Friday, May 19, 2006

Handling Classes

If I plan to do anything with this dog show game, I'll have to learn some techniques. To that end, I've started taking private or semi-private lessons with Tracy over at .

Like most people in the dog fancy, Tracy's a morning person. I have no idea how she manages to be so chipper while the clock is still showing single digits.

Our first private lesson wasn't exactly a disaster, but we weren't exactly ready to take on Westminster, either. Sue and I had joked in puppy class about Dinah's insistence on heeling on my right. "It had to be because they drive on the wrong side of the road where she comes from." I'd made some headway working with her and luring her along on my left side with a treat. At handling class, though, Dinah kept wiggling and crossing into my path to get to my right side.

Standing for exam was more "pick her up off the ground and hold her up for exam." Dinah's generally eager to please, but she definitely didn't think much of this new game. At least she had fun circling our "ring" a few times. As for me, my back ached from running half bent over.

There's so much to remember between where to hold the leash and when, how to keep one's distance, when to present a profile after going down and backm how to hold a wiggly puppy still for the exam, and so on. I'm not coordinated on a good day and I stink at memorizing stuff on the fly and under pressure.

Our first few sessions were private -- just Tracy, Dinah, and me. As the time for our first show grew nearer, though, Tracy had me switch our lesson time to an even earlier slot so we could practice working with another dog/handler team.

We were introduced to Deb and Ruckus. Ruckus is a Flat-Coated Retriever puppy, somewhere around a year or 18 months old. Deb has another Flatcoat, Dan, who is currently being shown by a handler... but she decided to take Ruckus in herself, and so she's really just as much of a newbie in the ring as I am. She's far better coordinated than I am, though, and her puppy is older. He's taller, too, so she gets to stand straight up.

Of course, Dinah and Ruckus wanted to play immediately, but Deb and I had to squelch that. Much as we'd love to let these two play, we don't want them to think that they're able to play with the other puppies in the ring. (Of course, since we're the only entry in 6-9 Puppy and she and Ruckus are the only entry in Flatcoats, it might be a while before we actually have to worry about company in the ring.)

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