This past weekend, Tom and I took Chica and Cooper to the Western Waukesha Dog Training Club in Ixonia, Wisconsin for a series of UKC shows. Over the two days there were four shows, under four judges; two per day. Of course, Pre rode along, even though he wasn't entered! I think I've spoiled him, as he thinks that he must be in the van if it is going somewhere! Actually, first he looks in and steals a toy or bite pillow and runs around with it, but if the crate is open he will just jump in. I think if he could start the car himself, he would!
So, off we went. From past experience, we know to get there very early, as soon as same-day registrations open, so that we can find a spot to park our chairs and crates for the day. Things fill up very rapidly and early. If you have never attended such a show, it is hard to imagine how close the quarters are. You hope that sensible people will leave at least a small aisle to weave through from chairs to ringside, but this is often not the case. On Day 2, Cooper jumped on a softsided crate trying to follow me through the maze and likely scared the crap out of the small dog inside. oops. A dog has to be very stable and not aggressive to humans or other dogs to be in this environment. I was very pleased with both Chica and Cooper, who settled into their soft-sided crates and went to sleep.
We camped next to the Northern Breeds, and there were quite a few Alaskan Klee Kai's there. They are cute little dogs that look like miniature huskies. Someone else likened their unusual noises to the sound of "an alien being run through a wood chipper!" We weren't treated to that, but one made a noise that sound just like a baby crying! They are a wash and wear breed and were quite cute! The people exhibiting them were clearly experienced and so I asked them quite a few questions and they were very friendly folks.
I was surprised to see another Dutch Shepherd entered! This was a lighter colored brindle female, imported from Holland. I chatted with the owner, whom I know. In the ring, this female beat Chica in both shows on Saturday. I so rarely compete in conformation that it is like coming out for the first time, every time! I run the wrong direction, I don't stop when I'm supposed to... I'm a complete klutz. In the second show, I let my friend, Tammy, handle Chica, figuring she couldn't do any worse than I did! Ha! I was wrong! (sorry, Tammy!) But still, it wasn't a big deal as Tammy had never done this, either, and everyone has to start somewhere. Chica truly didn't show herself as well as we were all working out the kinks in our handling, and the other competitor is an experienced show handler and did a much better job. I just considered that, and that the judge perhaps felt Chica was too small or just wasn't moving well enough to judge. There was nothing to be angry over, that's just the way show judging goes.
Next Cooper competed against the winning female. In both shows, he beat the female. I am prejudiced, of course, but Cooper is a good looking dog, very full of expression and correct according to standard. The other gal left immediately after the second win. Cooper continued to Group, where he took 4th in Group in the second show. I was so surprised and thrilled!
I did hear a very nice thing as I was waiting near the registration table. An exhibitor, who is also a judge, was cautioning a woman with a small child about certain dogs there to steer clear of and I said "but not the Dutch Shepherds!" The woman said that she loves Dutch Shepherds and that she didn't know who it was, but she had seen one years ago here that was just wonderful. I asked it that was here, and whether it was a grey dog. It was my Digit! It just made me smile to think he had made such an impression.
On Sunday, the woman did not reappear. The judges offered handling tips and I was very appreciative and thanked them. Tom handled Chica and he did such a good job that she beat Cooper in the second show of the day!! I was very impressed, watching her move around the ring. She was beautiful and moved so smoothly. At the moment, I thought the win prevented Cooper from earning his Championship and Tom apologized. I said "what for? you did a GREAT job!" There is no way I would diminish his effort and how well they did together, by being upset with that. I later discovered that Cooper had enough points anyway.
An unusual thing happened, though. In the second ring, the judge had stopped and said she wanted to say something. I thought she was going to share more handling tips and waited. Instead, she said she had received an email complaining about the judging and alleging that the judges did not know what they were doing, and that my dog, Cooper, had a "gay tail" and was a poor representative of the breed! I couldn't believe it! The judge was clearly insulted and upset and referred to the many years she had been judging and that she had examined the tails and that our dogs were excellent breed specimens. My mouth was probably hanging wide open, as I just could not imagine another exhibitor doing such a thing! wow! Then the judge added that they were discussing the fact that the other dog in the class yesterday had been DYED!! Tom had neglected to tell me that the day before, after the judge examined the dogs she was looking at her hands and said "I have dye on my hands!!"( For the record, that handler has since protested that she did not dye the dog.) For the life of me, I don't know why you would do that, as it had nothing to do with structure.
It was an interesting end to the weekend, for sure. I had talked at length to the other exhibitor who smiled and chatted, only to have to pull a knife out of my back the next day! The good part is that the other folks we encountered there were friendly and helpful, and I really had a good time. It's only a silly, cheap ribbon and two initials before the dog's name. It is not the end of the world, nor the beginning, and at the end of the day, you should still love the dog you arrived with. I fear this is not true about this other woman, and that is a very sad thing.
I was proud of my dogs because they showed stability and confidence in a very strange environment and they did something foreign to them because I asked them to. If neither had won, I would still have been proud of them. I might decide conformation showing just wasn't their cup of tea, but it would not have made me angry or disappointed in the dogs themselves. If you feel differently, please spare us all and just go buy your own ribbon!
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