Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The National Dog Show: There's an App for That!

Are you planning to watch the National Dog Show, Presented by Purina, on Thanksgiving Day? If you went to the show this past weekend, or know someone who did, you already know how things went... but the TV broadcast takes place tomorrow on NBC, at noon (just after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade).

I always have to travel on Thanksgiving Day, which means I have to leave before the dog show starts, and I don't get to my destination until after Best in Show. Of course I have a DVR, but I can't watch that while I'm whooping it up with the family.

This year, there's a free National Dog Show app for those of us who either have to miss all the fun, or who just enjoy keeping up with all the broadcast events as they happen. I've downloaded it for my iPhone already, and am having fun exploring — and finding all the photos of Beardies at the show!

Here's the press release for the app...


App available for Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices features
all the breeds, Tweets, polls, photo galleries, backstage video, interviews
and vignettes as the annual showcase celebrates its 10th anniversary

New York, NY (November 23, 2011) — NBC and “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” announce the release of their National Dog Show mobile suite application in time for viewers of its Thanksgiving Day special to keep in touch with all aspects of the event. Features of the app include exclusive video content, The National Dog Show Twitter feed, polls, video and in-depth descriptions of the 170-plus breeds in the show and the best photos from previous shows.

The new National Dog Show app is a free download available from the Android Market and iTunes App Store. Users can take advantage of the app to enhance their enjoyment of the show, which airs Thanksgiving Day immediately after the Macy’s Parade. Over 18 million total viewers tune into the two-hour special (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones) each year.

Specific features of the National Dog Show app allow users to:
  • check out more than 170 breeds as they are judged
  • view exclusive video clips and photos from past events
  • watch interviews and vignettes
  • view in-depth descriptions of this year’s four new breeds
  • view an outline of judging standards
  • read an article on Eli, the 2011 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador
  • download National Dog Show wallpapers
  • check out 2011 National Dog Show Fun Facts
  • participate in polls.
The special is a celebration of America’s fascination with man’s best friend, hosted by John O’Hurley, the “Seinfeld” ensemble actor (catalogue king “J.Peterman”) and expert analyst David Frei, America’s foremost authority on the sport. The two-hour special’s unique content is facilitated by the open format of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia event, one of only five remaining “benched” shows in which the dogs are on display all day for the visiting public.
Contact: Steve Griffith, Vizion Group Public Relations, (484) 433-7757,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giveaway: Two Free Tickets to the Bay Colony Dog Shows and Canine Pet Expo

Quick Reminder: Entries for the Bay Colony Dog Show cluster will close on Wednesday, November 23. MB-F is the super. Show dates are Thursday, December 8 through Sunday, December 11.

The Bay Colony Dog Show cluster and Canine Pet Expo, sponsored by Purina, is the show with which I have the longest relationship, while never actually having exhibited there. Thanks to my friend Julie at DennehyPR, I've enjoyed at least a few minutes of fame at the shows, first as a blogger-on-the-ground, and then as one of the guest emcees for the Rescue Parade.

Since then, the cluster has migrated south from Boston to Providence, and it now takes place at the RI Convention Center. The Convention center is close by the Amtrak train station, and not too terribly far from Route 95.

The Canine Pet Expo portion of the event includes loads of family-friendly events and demonstrations, including a "Meet the Breeds" event, a dog trainer with answers to your dog-training questions, demos in agility, K-9 Nosework, and Disc Dogs, and exhibits by various breed rescues and other non-profits (including New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue (NEOESR) and Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog, dedicated to purchasing bulletproof vests and equipment for K-9 police officers). Demos run between 10 AM and 3 PM on the weekend days.

This event is also famous for the sheer number and variety of vendors — everything from dog foods and supplements to clothing and gift items to outdoor equipment and home & garden items. The shopping is simply awesome — I know I've left a goodly portion of my wallet's contents there in past years, and quite a few folks I know do much of their holiday shopping there. This year, the show is expecting 40-odd vendors of all kinds. Check the website after Thanksgiving to see who's coming and where they'll be. (It never hurts to go to the shopping area with a plan in hand.) Wear comfortable shoes and bring a backpack or good-sized shopping bag... just in case. You do at least want to bring your dog home something, right?

Tickets are $10 for adults and seniors, and free for children under $12. The Bay Colony Dog Show website has downloadable, printable $1 off coupons. Parking is indoors and adjacent to the Convention Center. Single day tickets are $10, but four-day parking passes are available.

The event's website is a wealth of information on what to see and when, directions, parking, times for the events and demos, and so on. Judging programs, listing the ring times and ring numbers for each breed in the show, won't be available until probably a week after the show closes. You can either visit to get a judging program for each day of the show, or pick one up when you get to the show. The clubs will be selling show catalogs there, too.

Things to See and Do

Here are some things that spectators should plan to do at the show:
  • Stop by the superintendent's table for a judging program, if you want to watch the show.
  • Stop by the AKC booth for coloring books for the kids and lots of helpful information for the pet dog owner.
  • Visit the Purina booth. They're the shows' sponsor, and they might have goodies available for attendees.
  • Make sure to visit the NEOESR booth. Ask for Denver!

Want to Go For Free?

I have a pair of show passes to give away! Each pass is good for one adult admission for any day of the show (December 8-11), and they've come stapled to a flyer with another $1 off coupon on it. All you have to do to enter the drawing is to follow these Wicked Simple Rules...

  1. Leave a comment on this blog telling me why you want to go to the show. Facebook comments, while loved and encouraged, won't be counted as entries.
  2. Make your entry before the closing date of Wednesday, November 23. If you don't live near me and you win, I want to make sure you get your passes inthe mail on time.
The winner will be chosen entirely at random based on comment number.

My friend Val (Traveler's mom) and I have needed to take a road trip for a while now, so we'll be there. We haven't picked which day yet — we'll probably wait for the judging programs before deciding. See you in the shopping areas, if not at ringside!

Friday, November 04, 2011

AKC Tries to Woo Back Owner/Handlers

I was never that great a handler, between lack of coordination and stage fright. My hat's off to anyone who sticks with it.

