Category Archives: Conformation

Pupdate – May 2014 Dog Shows

After our last dog show, I resolved to do something about how Epic appears in profile, so back to conformation handling classes we went. What I learned is that if I hold Epic’s head up by her collar just a bit, and lover the bait to almost my knees, it improves her profile a lot.

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The negative, if there could be one, is that it’s an awkward position and I feel like my contortions get in the way of the overall picture. I also know that Epic is happier and more comfortable if she can stand, move, and stay on her own. If she were taller, or I were shorter I could probably get the correct positioning standing in front of her with a cookie held ‘just so‘. As it is, I have to contort myself so I can hold her collar high enough, hold the bait low enough, and keep my eye on the “judge”. I’m not graceful. It’s awkward. So I’m going to go with this for now while working on shaping that behaviour without having to use the collar.

May 9-10, 2014 – Mid Canada Dog Association – Winnipeg, MB

Once again, a dog show coincides with a dog food order! This time, I decided we would go for an overnight trip. We’d attend two shows Friday and a show and sweepstakes on Saturday before picking up our dog food and going home.

Our first show on Friday also happened to be a Rottweiler Club of Canada Booster which means there would be prizes over and above the regular ribbons. Once again, there were no girls entered so we needed a Best of Winners to take any points. fortunately, thanks to the booster, we were guaranteed to take something home to show for our time in the ring.

I had heard some not so complimentary things about our judge online so I made sure to get there early and to watch him judge the group before us. If he seemed overly harsh with the dogs, my plan was not to show until the afternoon. As it was, the judge was very thorough, his exam was longer than any I have ever seen but he was gentle with all the dogs I watched him judge in the non-sporting group, even the ones who seemed less than impressed with dog shows in general. Having seen this, I decided we would show that morning.

We were on our own, again so I don’t have any photos or video of us in the ring which is too bad because Epic and I won her first points! FINALLY! Maybe there is hope for us yet. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to catch Epic’s breeder on Facebook to let her know. She was thrilled and asked if we would get a photo. I had not been planning on it, but I did anyway because I figured it would be nice to have a photo of our first win together.

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Photo by Faye Unrau

That afternoon, at our second show, the dog show gods did not smile upon us. I got a comment from someone who was watching that he thought Epic looked bored so he thought I should talk to her and play with her to ‘jazz her up’. I wondered if maybe she was a bit tired, we drove to the show that morning and maybe travel plus 2 shows is too much for her.

Since then I have revised my thinking. The thing about Epic is that she is NOT a wild and crazy girl. From puppy hood, she has always been busy, but with purpose, always thoughtful, always watching before jumping in to do anything. Before I knew Epic was coming home with us, I asked the owner of her sire, Gable, what he was like in the obedience ring. Rich’s reply to me was that Gable wasn’t a flashy worker but he learned quickly, knew his job and he did it happily. This is exactly how I would describe Epic: Calm, relaxed, ready to work. I believe my ringside critic might have interpreted Epic’s calmness for boredom or lack of engagement. In the end, I decided not to make any major changes to our routines that weekend. We’d stick with what we knew and perhaps work on something different for the next show.

On Saturday, at our third show, Epic was exactly how she had been for the first two shows, we did not win any points but she showed well. I was pleased however, I got flack again from our critic once out of the ring. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not that I don’t appreciate the “help” but I have a hard time taking advice from someone who does’t know my dog very well and who, since I have known them hasn’t set foot in anything but a conformation ring. To say I question this person’s ‘dog sense’ would be an understatement but I don’t want to appear ungrateful or alienate them so I really, really need to find a way to tell this person to leave us alone without offending them.

Our final ring appearance of the day was an All-Breed Sweepstakes. We have never done one before but basically it’s a mini show for dogs of any breed that are 6 to 18 months of age. The show does not count for points but the entry fee is much lower ($10) and a portion of the entry fees is offered back as prizes. I entered because I figured it was another opportunity for us to gain experience.

