A Newbie's View of Dog Showing

Post date: Jan 12, 2009 3:57:17 AM

By Jane Brennan  

Bring a chair. Dress as nicely as you can. Be ahead of time at ringside, check in, get your number and watch the judge’s pattern. Figure out what order you go into the ring. Be ready when the steward calls your number. These are the basics. Some things you have to learn to keep from looking so pitiful.

Bobby is my first Terv, but he isn’t the first dog I have shown. We showed our German Shorthaired Pointer twins from the time they were six months old to the time they were fixed. Now they hunt birds and embarrass us in the obedience rings. Our intention was to show them in conformation to gain experience and socialization. They got a bit of experience, but we didn’t learn much. We had taken handling classes, we watched others show, and we read the AKC brochure for newbies. Still, we looked like the idea of showing our dogs must have come to us the morning of the show, over the cheerios.

For me, conformation is a game my dog seems to like. I saw a difference the first time I showed Bobby. Maybe I appeared to be more open to ringside advice, or maybe I just looked hopelessly pathetic. There is a long list of things I have learned from the regulars at ringside. The most important thing I have learned is to be open, and learn all I can.

Respect. Aretha Franklin wasn’t singing about the conformation ring, but in some ways, she could have been. The game seems to be encompassed in respect. Respect for the breed you are proudly showing. Respect for the history of that breed, and the work he was meant to do. Respect for competitors and their dogs. Even if it seemed obvious to me that I was there to simply add to someone else’s “dogs defeated” points, my competitors always seem to treat Bobby and me as if we just might take the win. Respect for the judge shows in what we wear, how prepared we are and how we don’t obviously roll our eyes when the judge picks the other dog. Respect, I’ve learned also is shown by going to the group ring, even when you were the only one in the competition. Not a big win, I know, but a way of saying, “Thanks Judge, for not laughing at me and sending me home.” It also has the added benefit of showing off the breed to those spectators who still think you’ve got a Collie German Shepherd cross.

This is just a newbie’s view. I am sure I will learn more as I go. There is always something to learn. Find those mentors. Ask. If the information gleaned does not fit your style, be gracious anyway. You might find it helpful when you are further along. If conformation is something you do, or would like to do, relax, learn something every time you show, and above all, HAVE FUN.