Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Public Service Announcement

If you live in the Kittery, Maine area, read on. Otherwise, feel free to skip this posting.

On Thursday, April 3, from 6-8 PM, Kittery Adult Education is offering a class on dog showing, both conformation and obedience. For the conformation part of the program, Karen Bruno (who grooms and handles Cocker Spaniels and Australian Terriers) will talk about dog shows and breeding. For the obedience part, obedience instructor Sue Walsh (who shows Cocker Spaniels in obedience) will speak about training and showing in obedience.

Cost: $10 for Kittery residents, $12 for non-residents.

To register, call 207-439-5896.

Friday, February 22, 2008

So a Funny Thing Happened...

Remember last week when for ? Well, things get even better from there.

I did know that Ask Dog Lady was syndicated -- unlike yours truly, Monica the Dog Lady is a real, honest-to-goodness journalist -- but I had no idea how many papers run the column. Of course I saw the version on her Web site. When she sent me the link to the , I was pleased. I also thought that was the end of it.

Next thing I knew, I received an email from David Simmons, a fellow Beardie owner who also happens to work at the same company I do. "YOU have been blogged," said the subject line. His email pointed me to . It seems he saw -- and he's in NC! Another friend from Salem, OR picked up the same article on Google Alerts and shared the link with the BeardieList. The whole thing is mushrooming -- wow! Monica never told me just how famous she is -- but I must admit I'm enjoying the ride on her coattails!

Wouldn't it just figure, though, that my 15 minutes of fame would be spent discussing dog poop?

A Couple of Related Shout-Outs

I had the pleasure of talking today with Bianca, a fourth-year journalism student at Northeastern -- so a shout-out goes to her. Bianca keeps a , and she contacted me to talk after interviewing Monica. Monica suggested she talk to me next. (Thanks again and another shout-out to Monica for that!)

We talked about a variety of subjects ranging from old media to new media, from blogs to dogs to Web design to usability. I hope I answered her questions adequately, and that she has a good time writing the article. Thanks, Bianca!

Also... thanks too to Izzy Forman of 360i for sending me .

Dog Show People: A Field Guide

Someone posted this to the Beardie List this morning. I couldn't help but chuckle -- so you enjoy, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This is Another Public Service Announcement

I read the Google search phrases, and I know you've been asking, so...

Show Handling Classes in Westbrook, ME

is offering Show Handling classes with Penny Cary starting on Thursday, March 13. Class sessions run for 6 weeks, and are held at the Westbrook Armory, Westbrook, ME. For more information or to register, call Evelyn at (207) 284-4093.

lists the different classes she teaches around southern Maine and the different session dates.

Show Handling Classes in Raymond, NH

Bo-Gee is offering show handling classes with Patricia Barrett on Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM, starting March 6. the course runs 6 weeks. If space is available, drop-ins are welcome at a cost of $15 per dog.

for all the details.

Show Handling Workshop in Lincolnville, ME on March 16

Sue Morlan, who is a UKC (United Kennel Club) conformation judge, is offering a workshop on show handling at Wag It! Sports Camp in Lincolnville. FMI, email Sumac or visit .

Show Handling Classes in Bangor, ME

The Penobscot Valley Kennel Club offers show handling classes at Pet Quarters on Stillwater Avenue in Bangor. Price: $7.00 per class.

Private Show Handling Classes in Kennebunk, ME

Tracy Shaw is offering private handling classes at in Kennebunk, ME starting on March 7. Send her an email or call 207-985-6985 to set something up.

Dinah and I took group handling classes with Tracy, and we learned a lot. We also met fellow show people from the area and created an instant cheering section for all of the dogs in the class! Of course, we went on to work with Kathy later on, but our early training in the class was invaluable for both of us.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Westminster: It Ain't for Sissies

Congratulations to Uno the Beagle and everyone else who won at Westminster! I've recorded both nights of the show to my TiVo, and will enjoy them at my leisure soon. I came down with yet another nasty wintertime virus this week, and I've just been too slothful and stuffy-headed to enjoy much of anything aside from hot tea.

Dinah and I didn't attend the show this year. We didn't win anything big enough in the past year to merit an invitation, plus there's the pesky issue of those two crummy majors standing between us and getting Dinah finished. (Only champions of record are allowed to compete at Westminster.)

I know no one who reads this blog would ever think so, but there are folks who think that the show is nothing more than a bunch of overgroomed pooches and their equally overgroomed handlers prancing around a ring, pretending that they're doing something important. Those folks must have visions of these dogs and their handlers being whisked everywhere in gleaming black limousines tricked out with pink satin pillows. The truth is, though, that showing at Westminster is about as big a test of endurance for both dog and human as one can find in the dog-showing world.

Westminster is a benched show, one of the few such shows left in the entire country. Benched shows hearken back to the early days of dog showing, and to livestock shows before them. At a benched show, you and your dog are expected to remain in the benching area for a specified length of time. The public is able to come by to see the dogs up close and talk to their owners and handlers, and they can see a number of dogs of each breed all together in their various benching areas.

What they don't tell you -- at least, until you read all the rules in the premium list -- is that you're not allowed to leave the building with your dog between early in the morning and late in the evening -- as if there were someplace else you cold go anyway. The benching areas themselves are almost (but not quite) big enough if you're showing Chihuahuas, but if you have a large dog with a correspondingly large crate, you will have to stand for the whole time you're there. You're not allowed to have chairs. You can even hire security guards to watch over your dog, your crate, and your stuff while you answer nature's call. If that doesn't already sound like more fun than you can possibly stand, remember that the show is held in Madison Square Garden in February. The doors are closed, the heat's on, and there isn't a blade of grass for miles around. You can just imagine what the place smells like.

Oh, and did I mention the crowds? How many times can you repeat, "No, this is a Bearded Collie. The Old English Sheepdogs are over there. Yes I do know that it doesn't look at all like Lassie. Yes, my dog can see just fine. Yes, I do have to brush her a lot." I can see where throat lozenges and bottled water might be precious commodities after a few hours of that.

Let's face it, the benching area is a rough place to spend a day, or even two. Having to stay on display in the benching area for hours before and hours after you show is a real strain on both your dog and you, and you both deserve a ginormous amount of credit if you can get through all that and still find the energy to make a decent showing in the ring. They should give out survival awards to every entrant.

Why do it, then? Westminster is the Big One, the longest-running dog show in the country, the Great Kahuna of Shows. If you and your dog are tough enough to take the strain, you'll meet up with some of the winningest dogs in the country and some of the biggest names in dogdom, living legends and legends-in-the-making. A breed win there, or an Award of Merit, is a singular honor -- and a group placement guarantees you a place in Westminster history.

We've never had occasion to show in a benched show. As I said above, there aren't very many of them left in the country, and it's possible that Westminster is the closest benched show to where we live. Would we go if we could? I honestly don't know. I guess we have to finish first and then see what happens.

Just for fun, here are a couple of entertaining links to posts about the Westminster show:

Monday, February 11, 2008

The #1 Authority on #2

Do you have a dog-related question? At a loss for what to do in a dog-related situation, or just curious about something on the subject of dogs? You can always turn to for advice that is both humorous and helpful. Her Web site design is certifiably Wicked Sharp as well.

Imagine my pleasure when I found an email from her in my inbox this afternoon. She had received a question from a reader on the subject of dogs eliminating during a dog show. It's a timely query, considering that the takes place over the next two days, and the groups are broadcast on Monday and Tuesday evenings on the USA Network and CNBC. Best in Show takes place on Tuesday night immediately after group judging.

Dinah in the Snow