I posted how our conformation classes went over the weekend, but I never posted what it was like to be "on my own" at a conformation show.
The stuff that I took to the Show:
The stuff that I took to the Show:
- Lots of towels
- A metal crate, and an old sheet to cover it
- Grooming table & arm
- Training bag - including treats, tug toys, chew toys, poo bags, and a clicker
- Water for me & Rip
- Show collar & lead
- Show clothes for me
- My "human" dog show bag (which has things like chapstick, a comb, mints, tissues, hand wipes, a pen, a granola bar...)
- Grooming tools (brush, nail grinder, chalk, chalk brush, pet wipes. That's it.) I know, you conformation pros are probably thinking I'm crazy. But who are we kidding? I could bring a dryer, but Rip hates it, and I end up making him look like a husky, so what's the point? And really, I don't own any other grooming supplies.
The Stuff I wish I'd taken to the show: some chocolate, reading material, and lint/pet hair remover.
When I got to the show I had no idea where to set up. I hopefully pulled up to a sign that said "grooming." I thought this would be a good place to start (clever girl that I am).
I opened the door to a sea of empty crates and tables, with not a lot of spare room available. I stood there for a while. A nice woman walked up to me and I explained that I'd never shown there before, where do I crate? She shoved a few crates over, and made some space for me. Thank you, nice lady!
I set up, then went to get Rip. He and I wandered around a bit, looking for our ring. In the process of opening doors to buildings we managed to set off a whole pack of English Toy Spaniels who were on their tables being groomed -- that was kind of fun ;)
We finally found our ring, so I took Rip back to our grooming space. I put him up on the table and thought, "hmmm, what do I do now?" I tried to remember all of the pieces of advice Dawn gave me when I met her in Des Moines.
Unfortunately the only one I could remember was "Cardigans are supposed to look natural." I took that thought and ran with it. Meaning I put Rip on the table, stared at him a while, then brushed his neck, body, and tail. That took about 10 minutes (including staring time).
I now had lots of time on my hands, so I wandered back over to our ring, to see if I could pick up my number. It was still 40 minutes before our ring started, so no luck. I looked around and saw other Corgi people furiously grooming their dogs. That worried me. I saw a Pem woman I know from our club, and asked her how she planned to keep the loose dirt off her dogs. She said she was going to make sure they were really dry so the dirt didn't stick, add some chalk to the paws to try and keep them white, and hope for the best.
Ah ha! There was something else I could do. I had some chalk and a brush. I went back to Rip, and added some chalk to his paws. Thankfully Dawn had warned me about chalk's tendency to get everywhere, so I had extra towels, a dog wipe, and a hand wipe ready. I needed them all.
In the Ring
I've taken conformation classes. I've watched conformation. I showed Dawn's lovely girl Grace. I still have no idea. I can walk in a straight line. I can follow basic ring procedures. That's about as nuanced as it gets.
On Saturday, I sought out some handling advice after I was in the ring. The conformation veterans I was talking to didn't really know what I was asking. Truly. They were very nice, but just too far removed from being ring novices. I see this in agility & obedience, too. The hard core competitors just can't relate at all to the beginners.
On Sunday, a woman I know from performance gave me some feedback - don't touch my dog so much. I appreciate knowing what I can do better. I used to have a riding instructor who yelled things like, "Dear God, you call THAT a sitting trot?!" I can take advice. Bring it on. Sans yelling is appreciated.
In the End
The weekend was nice. I survived. I learned some new things, and I met some nice people. Rip had fun.
Oh, and Penni, Mandy & Carolyn - you have a lot of training to do at the Specialty next week. And I'm talking about me, not Rip!