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Spinoff - How we got into showing our Show Dogs

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  • Spinoff - How we got into showing our Show Dogs

    Originally posted by outside__line View Post
    I am really enjoying seeing all of your awesome dogs! Thanks for sharing them!

    I wonder if you dog showing experts would share how you got into showing? It is something I am really interested in doing someday and I'd love to hear how you got started.
    Ultimately, for me, it was because I wanted to do something with a Cavalier. Conformation seemed like it would be a fun thing to do - I had groomed many a show dog as a pro pet groomer, and had a friend who was willing to teach me the ropes. Besides, there was a couple of local handling classes, so why not?

    Sonesta took a chance on me, and let me have Willie to learn with. There is definitely a learning curve, but Willie and I figured it out. I had never shown before I got him (oh, how I wish I knew about Junior Handling when I was a kid!) but managed to finish his CH and GCH completely owner-handled. We've even managed a Group placement and to get a minor ranking status last year.

    I'm enjoying the whole experience, especially since Mr. Emryss now likes the show circuit, too. He is ring stewarding when he can and tells me when and where I am showing next. Willie is now my Obedience/Rally dog, and Patty is my up-and-coming conformation dog. (Willie will return to the conformation ring as a veteran next year. I can hardly believe I've had him almost six years already!)

    Crazy fun hobby.
    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom

  • #2
    In 1973, I bought a norwegian elkhound "puppy in the window" in a pet store while buying dog supplies for our farm dogs.
    She was 4 months old and, you know the story, the last one left of a litter, I am sure from a puppy mill.
    In those days, few knew about puppy mills.

    Took her to our vet for her first shots and he said "oh, my, another pain in the a.. dog! You better take her to some obedience classes.
    Those are very stubborn, contrary dogs if you don't train them."

    Never had heard of obedience, he gave me a name, the fellow was an absolutely wonderful trainer, bred GSD that he was showing in conformation and obedience and trained police dogs and police dog handlers and gave seminars for them all over the nation.
    He was a wonderful teacher and mentor.
    The rest is history.

    I had several dogs in obedience, a rottie in conformation.
    Later agility started, so we did that too.
    All that while helping form our local performance dog club, that became AKC licensed in 1978 and today puts on an obedience/rally and two agility shows a year and holds all kinds of dog training classes for the public and has programs for schools and library "Reading with Rover" and therapy certification classes for Delta and TI and CGC.

    At one time, since we had border collies working our cattle, we also trained for herding trials, learning from a local, very successful breeder/handler

    Being part of the dog world you find great people, as passionated as horse people are.
    Unlike with horses, you can do what you can with dogs, but if you have other come up in your life, your dog is still laying at your feet at home.
    You don't have to sell your dog when you don't have time/finances for it, as you do with horses.
    Horses are a more time, energy and financially expensive part of our lives than dogs are.
    Many former horse people end up in dogs.

    Comment


    • #3
      To replace horses while disabled

      I launched into dogs when horses had to end due to my back disability. I hope I can one day ride again, but maybe not.

      Dog sports has given me an outlet for my time and energy, a sense of purpose and focus, busied up my free time after ending a longterm relationship, and provided a greater social network.

      My aunt competed Aussies in OB; I handled one of her dogs as a pre-teen. It was a disaster with the dog bolting out of the ring and me crying, weekend after weekend. But I still liked it enough to go back as an adult. Waking up in the wee early morning, stopping for coffee when the roads are deserted, pulling up to Tent City and walking your dog through the field-turned-parking-lot when the grass is wet and icy... I just love it.

      Verrrrry similar to horse trials. But dog trials are something I can afford and hopefully achieve success in despite limited resources and a physical disability.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think my story has to be the most coincidental. We got a Brittany puppy after my husband saw the litter in *gasp* a cardboard box on the street. It's true. Breeder was delivering a puppy to someone and brought the last 3 to let him choose. Not a bad breeder but I guess he needed to move the puppies along...