We had a lot of waiting to do because for some reason, at dog shows, the boys go first. In the end, a very cute Samoyed was declared the best male. Then we had to wait for the 6-9 month girls and then, finally, it was our turn. This judge had all the dogs move around the ring quite a bit. First around together, then the exam and down and back and then finally around individually. I don’t think we have ever run around a ring so much. The other thing this judge did a lot of was look at dog’s faces and expression, both in the exam, the down and back and then on a final walk by. This suited me just fine since I think Epic has nice eyes, nice ears and a very expressive face. We won our 9-12 month class which meant we had to wait some more and then go back in with all the females for the judge to pick the best female. Once again we did a lot of running, Epic gave a lot of ‘good face’ and we won best female! Finally, shaking with excitement, we went back in for the judge to choose best in sweeps, we repeated the same routine as we had the first two times (by this time *I* was tired) and He. Chose. EPIC!!!!!

Needless to say I was thrilled, it was a lovely way to finish our weekend and we just might continue with this confrontation thing.

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Filed under Conformation, Problem Solving, Pupdate, Training

Pupdate – February 21, 2014

Last weekend, Epic and I attended our very first conformation dog show. We have been preparing at home and in class for some time now and a local show provided the perfect opportunity to put our skills to the test.

Since it was Epic’s first show, and because I had some teaching commitments I decided that we would go to the Friday night sanction match, pop in for a quick visit before class on Saturday and enter one show each day Saturday and Sunday.

At the Sanction match on Friday, Epic had a very good time. she did tricks for hotdogs while we waited, she met a few new people and our time in the ring was fun for her.  Compared to our conformation handling classes, the ring was relatively empty so we had plenty of room. Epic gaited around the ring and then for the ‘down and back” without any of the sniffing she did at the last match and she nailed her free stack in front of the judge on the down and back. I felt much more relaxed than last time however the judge asked me to repeat the down and back going slower. I’m not 100% sure what this means but I’m guessing that the increased speed did not give her a clear picture of Epic’s gait.

On Saturday, we arrived in time to watch the Rottweiler class. There were seven dogs altogether, which is a great entry, last show in Brandon had only one Rottweiler entered. Most of the dogs entered were puppies about a month younger than Epic. All of the puppies were larger than she was and all of them were well prepared, since they are owned by seasoned breeders/owners/handlers.  While I watched the class, Epic had some down time in her crate. She fussed a bit as I left her but settled in nicely after that.

Sunday was our first show. I knew Epic was ready but was nervous all the same.  She showed as well as she did Saturday but the judge thought both other Female Puppies were nicer than the was that day so we left with a 3rd in class ribbon.

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Epic holding her stack ringside and paying attention. Too bad I am missing it!

I was slightly more nervous about the Monday show because our judge was a larger, taller man than I think she has seen. Epic on the other hand, thought he was just great! The judge’s ring procedure was a bit different this time and I felt like Epic got more of a look than she had on Saturday. This judge also asked me to repeat the down and back, so I really need to figure that out and/or take a valium before going into the ring! When all was said and done we got a second in class ribbon and a reserve winners female ribbon.

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Epic giving the judge her ‘hypno-stare’

Thinking back over the weekend, I am thrilled that Epic is a functional dog in a new , challenging and busy environment. She did not miss a beat and was able to do everything I asked of her without hesitation. Had I been in that environment with Bear, I am not certain I would have enjoyed myself as much. he requires much more management and vigilance and preparation before he can even think about performing.

I think we will try to attend a few more shows this spring. I don’t think she is as mature as the other dogs that will be in her class but I do think that gaining ring experience and exposure to new environments is a good thing.

On the Rally Front…

Epic and I have been taking advantage of the mini courses I have been setting for my Novice Rally Class and I am seeing some improvement in her ability to stay with me between stations. could it be that my baby girl is growing up? Below is a video from last Friday.

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Filed under Conformation, Pupdate