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To show or not to show

Discussion in 'Handling Chat' started by corbinam, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

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    So I know we’ve all heard that the breed ring is political. And now that I’ve dipped my toe in, people keep warning me that my fellow competitors are not the friendliest. I haven’t personally experienced any negativity thrown my way, but I have seen some poor sportsmanship ringside.

    Apparently Elise is what some people refer to as a “closet puppy”. She is slow to mature, and likely won’t finish (all fingers crossed) until she’s closer to 3. She’s small, and definitely in the coyote stage at 21 weeks.

    I’m wondering the benefits vs drawbacks of showing her once she turns 6 months. On the plus side, we both (mostly me!) could use some ring-time. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, practice grooming and just get comfortable with the routine. On the negative side, she’s going to look so silly out there with 6-9 month puppy flyers. I don’t want to get made fun of or feel stupid out there.

    So what to do?

    Note that we do have a show planned for late August (she’ll be 7 months old) where she will be showing with her brother who will be handled by her breeder.

    Photos attached are recent.
     

    Attached Files:

    ghggp likes this.
  2. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

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    Ashley, I have often heard that everybody is your friend...until you show against them. But you know, I have met some amazing people in conformation (disclaimer: I don't show, but scads of my friends do). I personally think that many folks who lose and claim "politics" don't realize the skill it takes to present a dog well. The best (like Julie Desy, Zana Friend, Jessica Starbuck, Greg Speeks, Terry Jennings, the great Tom Coen, our own Tofu Pup) have honed their skills for years. The know how to get a Sheltie to sparkle, to move in the most elegant way. They can position a dog to highlight its virtues and minimize its flaws. The groom better than the best stylists in Hollywood and can flatter their dogs' strengths to draw the judge's eye where they want it to focus. And the very best know that the judge is looking for the best dog on the day -- and not every day is your day, so they lose as well as win with good grace. I've met some jerks, too (no names this time!), but they're blessedly relatively few. Yes, someone may be snarky -- just flash your gorgeous smile and say, "Thank you!" They'll be so confused, it's better than a snappy comeback.

    So jump in. I don't know who your mentor is, but let him or her guide you. Take that puppy around with pride. Let people know you're a newbie and just learning. Late bloomers can be a lot of fun -- you have the fun of training them, and when they bloom, you zoom! I know you -- you'll get a reputation as being sweet, friendly, enthusiastic and a great sport. Always thank the judge and act like you're listening pleasantly to every wise (and idiotic) piece of advice. Run all advice through your mentor. But don't take every new idea of recommendation to heart -- ply a slow and steady course, reminding yourself that it's the learning and the fun with your dog that counts. I suspect Elise won't be your last show dog, so have a ball!!

    PM me if you want.
     
  3. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    Most of my puppies are late bloomers too, Ashley. My Lacey was an ugly duckling until she was nearly 4...then I looked at her one day and she was gorgeous! It took years and a litter of puppies to mature her, but it was worth waiting for. That's the quality that holds...the puppy flyers you see in the ring frequently have a short shelf life. They grow into adults who aren't nearly as nice as they were and they disappear from the ring never to be seen again. I've seen this more times than I can count.

    My advice to you is this: Keep showing Elise. She needs coat, but that will come. Learn to use some of the products that will make her look fluffier and full. Aim for smaller shows and avoid specialties and big venues for now. I learned the hard way that putting a puppy away to grow up can backfire big time. When Ruffles was six months old, I put her away to mature. It wasn't very long, but when I brought her to a show again my previously bold and confident Best in Match puppy had decided she hated the show ring. She's been a basket case ever since and I don't show her now for that reason.

    So stick with it, enjoy yourself and ignore the naysayers. Tell them you're new and this is practice for you and your puppy. Go out and have fun, and make it fun for her. In the end, that's all that matters and no matter what, you get to go home with your girl.
     
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  4. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

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    Thank you both so much! I need to work on getting a thicker skin, and keeping my emotions in check. I was witness to a very unsportsmanlike interaction between two "big names" and was very disappointed. I'll have to remember Chris' advice..."Thank you!" -- it's perfect :)

    But you are absolutely right, Chris, that those big names are SO good at this. I know how hard they have worked to get where they are. I just hope they remember that everyone has to start somewhere!

    It's also a little tough for me because my mentor is so far away (MN)! I've been learning as much as I can reading online, watching others, etc. I'm looking forward to showing in MN to try to absorb every little tidbit. I'm also in a wonderful conformation class with a really experienced teacher. Unfortunately, he's in french bulldogs! :) Luckily Elise doesn't have much hair to groom, so it's a good place to start learning.

    Thanks again for the encouragement from both of you. Onwards and upwards!
     
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  5. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Forums Enthusiast

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    Just be yourself and have fun, that's why you are in this, right? Elise is so pretty to my eye - I'm sure she will blossom into a beautiful young lady. And Ann is right, at the end of the day, you go home with your wonderful pup!!
     
    Chris likes this.
  6. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

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    For what it's worth, I think your puppy looks good right now, in those photos.

    I think you have more to gain (practice for puppy, practice for you, socialization) than to lose at this point. Dog people generally aren't downright mean, especially if you're a novice. Just go and do your puppy up and show her. It should be obvious to people that this is your first show puppy and that you are doing your best.

    If she is nicely made and nicely trained, she may do well, even if she doesn't have a lot of coat.

    You will also gain a lot by being at the show and just watching the dogs being judged. Go ahead and watch the other breeds, too. Hang out. Every dog you look at is a tiny piece of data added to what will become your ability to evaluate. This ability takes a lot of data to build, so I encourage you to take every opportunity you can.

    PS. Chris, you seriously flatter me. I don't know that I merit inclusion in that list, but I'm touched that you think I do!
     
    Chris likes this.
  7. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

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    Corbinam, Just wondering...

    I know the goal in obedience is to have the dog heal at your side and always sit when you stop.
    Confirmation dogs need to run in from of you and never sit!

    Seems like totally contradictory to me and therefore confusing to the dog... thoughts?

    Good luck showing confirmation... I have also heard: breed ring is political!
    You are brave to enter into the conformation ring... my skin is too thin I fear!
    On the other hand, who cares as long as long as you and your dog are having fun, right?
     
    Hanne likes this.
  8. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

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    I saw you Veterans with Annie at the National and make the second cut for BOB. You are that good!
     
  9. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Premium Member

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    I've been teaching Finnie obedience and conformation together and while I do find he wants to sit at times, I've also taught him the stand command. I figure Shelties are smart enough to be taught both. Besides, you won't be penalized if they sit in the show ring lol.
     
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  10. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Premium Member

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    I think Elise looks great right now! I think I'm fortunate that my mentor (Finnie's breeder) is so close...just 30 minutes away, and takes part in all the local shows. I also belong to our local Sheltie group and this allows me to meet most of the local breeders...this helps as we all group ourselves together at the shows with our tables.
    I have found that even in obedience there are those who would rather see you fail than do well but they're few and far between. I've found most, if not all dog people are VERY supportive (back in April when I'd entered Piper in Altered there were people who were congratulating me on getting a puppy whom I hadn't told lol).
    I would say listen to the advice your given but take all of it with a grain of salt. Most people genuinely want to help and perhaps you could try to get another Sheltie person to help you.
    I got the best piece of advice from an obedience person when I'd entered Piper in pre novice back when he was a year old (he did horribly), but she went out of her way to try to help me and explain who I should go to for help. I would suggest that you try (if possible) to set up as close to a Sheltie group as you can, Sheltie peeps are like their dogs...they're friendly and easy to talk to.
    Good luck and don't let the negative people bring you down, you can do this!
     

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