MB-F once published statistics for 2008 and 2009 that show the percentages of wins that go to dogs with and without agents named at entry, and you can see that the majority of Winners and BOBs are awarded to dogs with no agent listed. The majorities change for Group Firsts and BIS, though. Although the class and breed win ratios look good for the agent-less dogs and the thesis is proved that judges don't always put up handlers, the stats don't distinguish between dogs who just don't have their handlers named in the show catalog, and those being handled by their owners or other non-professionals.

You have to give AKC credit for trying, though. Between offering the 4-6 Month Puppy class and the Open Show to attract more AOH entries, AKC is hoping to get more owner-handlers out there with their puppies and class dogs. The idea is kind of nice: a lower-pressure environment where owner-handlers can just show their class dogs and compete only with other owner-handlers and their class dogs. Of course, the honors you can win at Open shows don't count toward a real CH or GCH, so amateurs still have to get out there and compete with the professionals in order to finish their dogs. The Amateur Owner-Handler (AOH) class at AKC shows is still relatively new (it replaced Novice, which hardly anyone entered anyway), but in my time stewarding since it started, I have yet to see the AOH entry get the win where any other competition is involved.

AKC hasn't given up on its hopes of getting more buckage from the non-professionals. Here is a blurb from the October AKC Board minutes describing the Best Owner/Handler. See Page 22, Attachment C. AKCommunicates! describes the Owner/Handler Series thusly:

AKC Owner/Handler Series

The AKC Owner/Handler Series will showcase owner handled dogs at well attended dog shows geographically distributed across the country. The AKC Owner/Handler competition will be conducted following Best of Breed judging in each breed ring. All dogs in the BOB competition (including WD & WB) will stay in the ring after the judge makes their placements in BOB competition. The ring steward will ask all professional handlers to leave the ring and then judge will then select the Best Owner Handler (BOH).

It sounds like a good enough idea, though as a ring steward I'm not thrilled about having one more thing to juggle at shows where we already have Puppy, Veteran, and BBE extravaganzas and their separate groups to judge. On the other hand, we adapted to awarding the Selects after only a couple of hiccups, so this is just one more thing we'll have to keep track of (not to mention the entirely new sets of ribbons we'll need for the 4-6 Puppies). As an owner-handler, you have to at least get Winners for consideration. There's also that mention of "well attended dog shows." I'm reasonably willing to bet that none of the shows north of Massachusetts will be deemed sufficiently "well attended" so that BOH can be offered. If you want encouragement, folks, be prepared to owner-handle at the Big E.

It's nice to see that AKC still cares enough about revenues form owner-handlers that they'll keep trying to get more of them back into the ring. I honestly hope that the experiment works. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

4-6 Month Puppy Class/Open Shows

Dinah would have been a little handful in the 4-6 Month Puppy classes! Here she is at 18 weeks of age, playing in the mud. (She'll turn 6 tomorrow! Where does the time go??)

After we held a Beginner Puppy class at our National Specialty, AKC solicited input from the committee on how they thought the event went. People we talked to loved seeing the little puppies — it's just too bad that the show photographer didn't get any candids that day. (A lot of photos are showing up on Facebook, though.) Our judge LOVED her assignment, and wanted to take all of the puppies home with her. The only suggestions people made were that the puppies be separated by gender, as the older ones are.

AKC has announced that the 4-6 Month Puppy class is now official. You may show your puppies at regular all-breed shows, or at the newest type of conformation event: the Open Show.

Here is the official scoop on both news items, borrowed from AKCommunicates!...

Four-to-Six Month Puppy Class

The Four-to-Six Month Puppy competition will be open to dogs that are at least four months of age but under six months on the day of the event. Classes will be offered for AKC recognized breeds and varieties as well as Miscellaneous and FSS breeds. Professional handlers are not permitted to exhibit in this class.

Entrants in the Four-to-Six Month Puppy class will compete for Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed. Group and Best in Show Puppy competition will also be offered.

Four-to-Six Month Puppy competition will take place in a separate ring(s) from the regular class judging in order to avoid delays in the judging of regular classes. Classes will not be divided by sex in this competition.

Certificate of Merit (CM)

Certificate of Merit points can be earned in the Four-to-Six Month Puppy class at a regular all-breed or specialty show, at an Open Show and in Miscellaneous classes. The Certificate of Merit, a suffix title, requires 15 points awarded in accordance with the following point structure.
Dogs Competing   Points
2   1
4   2
8   3
12   4
16   5

AKC had me with the 4-6 Month Puppy classes, but semi-lost me with the expanded competition and the CM. I can totally understand why someone would want to get out there and win with a promising youngster, and I'd have gone for it myself when Dinah was still a little fuzzball. I'm just not entirely sure I want to see baby puppies chasing points for the title and being campaigned the same way the adults are. Let puppies be puppies!

Open Show

An Open Show is an informal American Kennel Club sanctioned conformation event at which dog clubs, judges, stewards, and exhibitors and their dogs gain experience needed for licensed events.

All-breed clubs must offer classes for all registerable breeds and varieties and for purebred dogs of any breed eligible for entry in the Miscellaneous Class and all FSS recordable breeds.

Classes offered include:
  • 4-6 Month Puppy Class
  • 6-9 Month Puppy Class
  • 9-12 Month Puppy Class
  • Open Class
Licensed and member clubs may hold two sanctioned Open Shows each year in addition to their two championship shows.

The Open Show is a terrific idea — think of it as being sort of like a B conformation-only match with points toward the new Certificate of Merit. This is a great way for everyone to get in practice "that counts." It's a great place for provisional judges to pick up experience with breeds, and it makes for a great training ground for everyone else involved with a dog show. Best of all, licensed and member clubs may hold them without having to give up their all-breed shows to do so.

Most importantly, the event is designed to be owner-handler friendly and geared toward the dogs and puppies in the classes. Champions of record and professional handlers are not permitted.

The October AKC Board Minutes contain information about the 4-6 Month Puppy class, Open shows, and more. See the attachments at the end of the minutes for the details and complete rules. The minutes themselves are fascinating reading, and include much discussion about new breeds in the registration pipeline.

