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Newbie with possibly a record-breaking list of questions

Discussion in 'Getting Started in Conformation' started by blaiseshimmer, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. blaiseshimmer

    blaiseshimmer Forums Regular

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    (WARNING: This will be long)
    Hi everyone - We recently came home with a beautiful pile of blue merle fluff and sheltitude in the form of little Kelby. His breeder, who also shows in AKC, as well as his sire's breeder, both feel that this puppy could be a good show prospect. The reason the puppy isn't staying with either breeder is due to space in their homes and kennels.

    We drove 500 miles each way to pick up the puppy, so while the breeder has been wonderful answering as many questions as possible, we (mostly ME, since my husband, a merchant marine, is set to head out to sea for the next 4-6 months) will need to continue this endeavour on my own. We are ready for this commitment (because, like my husband reasons, I need this $hobby$ to justify his $69Camaro$...:biggrin2:)

    The puppy is 8 weeks, so we know we have time, but since we're new at this we don't want to make any early mistakes that will be impossible to correct later on. We consider the breeder we got this puppy from to be our mentor, but she's pretty far from us, though still helpful. We have a slew of questions and hope that some of you could either offer suggestions, advice or refer us to anyone who will. Some basic background:

    We are brand-new to dog shows. I used to breed and show Maine Coon cats, so I'm aware of all the drama, politics, etc., of a showhall. I'm aware of the expense, the necessity of a large vehicle to carry all the Stuff that one single cat could possibly need. But I lack that competitive win-at-all-costs gene, so if this little guy shows any potential or none at all, I won't be the one crying in the hotel room because he would fail to do anything spectacular in the ring (I will, however, be angry that no realized how perfect he will be:smile2:).

    Grooming and Those Ears: I received very detailed suggestions about the ears from both breeders, but because I had a nervous, fidgety...assistant (my husband...) that transmitted all that nervous fidgety energy to the puppy, I will need to re-do his ears again tonight after I play enough to tire him out (the puppy, not the husband...I just leave hubs with his world of warcraft and he stays quiet). As for the rest of the grooming, I survived washing/drying/poofing CATS, so I still have all the supplies. I also ordered the Barb Moss book.

    For the time being, we live along the Tx/Mx border of Texas, and the closest AKC-sanctioned conformation kennel club is located in Corpus Christi. They offer conformation classes, on TUESDAYS, which means while I cannot head up every week (2.5 hours each way) since I work fulltime, I can finagle my work schedule so the pup and I can head here at least every 2-3 weeks once he's done with his vaccines and it's safe to take him out around other dogs. I have information from the breeders, along with a ton of information from this forum, on things like stacking, walking alongside, basic handling, etc. And I know I can take videos and pictures and send them to the breeders for input, but wonder if even just a few classes would be okay - for starters?

    I also wonder if anyone has experience with the AKC 4-6 Beginner Puppy Competition, as well as the AKC National Owner-Handled Series? The reasons I ask are that there is a show that will have both in mid-May (just before my puppy hits his 6-month mark) nearby, and 'nearby' being relative, as this is Texas, so it's 3.5+/- hours. Having no idea how my puppy nor I will fare in a show, could the Puppy Competition be a nice way to start in the ring, to see if he - or more importantly, me - would be comfortable in the ring?

    Just realized how long this post is, plus I forgot lunch and I'm hungry, so I need to stop at these questions, but I hope that someone can show some sympathy and answer a few questions. :eek:
     
  2. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    sounds like you live near Brownsville- don't really know anyone in that area.
    I haven't done much in the way of conformation but I have gone to some local shows and watched people getting ready. I have also been drafted to take the leash when someone with multiple dogs needed someone to take one of the other dogs back in the ring. so just from that standpoint, I'd say classes- as many as you can get to- are a good thing. some judges will be nice to a complete newbie and explain exactly what they want, others expect you to know what to do when they say something.
    actual show grooming- not my cup of tea- way too much involved but if you did it to cats, a sheltie should be easy:winkgrin:
     
  3. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of dog shows! It's a fun hobby...I got into it late in life after 25+ years in horses. I was lucky enough to have a mentor (also on this Forum) to follow around to shows and watch, ask questions and learn. I did that for two years before I set foot in the ring...mostly because I didn't have a show dog until then.

