Thursday, May 24, 2012

Too Much of a Good (??) Thing

Too Much of a Good (??) Thing

How many dog shows are too many?  After increasing the number of show giving clubs to bolster a sagging income, the AKC now allows clubs to band together to make mega-events.  Our local Apple Blossom Cluster is just one example.  It has now increased to five shows on Thursday thru Monday of Memorial Day weekend. All we need to do is add some evening specialties to make it perfect.  God forbid we worry about the dogs!

Back in the days of the dinosaurs when I showed Collies my dogs never saw more than two shows per weekend.  The rest of the time they got to rest up, play and be quite comfortable at home.  Our record was quite competitive and the dogs didn’t get too stressed.  I worried about showing puppies because I guessed that every day at a show was one when they missed growing.  How selfish!

Besides being a strain on the dogs all these shows are breeding other problems.  Specialty shows are fighting hard to stay alive for many reasons.  Finding an affordable site is becoming tougher and many people find showing under all breed judges to their advantage.  When your only acquaintance with a Collie is to take an open book test and attend a national specialty, strange things can happen.

The point scale has gone to heck in a hand basket for many reasons and you can now have a major with a handful of Collies.  In the old dinosaur days a major was a real feat and to be treasured.  Depending on where you showed it took 20 or so dogs and in California it was ridiculous.  Now we have majors with 7 or 8 dogs in some cases and read ads where dogs finished with “all majors!”  Please get a life!

One of my other favorites and another money-making scheme is the Grand Champion.  It helped me decide I no longer needed to judge these things we now call dog shows.  It seems there are various degrees of Grand Champion.  I recently saw a dog advertised as the only Platinum Grand Chump (oops!) in its breed.  Can Diamond Encrusted Grand Champions be far behind?  Anything to get more dogs shown and shown and shown.

When I started to show seriously, Bill Van Dyck told me one day that Reserve Winners meant Best of the Losers.  He promptly gave me reserve when first I showed under him!  Today in addition to Grand Champs the judge has to worry about select, awards of merit (or lack thereof) and, at larger shows, who makes the cut.  People do advertise making the first, second or ad infinitum cuts at the national.  Please get a life?  It’s only a bloody dog show not a nuclear disarmament treaty. 

I might as well get one more pet peeve off my chest while on the subject of shows.    The pictures I see of Collies (and Shelties) at shows often with professional handlers sometimes cause me much anguish.  When I showed dogs grooming was a thing I prided myself on and worked at constantly.  The grooming of a Collie was an effort to make the animal resemble as closely as possible what the standard describes Yes, I did say “standard”, that oft maligned and apparently seldom read document.

The Collie is to be trimmed for showing in a subtle, but definite manner.  Forgive me if I quote that confusing old standard again.  “The forelegs are smooth and well feathered to the back of the pastern.  “(Not to the floor)”  The hind legs are smooth below the hock joints.  Any feathering below the hocks is removed for the show ring.”  If you don’t know how to groom, please learn particularly if you’re paid for your efforts, oh yes, “excessive posing is undesirable. (Had to get that in)

Collies are herding dogs and should appear as though they can do the job whether or not they ever saw a sheep.  In breeding and grooming we should strive for an animal that looks like they could drive livestock to market not pull them in a blasted wagon!  “Cumbersome appearance” is not desirable.  On what planet should a Collie look like a clumsy clod? 

Think About It!!  Please!!


  1. George, thank you. With the cluster shows, I find myself asking if I want to put a young dog through all of that stress, especially puppies. As the majority of the shows are now parts of a cluster, I do bring puppies, but they certainly aren't entered every day.

    I have often thought, even though our standard (OMG, that word AGAIN) does not have a disqualification for over or undersized, it might be enlightening to have a wicket available and to wicket our dogs. Because I also have a whippet I used to show, I have a wicket. One of the accusations made against my rough special is he is too small...compared to what??? He wickets out at 25 inches, dead center of the suggested height range for a male.

    However, I know that suggestion of dropping a wicket over our dogs will fall on deaf ears. It was certainly interesting to me though when I did wicket my boy.

    Lynda J. Cox
    Collies of Wych

  2. Mr. George,

    What an informative blog post! I have been reading your articles in old collie magazines since I was 14 years old. I learn something new everytime I come across your writings. Please keep up the good work.

  3. Thank you for your articles. You are a voice of reason and you have common sense. I respect the Standard, and I am one of the very few using only water and natural grooming. My dogs earn points by their own merits, and what you see is what you get. I have been told by other breeders that if I would conform to the grooming practices of others, that I could make a name for myself. Being honest and true to my beliefs is more important.

    You have an understanding and appreciation for Collies, and you are a guardian and steward for them. Their versatility, responsibility, and dedication makes them an exceptional breed. They are not vain about their natural beauty and balance, but focus outwardly to the welfare and care of their loved ones. It is one of life's privileges and blessings to be able to share time with a Collie.

  4. Oh my gosh... you are a BLOGGER!!!!!!!


  5. George - Thank you for you thoughts and honesty and your voice of reason. Many years ago I had the privilege of showing my dog under you where she won her first major (very first points for her). A couple of years later, you gave her her third major as well - when she only needed one point to finish that day. I was honored that you appreciated her quality even though an unknown handler (me) was at the end of the leash. Thank you for helping make a dream come true for me with a dog I believed in and one that will be tough to replace. The collie world needs more people like you.