Friday, October 28, 2011

PSA: January Handling Classes

I know, right? Wasn't it just a little bit jarring to see the word "January" in the headline already?

Like it or not, the end of the dog-show year is beginning to wind down in our latitude. It normally ends with the Thanksgiving cluster in Springfield and the Providence cluster just after that in early December. Oh, there's the odd show after that in January (Fitchburg) and February (Hartford), but a lot of folks hibernate until at least the vernal equinox before venturing out to show in the new year. (We do. Winter is the time we spend training.)

Anyway... back to the PSA. Penny Cary of Petiquette Canine Education has already started posting dates and times for January handling classes at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco. Classes meet on Thursdays at 6:30, starting on January 5.

Penny's classes fill up quickly! To reserve your spot, contact Finish Forward Dogs as soon as you can.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Specialty Hangover Edition

There's a reason why people save up most or all of their vacation time for the National Specialty. Sure, it's basically just another dog show — but what a dog show! How often do you get to see hundreds of dogs of your breed in one place, ranging from puppies to seniors, in all colors and coat lengths, from champions to rescued companions? You get to catch up with old friends, see grown-up dogs you met when they were just puppies, check out a future parent of your next puppy, see the big guns and brass hats up close, meet all your buds from Facebook, and get your hands on some very, very nice specimens of your beloved breed.

I try to get to the BCCA National most years, even if I don't bring a dog to show. It's just so great to reconnect with my friends, meet all the dogs, and enjoy what the show locale has to offer. Some friends of mine and I have a long-standing tradition (started at the 1997 Beardie National) of picking a gourmet restaurant in the area and spending one evening at a nice, civilized, off-campus dinner. Amid the excitement and near-constant activity at the show, this one dinner is an island of peace and conviviality over great food and fine wine. I still regret missing the 2010 National, but I'd just started a new job two weeks before the show and was still up to my eyebrows in mandatory new-hire training.

This year, my local regional club played host to the National. Hosting the show is actually a multi-year effort — we've been at it since our bid was accepted at the 2009 National. Here's where we held it...

That's The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, a lovely old resort hotel with a tradition of dog-friendliness. The staff couldn't have been nicer or easier to work with! They seemed as pleased as we were to see Beardies everywhere, from the private beach to the veranda overlooking the pool. Once the rain stopped, people and Beardies appeared all over the place, enjoying the view and the amenities.

The rain damn near killed us. It rained on the herding trials. It rained on the drive to and from the herding instinct tests, though the skies managed to hold off just long enough to do the tests themselves. Badger Blue Burfitt earned his instinct certificate, which makes him Breaksea Revolution, HIC.

(This photo actually comes from last year's English Shepherd Gathering. I don't know if there are any candids from this year's HICs.)

It rained on the obedience and rally trials. Dinah was having none of that sitting-in-the-puddles crap, so we blew our Beginner Novice debut rather badly. I ended up pulling her from Rally Excellent. She can do both in her sleep, but not on that day.

I was too busy toting barges, lifting bales, buying supplies, and so on to see as much of the Specialty as I would have liked. I missed the Welcome Party, all of the meals I'd bought tickets for, and a good part of the showing. At least working at the fundraising/logowear booth gave me a good view of the judging when I wasn't running around.

Dinah got a big honkin' rosette with all her titles on it for the Parade of Titleholders... but alas, she (and I) didn't get back to the ring in time to take part. It was the only time all week that she got any love of any kind while in the ring... but she looked lovely during Friday's best-of-breed judging. Kathy said that her head wasn't in the game, though — maybe it was a holdover from Tuesday's puddle-based trauma in that same ring.

All the rain and rushing about aside, though, it was a good week — and I'm both sad and relieved that it's over. I hope to go dogless to next year's National, hang out, see my friends, and see more of the actual show than I did this year. The National doesn't rotate back to the East until 2014, when it will take place in Gettysburg, PA. Dinah could show in Veterans by then (she'll be 8) — and we're already psyched for it!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a part in the success of the 2011 Beardie National -- to the committee chairs, the conscripted help, the exhibitors, the event secretaries and judges, the shoppers at the logowear and fundraising tables, and anyone who volunteered to help out with anything. It takes a very large village to put on a Specialty, and we're all grateful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PSA: Handling Seminar in York, ME

Conformation Handling Techniques and Evaluations with Bill & Sue Burrell

Ever wonder why your dog places a certain way in the show ring?
What was that judge thinking?

Retired handler and National/International Judge Bill Burrell and National/International handler Sue Burrell, will present to you handling techniques which will help you accentuate your dog's best assets while covering up minor flaws.

In the second half, Bill will critique and evaluate your dog and explain how to show your dog to the best advantage. Join us and learn what dogs look like through the eyes of a judge and practice evaluating dogs in just 2 minutes. Take this opportunity to study with the Burrells and gain from their knowledge and insight in the show ring!

When: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Time: 9:00am - 3:30pm
Cost: Participant: $75.00/handler Auditor: $37.00
Seminar Includes: Full day seminar (30 minute lunch break), handouts, individual evaluations and light snacks
Join Us!
Call or Email Renee Gordon, Manager

For those of you not able to attend the seminar, Bill will be available for private evaluations after the seminar.

When: Sunday, October 16, 2011 Time: 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Cost: $50/evaluation

Monday, September 05, 2011

I Still Freakin' Love Dog Shows

Labor Day is always a bittersweet holiday for those of us living on the tourist-trap coast. It marks the nominal end of the summer, even though we have three more weeks until the autumnal equinox puts a decisive end to the season. We already have a few red trees and a few orange-y branches here and there. Pretty though the leaves might be, we still could use a few uncrowded weeks of sunshine and lemonade before we all have to hunker down, draw our jacket hoods around us, and start shoveling the damned snow again.

There are still outdoor dog shows and trials in this region after Labor Day, including some of my traditional favorites (such as the Garden State Bearded Collie Clan's regional). None of them possess quite the end-of-season poignancy of the Labor Day weekend cluster, though.