    One of the most helpful things you can do is to watch handlers show their dogs. I realize it's demographically difficult for you to do that, so tape all the shows you can find on TV. Westminster is coming up in February, and the Groups will be on for two nights. Pay special attention to the Herding Group, but you can also learn from watching handlers with Sheltie-size dogs who use the table in the ring.

    I highly recommend a book that was my bible, called "Show Me." It's easy to read and understand, and available on Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/Show-Me-Dog-S...e=UTF8&qid=1453511129&sr=1-2&keywords=Show+Me

    I highly recommend the 4-6 month puppy classes at shows, while your pup is eligible for them. It's a great way to expose them to the show ring and get some experience yourself. The classes are more forgiving than the regular puppy classes too, I found. Enter all of those you can, but don't be afraid to try the 6-9 month puppy regular classes too. The best way for you and Kelby to learn is in the ring.

    Practice at home! Lots! Work on stacking, gaiting, stacking on the table. If you don't have a grooming table, it's a must if you're showing. You will need one to take to the shows, and you can't prep a dog at home without one. The best prices are on eBay, but you can find them on other sites too such as Pet Edge.

    Finally, there are some great instructional videos online. I like the Eric Salas videos. Here's one on table training:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCEdPrIdhPc&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

    I hope some of these help. Good luck and let us know how you progress!
     
  4. blaiseshimmer

    blaiseshimmer Forums Regular

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    Thanks for the advice! *for my round 1 questions

    I'm in the Harlingen/McAllen/Brownsville area, southernmost tip of Texas...so EVERYWHERE is far away. We moved here because of my job, but will be heading back to the northeast, hopefully before the end of the year. In the meantime, I am going to be learning and if all the planets align Just So, Kelby and I will be having a decent fun time.

    I've been watching and saving pretty much every video out there for shows. I used to just focus on Obedience since we also have a young Shiloh that we planned to take through obedience (since he's going through his teen angst stage right now, so any hopes for his therapy dog training is on hold).

    Outside of the whole worry of messing up his ears, I'm pretty sure I can handle the grooming. I still have the grooming table, forced air dryer, more brushes, scissors and combs than I have for myself. Just have to get a grooming-arm-thing, and then wonder about little sundries like the proper show-leash thing (I'm still new with all the terminology). Figuring out his official registered name seems to be the hardest part.

    Should still be fun. When it isn't, that's when we'll stop.
     
  5. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

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    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I LOVE THESE TWO COMMENTS! :yes:

    I'm aware of all the drama, politics, etc., of a showhall. But I lack that competitive win-at-all-costs gene.


    I can relate totally!!!

    I decided to go the obedience route with my first sheltie female. No one could say she was not pretty enough... although she was a real stunner!

    If she did not get the exercise correct... recal, heal position, pace... she had points deducted. I could deal with that. Her breeder was wonderful and wanted to keep her for a show dog until she decided to let me have her to show in obedience. I got a CD title on her.

    One funny side note, when I was going to two shows back to back, on on Saturday and another on Sunday with two different judges... she took second place each time... WHY NOT FIRST? Her MOM was marked off due to HER SCREW UPS!!! Each judge approached me after the class was over saying... We wanted to give your dog FIRST PLACE... BUT, you made several errors! :eek:

    My moral of the story... obedience is still showing! More fun... at least to me and my Kelsey!:biggrin2:
     
  6. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    Ah, the accessories are the fun part! Start simple with a nylon slip collar and matching lead for a puppy. When he's older, you'll want to move him into one of the chain collars. There are lots of fancy leads with beads and bling which you'll see at the shows (and can buy from the vendors) but you'll want to start with stuff as light as possible, which is why the nylon is good. I like these collars for puppies...I get a 12" for the babies. You'll probably need a 14" when he's a bit older. https://www.cherrybrook.com/cherrybrook-championship-fine-nylon-show-choke-collar/

    Cherrybrook also has matching leads for these. Not expensive and also good for training.
    https://www.cherrybrook.com/cherrybrook-championship-nylon-slide-lead/

    It sounds like you're in good shape otherwise!
     