        Dh went home and told me about the last 2 puppies and we headed to the bookstore to do some research, and decided we could handle it, and that weekend we got our first puppy. He was sold as "pet quality" only (out of a pretty decent, hunting bred litter) and we never gave it another thought.

        Fast forward about 2 years when we took him to be groomed at a local grooming shop, and the woman working there just happened to be a nationally known Brittany breeder/handler. She had finished this dog's father and thought we definitely should show him.

        So I went to my first show - right into the Open Dog class - at the local club specialty. Nothing like easing into it....nope, let's show against 25 other dogs even if you don't know what Winners Dog means. Needless to say we lost that day.

        Anyway...ended up putting 5 points on him and let the local handler finish him. Got a 2nd Brittany from a friend of hers (looking to place her pick puppy in a pet, possibly show home) not long afterwards although he very quickly outgrew the standard (by 3 inches )

        Then we waited several years (8?) to get our next puppy (too busy with kids, horses, houses, etc.), and got in touch with the same local breeder and ended up with our little guy (now 2) who is turning out to be a fantastic show dog.

        If we'd brought that 1st dog to Petsmart for grooming, it would never have happened.

        Comment


        • #5
          My friend bred my boy. I told her if he turned out to be show quality, I'd have her show him. So that's what we're doing. I will say though that I look forward to the day he finishes and I can shave him down again (miniature poodle). All this hair is a huge pain!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            This is how I got into conformation showing:

            1) I bought a show-quality puppy from breeders who handle their own dogs and are supportive of me doing the same. Cole's breeders are an invaluable resource; I can trust their advice because they are personally vested in our success, so to speak. The only down side is that neither of Cole's breeders are local to me.

            2) While Cole was a wee pup, I researched dog trainers in the area looking specifically for someone who offered show handling classes as well as the more traditional basic obedience classes. I was very lucky in finding someone who not only teaches, but also owns and shows English Setters (very important because I knew she'd understand the sensitive setter temperament AND grooming requirements.)

            Finding a local mentor/trainer and taking classes to learn is crucial. There's a lot to it; showmanship, breed specific handling and grooming, what to wear, how to enter, the point system, etc.

            3) I watched shows. If you've never shown before, trust me: you're going to want to have a feel for how shows run before you step into the ring yourself. Poke around on InfoDog to find shows near you. You can watch videos on Youtube too, both of classes from shows and handling instruction.

            4) I attended some meetings for the regional Irish Setter club and then became a member, for additional support.

            5) My first show was a "match" show (think "schooling" show: no points for winners, and attire is casual, but the classes run the same way so perfect for learning.)

            When you are ready to go to the big shows, more than likely you will be in the ring with professional handlers and amongst some people who take showing very seriously. Don't be intimidated. Everybody there was new at some point! The more prepared you are, the more fun you will have!

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for all the info, everyone!

              I never gave dog showing much thought (being rather busy with horse showing, of course) but about 2 years ago we got our first purebred dog, completely fell in love with the breed, went to watch a few dog shows just to see what it was like... and it all seems like something I would enjoy. We've always done obedience classes with our dogs, and I enjoy that just as much as lessons on my horse - so it seems like a good fit!

              The 'someday' part comes in because of DH's military career - we are still moving every 2-3 years, so finding dog pros to work with and joining a breed club and such might be tricky (and there isn't really a lot of dog training/dog showing activity local to us at this time).

              The breeder of our puppy has a long and quite successful history in the conformation ring, and sometimes has show prospect puppies for sale or part ownership, so I'm sure we'll continue our relationship with them as we go. But just as I would advise someone interested in horse showing to do their homework, I am interested in learning as much as possible before we decide to give it a try ourselves!

              So, some questions: Do you guys show every weekend? Once a month? How do you decide what level of involvement to pursue?