Dinah hasn't been showing in many conformation shows this year. We missed out on the Canadian National and haven't entered any of the Regionals, so the BCCA National will likely be the first time she steps into a conformation ring in 2011. We've been focusing on rally and obedience this year, and have made great strides forward in our training. We've completed two APDT rally titles, and are shooting for AKC obedience and rally titles before the snows come.

Because we haven't been showing, this leaves me open to being dragooned by chief stewards at all of the other local dog shows. Gossip gets around; if you've finished your dog and aren't showing anyone else in the classes, you're considered fair game. Stewarding is not a task for the disorganized or easily distracted, but if you're up to the demands, there aren't too many other places to get as close a view of the goings-on as inside the show ring with the judge. Besides, how much fun can you have while being paid gas money with breakfast and lunch thrown in?

All the "hired hands" at dog shows share a camaraderie based on hard work and war stories, but the ring stewards have an esprit de corps all their own. Recognition is instant: "So you're another sucker, eh? Welcome to the club!" Veteran stewards have some of the best dog-show war stories and gossip you'll hear anywhere.

If you're very lucky, you'll get to work with some wonderful judges. Every one I've shared the ring with this year has been delightful, funny, friendly, and a joy to work with. Many of them remember well what it's like to be the ring steward, since they had to have that experience before becoming judges. Some, if time permits, will share some of what they look for in a good dog — whether in general or specific to the breed being judged. Some are chatty, some are strictly businesslike, and some seem gruff until you're both up to your elbows in ring procedure. Some are newbie-friendly and share tips from their own stewarding days about how to keep the traffic flowing smoothly. Some talk about their own experiences in the transition from steward to judge, and are wonderfully encouraging. I've even had a chance to work with a fellow DWAA member, and wish we could have socialized more. Oh, you do get stuck with a humdinger every now and then, but I've only had one of those, and not within the past couple of years.

The most interesting thing I've noted as a steward is the change in dynamic in how many of the other folks treat you. The professional handlers and the juniors are almost unfailingly kind and polite, and I've had some owner-handlers poke me in the back or shoulder or shout "Hey, Steward!" when they want something. (Note to the pokers and the shouters: Judges notice these things. They were stewards once, too.)

On the other hand, specialty chairs are so grateful when you do something as simple as keep track of their trophies and ribbons without making a hash of things. The Sheltie folks were a joy to work with this weekend, and they even gave me a tin of treats to take home to the Gang of Four. I should have offered them gifts for being so well-organized and fun to be around.

Yesterday, at the end of the four-day show cluster, I plopped into a handy director's chair someone had vacated in the club tent. My feet felt broken. My bones were weary, and I hadn't had a caffeine fix in hours. All the same, I watched the group judging and Best in Show through the afternoon sunshine, smooched a Vizsla puppy who had climbed up into my lap, and thought, I freakin' love this. What finer place to spend the last weekend of Maine summer?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Retirement Breeds

There's no avoiding the fact that we're all getting older — and especially around the conformation ring. Just surf the various dog-show websites and those for the publications, and see the number of articles that lament the graying of the sport, the increasing average age of the people involved, and so on. Look around you at the next dog show you attend, and note the proportion of gray-haired judges and exhibitors to younger ones. (While you're there, do something nice for a junior handler, even if it's just to say, "Good job." They are the future of this sport, and fewer and fewer of them are taking up show handling instead of XBox.)

Not that I mean this post to be a downer. It's just that I've noticed the subjects of conversations with my friends drifting toward certain subjects more and more often as time goes on. One very popular theme these days is the Retirement Breed. Almost everyone I speak with at a show has, at one time or another, started a sentence with, "When I retire, I think I might get myself [X breed]."

Retirement Breeds are almost always smaller than people's current breeds. Some have easier-care coats. Some have the same sorts of coats as the speakers' current breeds. In Beardie-land, a number of people have "downsized" from Beardies to Lowchens or Havanese — same amount of grooming, but on a dog you can gait around the show ring at a walk, show on a table, and pick up and carry easily.

I'm honestly not ready for the little dogs yet, if ever. Having grown up with Newfies, I still maintain an overwhelming fondness for the giants. I would have a house full of Irish Wolfhounds if they only lived a little longer. As it is, I proudly point to Dinah and say, "I've already downsized! She's the smallest dog I've ever owned."

Still, playing the game of "What If" with friends is fun and doesn't cost anything. The subject of Retirement Breeds came up around the stewards' lunch table at the Penobscot shows. Aside from the folks with Shelties and Chihuahuas, who have probably already downsized enough, nearly everybody added a Retirement Breed to the pile.

French Bulldogs appeared to be the paws-down favorite; quite a few people would trade a little snoring for a short, easy-care coat. Many of those folks thought that Boston Terriers or Whippets wouldn't be bad breeds to downsize to, either. One person offered up a Smooth Collie as a breed that still was respectably big enough to have fun with, but with an appealingly low-maintenance coat.

For myself, I can't imagine not having a Beardie around the house. Long-haired smaller breeds just don't make adequate substitutes for me. Actually, most short-haired small breeds don't do a lot for me, either. If I did cave in and draw up a Retirement Breed Bucket List, perhaps these breeds might make their way onto it:
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I just love this breed and always have.
  • Skye Terrier. I've met a few belonging to friends and think they're just wonderful. They're definitely not little dogs; they just have low centers of gravity.
  • Frenchie. Of course, the Frenchie! I had one become my BFF at a Mardi Gras dog parade once.
  • Greyhound. Yes, they're big -- but they have hardly any coat, and they wear funky collars so well.
  • Standard Poodle. I had one as a kid. Keep a good groomer on speed-dial if you're not the DIY type, but they're wonderful.
  • Smooth Collie. All the fun of a Rough Collie with a fraction of the maintenance.
What about you? What breeds would be your Retirement Breeds?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

PSA: Update on Saco Handling Classes

Petiquette and Finish Forward Dogs are offering two sessions of breed handling classes in September. Each session lasts 4 weeks and starts at 6:30 PM. Cost: $80.

The Monday sessions begin 9/5. The Wednesday sessions begin 9/7.

FMI and to reserve your spot: Contact Penny Cary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PSA: New Handling Classes in Bangor and Saco

The Penobscot Valley Kennel Club is holding handling classes on the Bangor Waterfront on the following dates: August 8, August 15, and August 29. FMI: Contact the instructor, Denyse Adams.