  7. Bradt9881

    Bradt9881 Forums Enthusiast

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    A few pointers, from what I have learned over the past 2 years. One, the dog will need to be well socialized to crowded, loud places. Dog shows are noisy, scary places for a sheltie its cages banging and dogs barking. Take the puppy on frequent trips to Lowes and other dog friendly places. If possible, take it frequently to dog shows where its main job is just to sit there and absorb the scenery. Make it a fun place with lots of treats and playing. The dog needs to associate dog shows with happy fun.

    Get Barb Ross's book on how to groom shelties if you are going to groom yourself. Constantly practice on the dog until you get the hang of it. If possible, go to the sheltie club and ask to join. Use the members to teach you how to do the little details of grooming your puppy.

    Get the book Sheltie talk. It will teach you many of the things you will need to know about showing.

    Learn backwards and forwards the sheltie standard. This will give you guidance on what your dog's best attributes are, and it's flaws. There is no perfect sheltie, and even the ones that win most of the time will have flaws. Once you k ow what they are, you can use your grooming skills to help cover up some of the lesser flaws.

    The owner handler series is for dogs six months and up. It is a non titled free entry in addition to the normal entry fee. For the dog to win owner handler best of breed, it will first have to make it to the best of winners ring by being selected winners dog or winners bitch, or by already being a champion competing in the best of breed competition. It's a lot of fun. My champion has several owner handler best of breed wins and 2 group 4s since October, and I am taking him to 2 competitions for this again next weekend.

    Be prepared for a lot of losses. Don't let it discourage you. It will take a lot of trial and error to learn enough to beat the professional handlers that show in every show. They do this for a living, and show every weekend. I show maybe 1 weekend a month. It will take me a year to show my dog as much as a professional can do in 2 months.
     
  8. blaiseshimmer

    blaiseshimmer Forums Regular

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    Apr 16, 2015
    south TX
    You guys just became my backup mentors...

    Thanks for all the input and encouragement.

    I had to pull off (gently, with barely any loss of hair) Kelby's ear training setup. Still, was surprised at how quickly those little ears perked up. I'm going to set them again in the morning after I return from Puppy 2 class with my Shiloh (he showed such promise:rolleyes2:, then puberty/dumbness hit at 6 months and we're still struggling).

    The shows are going to be the biggest obstacle at this time. Since we moved to TX over a decade ago, we learned to think of a normal drive as lasting HOURS, so for me to schlep for a day is no big deal. So as often as I can I will head to shows in the San Antonio and Houston areas, even though both will also entail me staying at a hotel. But I can chalk this up to continuing my learning. Odd question (I will have many in the future) as long as Kelby is old enough, all his shots in order, can I bring him along even if he's not going to be shown, to at least get him used to the show area?

    As for the training, I'm going to see if I can at least begin a correspondence with ANY member of the conformation club in Corpus, so I can hope to practice with Kelby when I can't make it to Corpus.

    And I need to figure out a name. It sounds silly, but he's also a funky color, so we want to name him to highlight it. His sire is a tri, mom is a 'harliquen' (sp) bi-blue and he's a blue merle, but most of him is black and white (one of his littermates is a tri, two are bi-blacks), so from what I can gather, he's very likely a cryptic blue. With a pair of LUNGS...sheesh, my last sheltie, Lir, was a mute compared to this little guy.

    Love all this, and I need to save these posts so I can look back, in the future, on the days that I get overwhelmed.
     