              Broadly, what are the expenses like for you? (Comparable to horse showing at a certain level? More? Less?)

              Are any of you also involved in breeding, or do you just do the show side?

              Are some breeds/groups more competitive than others? Did that have any impact on your decision to have and show the dogs you do? (Just curious. We are madly in love with Airedale Terriers and I'm not sure we'll ever have anything else, so if we ever venture into the show ring, it will be with a 'dale.)

              Again, thanks for sharing your experiences!

              Comment


              • #8
                Great questions - and it will vary a lot, but a great start:

                Originally posted by outside__line View Post
                So, some questions: Do you guys show every weekend? Once a month? How do you decide what level of involvement to pursue?
                To finish my dog's championship I showed him approximately one weekend/month for about 7-8 months. Sometimes more, sometimes less, and some of that was because at the end I only needed a major so I didn't bother entering shows that were unlikely to produce one. I am lucky that there are a lot of shows near me, and one major venue is close enough to go back and forth. So I've done a combination of overnight shows and back and forth shows.

                One big factor in deciding on how much to show is how good your dog is. If they are really fantastic, you may finish a championship quickly and then you may want to take a break before entering him in the BOB class. It really depends on what you want to do - some people are happy to take 3 years to finish a championship; other people want to do it straight through and then do something else (field trials, agility, etc.)

                Originally posted by outside__line View Post
                Broadly, what are the expenses like for you? (Comparable to horse showing at a certain level? More? Less?)
                I don't really show horses much but it should be way less. The actual show entry (excluding shows like Westminster) is around $30/day. So a 3 day show is ~$100 in entry fees. Other things you have to pay for are leads, treats, your own show clothes, grooming, and gas/meals/lodging for yourself. If I go back and forth to a show I really only pay for entries, gas & food...my breeder grooms for very little and I keep him groomed up so it's cheaper. Obviously if you have a handler, you have to pay them, and grooming is usually factored into that as well.

                How much you spend on dog shows is really up to you - you can pack a cooler and stay at the Super 8 if you have to travel, or you can stay at a nicer hotel and get room service or go out to eat. I have done both because sometimes it's just more fun.

                Originally posted by outside__line View Post
                Are any of you also involved in breeding, or do you just do the show side?
                I don't breed but am very close to my dog's breeder. When we're ready, I will let her make some breeding decisions with me. He's a dog, so it's easier.

                Originally posted by outside__line View Post
                Are some breeds/groups more competitive than others? Did that have any impact on your decision to have and show the dogs you do? (Just curious. We are madly in love with Airedale Terriers and I'm not sure we'll ever have anything else, so if we ever venture into the show ring, it will be with a 'dale.)
                I don't think the right word is "competitive" - they are all equally competitive. But some breeds tend to have a lot more owner/handlers - not exactly sure why. My breed (Brittany) has a LOT of owner handlers. It's a great breed to choose if you want to show your own dog because it's very common, especially in the classes. I don't really know how often or successfully Airedales are shown by owner/handlers, but that's a great question to ask your breed club members, etc. Also you can figure a lot of that out using infodog.com by looking to see whether the dogs list an "agent".

                Again, thanks for sharing your experiences![/QUOTE]

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm enjoying reading this! Every year I watch WKC and every year I think that dogs would be fun to show, but I always end up with pound puppies of one variety of another.

                  I need to find Sussex or Clumber people I can learn from (while sitting on a waiting list; of course the breeds I love are rare but then since the point of confo is breeding animals, I'd rather go with one where there aren't a lot already. Why, yes, I also get the ALBC newsletter and want rare-breed poultry, why do you ask?)
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                    I'm enjoying reading this! Every year I watch WKC and every year I think that dogs would be fun to show, but I always end up with pound puppies of one variety of another.

