Sunday, January 9, 2011

Denial with a side of Dread

I know, it’s great to learn new things and grow as person, but I’ve got to say that I dread trying to turn


A wild, naughty adolescent blur

Into this:

A Champion show dog.
This is Rip's dad, Wally.
Rip inherited the handsome part, but not the "standing still" part...

Obedience, agility, rally = no problem
We’re already training for them, and my wild boy loves it.  I understand who's who, what's what, and where to show in these performance in events.

This conformation thing?  Scary

I've had a couple of people ask me when I'm going to take Rip to his first conformation show, and I've got to say I’m in denial that I’ve committed to showing Rip to his championship.  The shows begin here again at the end of January.  January!  That’s this month! We’re not ready for the end of January!  Maybe the end of March/early April shows?

Right now it all just seems like so much extra work, and way too many things to learn.  
  • How to plan a show schedule, and know where to show?
  • What class do I enter Rip in? 
  • What do I do when I get to the show site? 
  • What am I supposed to wear?
  • And the grooming?  My biggest dread.  How can a “wash and go” dog like the Cardi take so long to groom for the breed ring?  I don’t know and, truthfully, I don’t have much desire to find out…
  • And I'm sure there are dozens of other things I don't even yet know to ask.  Yikes.
Yes, I know I volunteered to this, and made a commitment when I got Rip to show him in the breed ring.  I just need to suck it up, get signed up for some shows, and fumble around like an idiot for a while.  Maybe I'll even enjoy it at some point?


  1. no rush...

    Go to the shows and watch, network and meet people. See if they will let you watch them groom. Be easiest to go without him so you can just get into the flow.

    And classes. Of course.

    When he's ready you'll want to enter him in 6-9 male puppy (or 9-12, or 12-18 or open). Age classes then open. Don't blow money on American Bred, Novice or Amatuer anything. And don't feel like its a race :)

    Bathe before and try to have his coat blown dry smooth. Trim the hair under his feet. Yes, we use a lot of things day of, but for now a clean and relatively calm coat is the goal. If you try to learn everything at once you'll be overwhelmed.

    Show choke - small link chain with small loop. 16 or 18 inch - you don't want much extra to fool with. 4' thin leather or nylon lead for now.

    Ok, next lesson later :)

  2. The AKC website has a wonderful search feature for upcoming events. Go to "Events->Events and Awards Search", and then click on the "Conformation" tab. Click on the states you'd be willing to consider showing in, select Cardigans from the drop-down, and click Search.

    It will give you a list of shows. It will tell you who the breed/group/BIS judges are, and how many competed last year. And, it will tell you who the show superintendent is. You can then go to the super's website (if you don't know the website just do a google search for the super) to find out about entry information. :)

    I'm with Mandy...just do one thing at a time. Start training him at home, very quick lessons on table stacking and on standing still on the ground. Just a few minutes a day, and don't ask for much at first...if he lets you fix his feet on the table and holds it for a second, then that's good enough.

  3. I cant come for the January show, Lani, but I plan on coming for the February one. I would be happy to walk you through it all and show you how I groom. Everyone does it different as it really depends on your dogs individual coat, as to how much is needed. Grace took me hours, Peace minutes. I am no expert, but I am more htan willing to help.

  4. Take other people's dogs "back in" for them or help handle extras. It's easier to learn when you're not emotionally attached.

    Oh, and that part about Wally standing still? It's a picture, not a video. Of course he's standing still in it.

    Wally could be a bit of a butt.

    And next: we all make fools of our selves. I would say at first, but even 20+ years later at times. It gives you something to laugh about later with your friends.

    Bringing him to nationals? Either of us would be glad to show him.

  5. Lani -
    I got my first 'show dog' from Carolyn after asking for an agility prospect. Interestingly, that was over 8 years ago now and I've STILL never done agility! I got hooked on conformation and the rest is history.
    You've received some good advice here. I can recommend a few good books, if you're one who likes to read... Best advice I saw here was "it's not a race". Just go out, have fun with your puppy and learn from as many Cardigan folks as you can! We're fortunate to have an amazing group of people in our breed!!

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  7. Let's try this again...

    Feel free to watch these early videos of my experiences in the show ring with Sam and Moira.

    If I can't be a good example, I can serve as a horrible warning :) I've gotten a little better - 5 years on - but not much. It's like anything, you have to practice, practice, practice. It it helps, think of it like agility in that both you and the dog need to learn some muscle memory. Get someone to videotape you practicing as well as showing - that will help tremendously, if you can bear to watch yourself! Have fun though - how you feel will travel right down the lead to Rip so keep yourself in the right frame of mind and you will both enjoy yourselves.

  8. Get the book "Show Me!" a dog show primer. Remember this is fun and you will eventually have a good time. Dog shows are fun, Dog Show are Fun!

  9. Thanks, everyone for the notes & recommendations. After 8 years showing in performance - and finally feeling "comfortable," starting a new venue just seems daunting.

    Traci - I love to read, so if you have some recommendations, please send them my way.

    Dawn - hopefully we can meet at a show this year.

  10. as a newbie to all things showdog, I can also say that "Show Me" is excellent, and "Tricks of the Trade" by judge Pat Hastings is also very helpful. I have found out that the most important things to feeling successful are making new friends and just enjoying the experience no matter the outcome of any individual show or cluster.


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