(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 $69Camaro$...) 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). 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.