  9. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

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    You generally can, but it's best to check the premium list for the show (this can be downloaded from the superintendent, which you will find listed on the AKC site when you search for events).

    For my two cent's worth (and this is going to get long, and general, and not entirely personal to you, but bear with me), I think you would be extremely well-served to visit Sheltie specialties, with or without your puppy in tow. These are shows held by Sheltie clubs, just for Shelties. They will typically have a Sheltie breeders judging, and the quality and quantity of entries is generally higher than at an all-breed show. (They are also usually a great deal quieter, so they're a better place to bring a young puppy along.)

    There are two specialties in Selma, TX (outside San Antonio) in February, and two more in Austin in March (scroll down on the linked page to find the info). Specialties tend to be held before May or after September, so I encourage you to consider visiting one or both of these.

    If you do decide to visit a specialty, here are two more of my cents: do a little homework and read the breed standard, as Brad suggests. Then read it again. Take the time to really work through each of the points of the standard, and try to visualize the dog that is being described. (Don't try to compare your puppy to it at this point; he's young and you're learning.)

    When you go to the show, bring a chair to sit in and look for someone who is sitting outside the ring with a show catalog in hand, just watching dogs. There are usually a few people at any given specialty who don't have a dog to show (or have someone else handling their dogs) and who will happily sit and study the dogs all day. A person who is standing and watching will soon need to go work on a dog; a person who doesn't have a catalog is probably as lost as you are. A person who is wearing an apron or holding a leash is working, and should be left to it. Look instead for someone who appears to be settled in for the duration.

    If you find this settled-in person and politely introduce yourself as a novice, they should be willing to talk to you about what is going on in the ring, and what makes the dogs different from each other. And because you have read and re-read and digested the standard, you will be able to follow along and (hopefully) see what the judge is looking for.

    But Tofu Pup, you say, Do I really need to drive three hours and watch Shelties go around the ring all day long? Well, no - but I think it will help you start to understand how dog shows work, how judging works, and what makes a Sheltie. On a given day at a specialty, you will see maybe fifty or seventy-five dogs. On the next day, you will see the same dogs - but under a different judge, and on a different day. A month later at an all-breed, you will see fifteen more dogs, some you've seen before, some new, all a little different. And the more dogs you look at, the more you will see what sets them apart from each other, and the more you will understand.

    But Tofu Pup, you say, I really just want to learn how to show my puppy. And you will! You've gotten some great advice already. But I think it's also important to give yourself the opportunity to learn not just how to show your puppy, but how to really evaluate and "see" a show Sheltie.

    Many novice owners try conformation, and they start much the way you have. They may later buy a second dog, to show and breed, and maybe a third. They have some wins and some losses - more losses than wins, especially at first - and they get discouraged, because that's what happens.

    I think what separates the ones who stop showing from the ones who stick with it is that the folks in the latter group come to understand how to look at a dog. The game expands, it goes meta: it's not about their individual Sheltie, but about Shelties as a larger whole; not about the dog they have today, but the dog they are striving for (whether through better grooming and presentation or through breeding better dogs).

    A person can certainly show their puppy and have a lot of fun. (Indeed, this is how most people get bitten by the "show bug".) But I encourage you, and any novice, to spend some time just watching the dogs, and watching some more.

    I wish very much that you lived near me, because at my local shows these days I am often the person who is settled in for the day and watching the dogs, catalog in hand. I would be happy to have you sit next to me. But I am sure that you will find someone not so different at your shows, too.
     
  10. Bradt9881

    Bradt9881 Forums Enthusiast

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    If you want to have some fun studying about 500 shelties at a specialty, set aside some time in April to fly to Reno for the ASSA Nationals. You will also get to meet a lot of the breeders that are producing some of the top shelties in the country, and there will be a lot of vendors there selling equipment. You might find the travel kennel you have been looking for, or a new set of brushes, etc.
     

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