Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dog Shows Revisited!

Dog Shows Have Changed!

Recently I attended the Flagstaff Kennel Club Dog Show.
I hadn’t been to a show in “many” years. Much was the same, but a lot had changed.

There were still lots of dogs and stressed owners, breeders, judges, stewards, and handlers, uncomfortable weather, confusion finding rings, and lots of dogs. It reminded me that most dogs shows are not for spectators - or for the dogs- it's all about the dog people. 

It wasn’t a large show, only about 1,000 dogs entered in all classes Obedience and Confirmation but I saw breeds of dogs that hadn’t been sanctioned when I was showing back in the 70s.

I used to be proud of my knowledge of dogs. I thought I could identify every breed, while the average person only knew the most popular. I could point out a smooth Collie, a long haired Dachshund, and a Puli. I knew the names of dogs cat owners couldn’t pronounce. Well, times have changed. There are now 174 AKC recognized breeds and some ready to be added to the list. I saw Canaan Dogs, Swedish Valhunds, Pharaoh Hounds, Dogues de Bordeaux, Cane Corseo, and an Anatolian Shepherd Dogs (especially of interest to my friend Doris).

I was looking forward to watching the Obedience judging. It was a long time since my Old English Sheepdogs achieved their Companion dog titles (three also with a confirmation Championship) Those were the days when some people believed my dogs would go blind if I trimmed their hair enough to see.

I saw many accomplished dogs and trainers, some novices at their first show others performing near perfect scores who made it look so easy, I longed for a dog to train (that feeling didn't last long).
I also was fascinated by obedience classes called Rally. They are new to AKC shows and looked like more fun than the ordinary Novice Open and Utility classes. Before the class started a “course was laid out and handlers walked through. When the judge said "Forward" the owner started and continued over jumps, Most fun was the “course” where dogs were expected to walk past a bowl of biscuits.

Canine Good Citizenship
Had a chance to watch an outstanding judge award Canine Good Citizenship certificates. The various tests were informal and showed if a dog had good manners in some basic situations. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all dog owners had to pass a test.

I saw a woman showing in Obedience wearing an oxygen tank, another in Confirmation in a powered chair. I saw young people in Junior Showmanship and Obedience and talked to many wonderful people happily sharing their knowledge and love of dogs.

Next, I want to attend a larger show and see every one of the newer breeds. And hopefully at least one Old English Sheepdog. And I definitely want to go to an Agility Trial and see dogs flying through the air and crawling through slinky tubes.

I picked up all the AKC literature (notice the librarian coming out again) hoping to understand some of the new things. I was disappointed the brochures didn’t answer my questions.

Thankfully, right before the show I read Show Dog, the Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred by Josh Dean. Besides being an entertaining and educational look at the world of a Best in Show hopeful, it took me right back into the mind of a dog show addict.
I still don’t understand Puppy Groups, Bred by Exhibitor Groups, or the Master classes which seemed to be part of Junior Showmanship. Leave a comment if you can help me out.

For a fun day this Fall find a dog show near you!
To locate shows: check this AKC site, click your state, and the type of event you want to attend (Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Rally, Tracking, etc.) and see what's around. 

Learn more: AKC A Beginner's Guide to Dog Shows

Me and my first OES puppy King Pellinore of Pepperlane, CD

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