Petiquette Canine Education is holding handling classes in two locations in Saco...

FMI: Contact Penny Cary.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Coming Soon to a Show Near You!

Dinah with the Winners' Bitch trophy from the 2008 BCCC National. This photo was taken in 2009, shortly before we shipped the trophy back to that year's Trophy Chair.

According to the Secretary's notes in the July (online) edition of the AKC Gazette, the AKC Board has proposed changes to the Rules Pertaining to Dog Shows. Among the proposed changes is the addition of a Reserve Best in Show, similar to what they've had in Europe for a long time. These changes would be voted upon at the September 13 Delegates' Meeting. Presumably, they would take effect next January 1, but that was not specified.

Here is the existing rule. The proposed change is underlined.

Chapter 3
Section 17.

A club giving group classes must also give a Best in Show, the winner to be entitled “Best Dog in Show”. No entry fee shall be charged but the group winners must compete. The club or association giving group classes must also give a Reserve Best in Show, the winner to be chosen by the Best in Show judge from among those group class winners remaining in the ring, the winner to be entitled “Reserve Best in Show.” No entry fee shall be charged but the remaining group winners must compete.

The rule changes also describe the RBIS ribbon as "any unassigned color or combination of colors." Looks like there might be some room for creativity there. As expected, most of the rest of the changes have to do with inserting "Reserve Best in Show" after "Best in Show" wherever described.

What do you think about the upcoming change? Is it...

  • A no-brainer (after all, British KC and FCI shows have had RBIS for years)
  • Just another ploy for money
  • A real incentive for increasing entries
  • Unlikely to change much of anything
  • Just one more thing for the show chair to worry about
...or all of the above?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vanna, Can I Buy a Title?

Sometimes I wonder whether I should rename the blog to What the Hell is AKC Doing Now?. I completely understand that having the organization lose money is a loss for all of us, but sometimes their desire to wring every possible dollar out of the dog-owning public is just so naked it's embarrassing to watch.

Thus it is with the new AKC Therapy Dog (THD) title. For the price of your time and a mere $20, you too can buy a Therapy Dog title from AKC!

Please don't get me wrong. Therapy dogs provide wonderful, valuable help and service to so many people, from shy kids struggling to read aloud to lonely seniors in nursing homes to hospital patients missing their own pets. Therapy work requires training, patience, and an unwavering commitment to helping improve others' lives at the same day and time every single week, rain or shine, month after month after year. It's something that I have always wanted to do, and have always been too short of reliable time slots — but as an AKC CGC evaluator, I'm always especially proud when one of "my" teams expresses a desire to go on to do therapy work. (I did look into becoming a TDI evaluator in order to help make therapy certification more available here in Maine. The organization quite rightly requires evaluators to do therapy work for a year first, even if you are a CGC tester already. This goes to the top of my "when I retire" list.) We need to have more therapy teams in the world, and any method that encourages people to engage in therapy work with their dogs is a Good Thing.

So what is my objection to the new THD title? For one thing, it marks a major departure from the way one normally earns an AKC title -- at AKC events, with AKC sanctioning. Just because I do CPE agility and APDT rally doesn't mean I can go back to AKC, wave those title certificates, and say "Hey, gimme one of those AKC titles. I have the papers to show I've earned one. Oh, and here's $20."

I don't really even object to the fact that the THD is the first non-competitive title that AKC has ever offered. (I'll get to CGC later.) What I do object to is the fact that AKC doesn't really even oversee the earning of the title; that work is left to whichever organization certified the therapy team in the first place.  It's not redundant to require that work toward an AKC title be done at an AKC event, even if it means liberalizing the interpretation of the term "event." All AKC is doing for therapy teams is printing certificates and offering up titles for non-AKC activities — for a fee.

The Delta Society also certifies goats, llamas, rabbits, and other animals for pet-assisted therapy. If I give AKC $20, can my goat have a title? (Actually, no — unless I register it as a mixed breed first.)

CGC: So What Am I, Chopped Liver?

Where does this leave the CGC (Canine Good Citizen), the red-headed stepchild of AKC titles? Well, CGC is not exactly an official title — it's a certificate. You're not allowed to include it in your dog's list of titles when entering AKC competition events, nor does the CGC appear on any of your dog's other title certificates. Many — perhaps even most — of the therapy teams out there started with the CGC, but the record of that CGC is buried in another database far, far away from the "cool" AKC activities.

Despite its subterranean profile, you don't get the CGC for nothing. Some people train on their own, and some enroll in CGC classes to learn the 10 exercises (all of which are part of the therapy certification programs as well). Both approaches require investments of time and money, and the exam costs extra for those people not enrolled in the training classes. If you pass, you have to send your evaluation sheet and $10 to AKC for your certificate. How about if we CGC graduates send AKC $20 so we can have titles too?

If AKC's objection to legitimizing the CGC lies with the fact that they only get $10 per dog, then perhaps it could adopt a three-tiered program such as the UK Kennel Club's Good Citizen Dog Training scheme. Dog/owner teams can work toward Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels of training, learning such valuable skills along the way as an emergency stop and "go to your place." This approach ought to be good for at least $30, plus the opportunity to sell the associated swag.

Don't even get me started on the amount of effort, love, time, and training that puppy raisers for programs such as NEADS and Guiding Eyes for the Blind put into their charges before the pups go on to lives as working service dogs. If those people and those puppies haven't earned the right to recognition, could they please get a title of their own for $20? Better still, give them their certificates for free. They're the only group for which success means having to give back the dog at the end.

Okay, we get it. AKC is changing its slogan from "We're the Dogs' Champion" to "We're the Dollars' Champion" — but at least be consistent about it, folks. Put something behind the sale of THD titles, or make titles easy enough for all of us to buy that we can get them at Big Lots, where they hang next to the AKC-branded Made-in-China dog treats and the AKC-branded Post-Its with the adhesive that doesn't stick to anything. That, at least, would be the honest approach.