                    I need to find Sussex or Clumber people I can learn from (while sitting on a waiting list; of course the breeds I love are rare but then since the point of confo is breeding animals, I'd rather go with one where there aren't a lot already. Why, yes, I also get the ALBC newsletter and want rare-breed poultry, why do you ask?)
                    I love Clumbers. I saw two Clumber puppies at a show this year. Sooo cute!!

                    Just one word of caution about showing a rare-ish breed. You only get points when you beat other dogs, and you'll need two majors, which means you have to beat a "decent number" of dogs (how many depends on the breed). If there are very few dogs to compete against, you'll a) compete against the same dogs all the time (which is tough if one of them is better than yours); and b) will have to travel more to get your points.

                    It's not a bad thing, it's just something to know. The opposite of that is also bad - showing Goldens must be the most frustrating thing because every time you step in the ring you're in there for 30 minutes or more. At least with my breed, if you lose, you're done pretty quickly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Given how long I'd have to wait for a puppy, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it! I had to laugh at the Sussex people's 'things you should know' list, with the warning "Will bark at people coming to the door, but may bark at things like a leaf falling off a tree" and I'm thinking "Clearly, you have never lived with a Pembroke" (I swear Tucker was barking at the falling snow. Why? In her doggy mind, I'm sure it made sense...her, I can't show, because she's a pound puppy of unknown breeding, and though she's clearly a pure Pembroke she's a really bad example. Too big, too prone to fat, and bad confo on her back legs.)

                      My only concern about Clumbers is some, not all, are droolers, and that's not high on my list of desirable dog traits. Though a Clumber would probably suit Tucker's energy level (energetic but not exactly a jogging partner.) Puff is more of a "LET'S WALK TO SOUTH BEND!" type.
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                      • #12
                        I got into showing conformation during college. My family had always had dogs, participated in obedience. I decided I wanted to get into agility as well and wanted a belgian tervuren. I was on a waitlist for a year for my first puppy. The breeder participates in conformation/obedience/agility/tracking/herding. Basically her dogs are all around but she has national speciality winners. My male was sold as a pet because he had too much white on his chest. As he matured the white became less obvious. She asked me to show in conformation because she really liked him.

                        He was my first conformation dog. So with him it took about two years to finish him. Mulitple reasons-couldn't show often because of school, a breed that is is hard to find majors in, and well I had no clue what I was doing. My guy is VERY high energy. So the first year in the ring we spent most of our time bouncing everywhere. He went to a lot of classes and was well behaved, but it was soooo exciting to have everyone watching him! Once we figured it out he finished quite quickly.
                        My female finished in 5 or 6 shows. She was easy. Took back to back majors when out of coat. She was just entered to help build a major that wekend, needless to say that was a suprise.

                        I didn't think I would like it to start, did it as a favor to the breeder. Now, I love it. I also do obedience and agility, but will always want mine to have conformation and performance titles

                        To get started
                        -find a good breeder who will mentor you. My breeder is 12 hours away, but she helps me pick shows, judges, etc. And she can refer me to local people to help me.
                        -be willing to wait for a good puppy, like I said I waited a year for my first guy, second terv kinda fell into my lap from same breeder
                        -go to shows first and learn the ropes
                        -some breeds owners are friendly then others. The terv people are awesome, helpful, just very welcoming, My mom shows afghans and I have seen people be at the show and pull their dog to break a major-yuck
                        -find handling classes, while it might look easy there is a lot of training involved.
                        -Use matches for practice
                        -Don't be afraid to enter shows to get experience, with my male I often entered him knowing he wasn't ready coat wise, etc. But we needed to the experience, so I would look at it as training

                        Costs
                        -well obviously cost puppy, vet care, etc
                        -grooming if you can't do it on your own
                        -classes-our club charges $5/class, just come when you want
                        -shows, about $30/day, handling fees if you aren't showing your dog, vary, but prob $50-75/day
                        -supplies-grooming, leads, etc You will find you quickly amass lots of stuff you just have to have
                        -gas, travelling, etc

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