believe, and they had someone to drive Steve there.  He didn’t go because getting the award was not what dog shows were all about. 

Years ago when I was judging sweepstakes enroute to my judge’s license, I used to groom people’s dogs for the regular classes.  It gave me something to do instead of just sitting.

When I was still showing dogs one of my boys generally went along.  They were my “go-furs” and got coffee, watched the ring and told me which class was in so I could time my grooming accordingly.  Timing was very important to my preparation.  Ideally I took a class dog, class bitch, and a special and recruited friends if I had two dogs at the end.

People used to come and talk as I was grooming and it made me very happy.  If they were watching me, they weren’t getting a dog ready and make no mistake:  I came to beat them.  I always said we can socialize at club meetings, at home, or somewhere else, but not at the show.  Shows have a purpose and I stuck to it.  Perhaps I was too focused in those days, but it worked for me.

As I’ve said before this is just my opinion.  If you like socializing at dog shows that’s fine.  It just has never worked for me.  Decide what your priorities are and act accordingly.

Think About It!

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