Friday, July 01, 2011

PSA: Summer Handling Classes in Saco

Penny Cary of Petiquette Canine Education is offering handling classes throughout the summer in Saco, but they're in different locations:
  • August's classes are at Paw-zn-Around. The classes take place on Wednesdays starting on 8/3.
  • September's classes are at Finish Forward Dogs. The classes take place on Mondays starting on 9/5 and Wednesdays starting on 9/7.
Penny's classes fill quickly, so contact her soon to enroll!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The longer you remain in the dog world (or in any community, really), the more likely it is that you'll observe not only your own personal milestones, but those of the community. We celebrate birthdays of people and puppies. We bid farewell to our old dogs and our friends' dogs, and to the people we meet in this sport of ours.

AKC judge Lester Mapes was one of those. He died on June 15 after surgery from injuries sustained in a car accident. He and his wife lived in Monson, MA, one of the towns that sustained the most damage from the tornadoes that struck the Springfield area in western Massachusetts. The tornado knocked out two walls of their house and removed the roof. Lester and Judy Mapes were in their car at the time, when their car was struck by another car. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate them before taking them to the hospital. Judy was injured but survived; however, Lester succumbed. This is just all too sad.

His obituary mentions his life in dogs and his equal passion for music and theater. I didn't know him well enough to know any of these things about him — just to note that his time here on earth was still too short.

Lester Mapes gave Dinah her very first AKC point as a puppy. I hadn't yet met Kathy and was still stumbling nervously around the ring with her myself. Despite taking Best Puppy in Show at the Canadian National Specialty, a Puppy Group 2 at another local show, and placing in the puppy class at two regional specialties, Dinah hadn't competed with enough other class bitches to have earned any points. Her perfect shutout score was finally broken, thanks to Lester Mapes, in the cavernous and funky downstairs area of Bangor Auditorium. I guess you never forget your first (point, that is).

Here's our photo from Best of Breed that day (that's Traveler in front of us). Rarely do our action photos include the judge, and it never occurred to me then to ask for a win photo. Try not to wince too much at this display of handling greatness (but at least the puppy's cute)...

Looking through Infodog, I see that other judges we've shown under have also passed. Norman Herbel gave Dinah the Puppy Group 2. Bill Bailey gave her a Reserve in a large and competitive lineup at Ladies'. Robert Moore gave her the 4-point major in Springfield that made her a champion of record, after a long march through zero-point shows and broken majors.

They might be gone from this plane, but they are remembered — and I hope that they've met up with their own old dogs in the afterlife.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

An Even Grander Champion

The July issue of Dog Fancy includes a short article by Nicole Sipe on the AKC Grand Championship program. In it, she mentions that the program has been quite a success for AKC, and she includes a quote from me about the program. (Well, it's not exactly what I said, but the editor got all excited and summed up my answer more creatively than I did.) The gist of that article is that the Grand Championship has brought a number of retired champions back into the ring, and a number of dollars into AKC's coffers. Despite my skepticism about the organization's cries of poverty, I have to agree that any initiative of AKC's that generates support from its core constituency without simply tightening the thumbscrews must be a Good Thing Indeed.

Dog Fancy's publication deadlines happen quite a ways in advance of the actual issue in which an article will appear. Nicole first contacted me about the GCH back in February. Little did either of us realize that AKC would produce a scoop of its own before the July issue reached the newsstands.

Anyway, the GCH program has been such a success for AKC that they've expanded it to include additional levels of achievement. Whereas the original GCH called for 25 points to be earned with at least 3 majors and 4 awarding judges, the new expanded levels of Grand Championship are as follows:
  • Bronze: 100 GCH points
  • Silver: 200 GCH points
  • Gold: 400 GCH points
  • Platinum: 800 GCH points

Seems like you have to show an awful lot of times to get that far... but some dogs have reached the Gold level already and are headed for Platinum. At this writing, a Doberman Pinscher named GCH Ch Mi-Ti's Three Cheers leads the GCH points race with 543. There are 30 dogs in total who hold enough GCH points for the Gold level, so the Dobie is hardly alone.

Just for jollies, I asked a couple of my friends what they thought of the new levels. Most responses ranged between chortles and snorts. "It's just another money-grab." Some felt that the new levels were completely unnecessary, and pretty much everyone agreed that the new levels were reserved for the more wealthy owners out there. If you figure that the #1-ranked GCH now entered shows at $30 a throw and won a 5-point major every time, that's still a $3,258 investment in entry fees alone. Even if you squeeze every penny till it squeals on every other aspect of showing, there's really no way to cheap out on that part. Factor in gas, hotel rooms, handlers, and the gazillion other expenses associated with showing, and you can see how things add up to put the new levels out of reach of many of us mortals.

All the same, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many other dog sports require 10 qualifying scores to earn some titles, and performance competitors are no strangers to the concept of "money titles." I've invested in a few myself, between Seamus and Dinah. Although these new levels really redefine the concept of "money titles," at least the money headed into AKC's coffers from the new program might forestall increases in the costs of everything else. If folks have it and want to spend it, then good on them. You might say that the big-time investors are helping to keep expenses down for the rest of us.

Dinah has 10 GCH points with 2 majors and is currently the 87th Bearded Collie in AKC's GCH rankings. With the number of shows we'll be entering this year, I don't expect those stats to soar any time soon. I can pretty much guaran-damn-tee you that we won't be shooting for Platinum level.

What do you think of the new GCH levels? Are you tempted to try for any of them? Have you achieved the "plain vanilla" GCH yet?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PSAs for Today: Handling Classes in Fryeburg and a Seminar in York

Telling Tails Training Center in Fryeburg, ME is offering conformation classes for all experience levels, led by Beth Collins. These classes will help everyone get ready for the Southern Maine Coastal Classic cluster in mid-May.

Classes will be held on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30-7:30 PM
  • Tuesday, April 26 at 6:30-7:30 PM
  • Monday, May 9 at 6:30 - 7:30 PM

Each class costs $25. You may take one, two, or all three. Sign up at Telling Tails' website or call 642-3693.

