Friday, May 19, 2006

It's Showtime!

York County Kennel Club of Maine, 5/7/06

After finishing Seamus's RN title the day before at this show, I came to the Sunday half of the show with a carload of equipment, a snappy new suit, a freshly cleaned puppy, and more than a little trepidation. For years I'd snickered at conformation as a dog sport. It didn't require any real skill, right? All you did was dress up and trot around the ring, and the judge picked the handler -- er, I mean picked the dog. It struck me as more like buying lottery tickets, only you had to run around.

As I pulled my show-crap-filled car into the parking lot, it hit me that I'd never needed even remotely this amount of stuff to go out and do performance events. Maybe there was more to this conformation stuff than I thought -- and what if I had all the wrong stuff?

Dinah and I had had to arrive at the show site at approximately oh-dark-hundred that morning. I'd volunteered to help by stewarding in the obedience trial, and I'd been assured that I'd be able to finish up there in plenty of time to show Dinah.

Fast-forward to after the obedience trial. Dinah and I walked around the show grounds so she could see what was going on. She never showed the slightest sign of fear or even nervousness (unlike her owner). She just took everything in, and rested peaceably in her crate when we weren't walking.

My Beardie buddies had set up in one of the grooming areas closest to our ring. Bless their hearts, they'd saved space for me to set up my grooming table and Dinah's crate. They groomed, I brushed the wood shavings out of Dinah's butt-fur, and we all chattered until...


Since we were the only puppy entry in Bitches, we watched the dog judging (one dog in Open, one in Bred-By)... and then it was our turn! All those weeks and months of worrying, and now it was down to this! I led Dinah into the ring and stammered, "This is our first time in this ring." The judge smiled, replied "Me, too," (he was kidding -- the guy's judged Beardies in the past), and asked us to go around the ring to our judging position. In the back of my head, I heard Tracy's voice say, "Thumbs up!" We loped around the ring, and neither of us tripped the other.

I must admit that I'm very proud of my little Dinah-mo. She never sat down in the ring, she remained alert and focused the whole time, and she let the nice judge examine her teeth without wiggling, jumping up on him, or rolling over on her back. We gaited, we did our circuit of the ring, and we cruised to a halt in front of him.

"First," he said. Of course, we were the only entry in the class, so there wasn't much we could have done to not take first, but hey... a blue ribbon is a blue ribbon, and it was Dinah's first.

We didn't place at all in bitch judging, but I didn't care. I'd survived our first time in the show ring! We could brag to our breeder and the owner of Dinah's litter sister. Best of all, it was over!

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