Handling Seminar in York in October

It's a Dog's World in York is planning to hold another conformation handling seminar with Sue and Bill Burrell on October 1 and 2. FMI: call 363-0099.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in Bangor, ME

The Penobscot Valley Kennel Club will start its next session of show handling classes on Monday, May 5 at 6 PM on the Bangor Waterfront.

Cost to PVKC members is $5 per class; non-members pay $7. Of course, classes are held weather permitting, so stay home if it is raining or snowing.

PVKC is also considering a 'Puppy Prep' class for conformation showing. All puppies must be 16 weeks or older and have proof of vaccinations. They plan to cover technique, filling out forms, proper dress, and other show topics.

For more information, contact PVKC from their website at

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The New AKC Points Schedule is Out

...and here it is: .

What do you think? Have the points needed for majors increased, decreased, or stayed the same for your breed and geographic region?

It's been just long enough since I've had a class dog in the ring that I don't remember what the points schedules for Beardies have been like in the past few years. The points are quite a bit lower than they were when Dinah was in the classes (7 bitches for 3 points, then 6) -- but it has also been correspondingly more difficult to field the requisite number of entries.  For a while there, it was easier for owners of the bitches to get their majors from the crossover points, since the number of dogs needed is so much lower than the number of bitches. (When there are not enough points in bitches to constitute a major, but there are in dogs, then if Winner's Bitch also goes Best of Breed, Best of Winners, or Best of Opposite, she receives the same number of points for her win as the Winner's Dog receives. This means that the Winner's Bitch receives "crossover points," enough so that she, too, gets a major from that win.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Springtime Rituals

I've always envied my friends in California. The weather generally stays nice enough there so they can go to shows and trials all year round. Here, entering any event in the winter is always conditional. You enter a dog event with full knowledge that if the weather that weekend is sufficiently bad, you'll end up eating the entry. That, along with hibernating from Thanksgiving until St. Paddy's Day or so, marks the "off season" for dog showing here in the Frickin' Arctic.

Since today is the Vernal Equinox, it's time to start thinking about the year ahead. It's time to dust off the equipment, take inventory of what needs repair/replacement/cleaning, invest in some fresh batteries, and organize it all so that an event's worth of necessities can be tossed into the car without too much scrambling. It's time to start reading the premium lists for the springtime events and to think about what to enter when.

Another way I mark the start of the dog-event year is to clear off the bulletin board in the sunroom. Back when I was still actively trialing with Seamus, I'd hang the ribbons and rosettes he'd earned from it in a given year onto the board. At the beginning of the next season, I'd remove them, pack them away, and hang the new year's booty. This has now become an unofficial ritual to mark the new dog-show season. (So what can you do with all the old ones? I had Dinah's BPISS rosette from the '06 BCCC National framed. There are also quite a few people who will take your collected ribbons and stitch them into a quilt, wall hanging, chair back, or what-have-you. This site shows a bunch of photos of finished examples. Maybe someday I'll do something similar with mine, but storing all the ribbons in Rubbermaid boxes in the downstairs closet is still much easier than trying to figure out where to hang a quilt.)

2010 was relatively slim for us in terms of spoils -- we only entered three conformation shows, five AKC rally trials, one UKC rally trial, and a bunch of APDT rally trials -- but we did bring home enough bling to cover the bulletin board. Each one marks some pretty nice memories: the weekend we finished Dinah's Canadian CH, BOS for the second year in a row at our Regional Specialty, her AKC RN and RA and APDT RL1 titles, Badger's 4th in Veterans at the BCCC National... Still, they make a pretty nice collage...

Now that the bulletin board is bare again, it's time to start thinking about the year ahead... and train, train, train! Dinah's litter sister Buffy is now competing in APDT Rally in the UK and is on the verge of earning her RL1 title, too.

As Seen in Dog Fancy

A few weeks ago, a very nice person named Nicole contacted me through the blog. It seems she was writing a small article about the AKC Grand Champion title and was looking for thoughts from the fancy about the new title and its appeal. The article will appear in the July issue of Dog Fancy, in case you're interested.

Public Service Announcement

The next session of Penny Cary's conformation handling classes starts in April at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco. Class spots are filling up fast, so contact Finish Forward soon if you want to get in on the fun.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in York, ME

Sue Burrell's weekly drop-in handling classes are returning to It's a Dog's World in York, starting today (March 7). Class starts at 7:30 PM. last 1 hour, and cost $17.00 per session.

FMI: Call 207-363-0099 or email

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Handling Seminar in York, ME

It's a Dog's World in York, ME is hosting a conformation handling seminar with Sue and Bill Burrell on Sunday, March 6 from 9 AM till 5 PM. The cost of the seminar for participants is $50 ($25 for auditors), and includes handouts and snacks. (Bring a bag lunch.)

Sue and Bill are the regular conformation class instructors at IADW. They've taken a break for the winter, but will resume their weekly drop-in classes in the spring. (Dinah and I attended the drop-in class a few times for practice, but we took semi-private lessons closer to home.) In the meantime, you can spend 7 hours with them and get much more individualized attention than you would at the drop-in class.

To sign up or for more information: call 207-363-0099 or email

Here's more information from the flyer:

it's a dog's world's conformation instructor, Sue Burrell and her husband Bill Burrell, will divide students based on their knowledge and present a day long seminar on conformation handling. This seminar is geared towards:
  • Dog owners who are thinking about or who will soon enter their dog into a show
  • Owners who have already entered their dog into a show
  • Dog owners who are campaigning their special
  • Anyone looking to learn more about the dog show circuit
This seminar will be divided between the talents of both Sue and Bill as they discuss:
  • Choosing your show puppy
  • Raising your puppy for show
  • Creating a presentable dog for the show
  • Presenting your dog to the judge
  • Basic and Advanced handling techniques
Seminar Details
When: Sunday, March 6, 2011
Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm - including a lunch break
Cost: Participants: $50.00 Auditors: $25
Includes: Full day seminar, handouts & snacks

it's a dog's world encourages attendees to bring a brown bag lunch as there will be opportunity to ask questions during the lunch break. There are ample sandwich shops located nearby.

Sue & Bill Burrell's Bio
Sue & Bill have been handling dogs professionally combined for more than 90 years. They have shown dogs in 25 different countries spanning 3 continents. They average 15 Championships on dogs each year. Their familiarity with all AKC breeds and most FCI breeds has allowed them to place in every AKC group and win multiple Best in Shows. Their success is supported by a proven selection and training program that produces the highest quality of dogs to be presented to the judges.

Friday, January 21, 2011

PSA: More Handling Classes in Saco

Petiquette Canine Education is holding handling classes on Wednesday evenings at 6:15 starting on 2/2. These classes take place at Paw-zn-Around in Saco. FMI or to sign up, contact Penny Cary of Petiquette at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guess the Plan Worked!

The following press release comes straight from the AKC Communications Department. I find it interesting to note that the inclusion of mixed breeds in certain performance events was not specifically cited as a cause for the increase in entries. This doesn't mean that it wasn't -- only that there was no specific mention. The Grand Champion program in conformation appears to have lured people back to Best of Breed competition. This release is good news for agility and conformation events, anyway!


-- Records More Than 3 Million Entries --


New York, NY — The American Kennel Club® ( AKC®) leapt over the 3 million entry mark in 2010, recording a total of more than 3,014,000 dog entries across all conformation, companion and performance events. The growth over the number of entries received in 2009 was sparked by the ever-growing interest in the sport of Agility, where entries increased by 9%.  The new “Grand Champion” title assisted shows by providing an increase of over 40,000 additional entries in Best of Breed.  This equates to more than $1.2 million in additional entry fees to Conformation clubs.

“We were very proud to see the uptick in entries,” said Dennis B. Sprung, AKC ’s President and CEO. “The increase is a promising step forward for our clubs in the face of a persistently challenging economy.  We will continue to research ways to enhance the fun and value of competing in each of our sports.”

In addition, Sprung said, “We salute the finest Agility competitors in the nation who continue to set records; the entire AKC community appreciates their skills.”

The 2010 entry total includes entries from all-breed and specialty conformation shows, obedience, field trials, hunt tests, coonhound events, herding tests and trials, lure coursing, agility, earthdog, tracking and rally.


The American Kennel Club, founded in 1884, is a not-for-profit organization which maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world and oversees the sport of purebred dogs in the United States . The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function.  Along with its nearly 5,000 licensed and member clubs and its affiliated organizations, the AKC advocates for the purebred dog as a family companion, advances canine health and well-being, works to protect the rights of all dog owners and promotes responsible dog ownership. More than 20,000 competitions for AKC -registered purebred dogs are held under AKC rules and regulations each year including conformation, agility, obedience, rally, tracking, herding, lure coursing, coonhound events, hunt tests, field and earthdog tests. Affiliate AKC organizations include the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine Health Foundation, AKC Companion Animal Recovery and the AKC Museum of the Dog.  For more information, visit

AKC, American Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club seal and design, and all associated marks and logos are trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks of The American Kennel Club, Inc.
To become a fan of the AKC on Facebook, go to To follow the AKC on Twitter, go to

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Group Practice Match in Saco, March 5

The Pine Tree State Doberman Pinscher Club is holding an all-breed Group Practice on Saturday, March 5 at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco. (Snow date: March 6.) Breeds in the Miscellaneous Group are welcome; a Miscellaneous Class will be offered. Come practice for the spring shows!

If you haven't been to a Group Practice before, it goes something like this: You enter your dog's class (for example, Open) as usual, but all dogs (and bitches) within your group and class (e.g., 9-12 month Toys) will compete at once. Since the classes range from 3-6 month Puppy to Open of any age, you'll first see the 3-6 month ring with (for example) all the little Shepherds leading the pack, huge puppy feet flying, and the little 3-month-old Corgi puppies toddling sweetly in the rear. Next, the 6-9-month-old puppies in the Herding Group get to do the same thing... up through the Open class. Spectators are welcome, and all dogs could use practice moving to applause. Come cheer the next generation of group winners!

Entries are $10 apiece, and you sign up the day of the match. Show up between 9 AM and 9:45. Judging will start at 10:15.

Here are the rest of the rules:

  • Classes offered are: 3-6 month, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, and Open.
  • Dogs with one major are welcome to enter.
  • All dogs must be current on their vaccinations (as recommended by their vets) and free of internal/external parasites and communicable diseases.
  • No heavy grooming, no chalking, and no taped ears.

Crating space is limited, as is table space. The match will take place indoors on Finish Forward's wonderful cushioned flooring.

Food will be available in the morning and the afternoon, and there will be prizes and a 50-50 raffle.

FMI: Email Penny at

Public Service Announcement: Handling Classes in the New Year (Southern Maine)

It's a new year, all right -- so new that I'm still writing 2010 on the checks I've been sending out for the latest training classes. Anyway, if you've made a New Year's resolution to sharpen up your handling skills, continue with your handling classes from the previous year, or begin to get the puppy ready for the spring showing season, here's your chance.

Penny Cary of Petiquette Canine Education and Finish Forward Dogs will be offering handling classes on Monday evenings starting on February 2. Class sessions are 6 weeks long and cost $120. Look here for a registration form. Classes take place at Finish Forward's facility in Saco. Penny's classes always fill up quickly, so sign up soon if you plan to join in the fun!

Casco Bay Dog Training Club offers classes in Bath at the Bath Recreation Department. Their class listing doesn't show handling classes for January or February just yet, but visit the page again and/or contact the club to find out when they plan to schedule classes.

It's a Dog's World in York has drop-in handling classes on Monday nights with Sue Burrell. Sue is taking a break this winter, but will start classes up again in March.

Carroll County Kennel Club offers conformation classes in North Conway and Shelburne, NH. Their January class schedule hasn't been announced yet.

If you know of other conformation handling classes or seminars going on between southern NH and Mid-Coast Maine, please let me know at saltysheepdog at gmail dot com and I'll gladly announce them.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

First Shout-Outs of the Year

Congratulations (slightly belated) to our long-time Dog Show Newbie friends Barb Rimoshytus and Rio the Papillon! Rio earned his AKC championship at the Worcester County KC show on 12/4. His handler Courtney Pray finished him, and she sports a great grin in the win photo. If you're a friend of Barb's on Facebook, you can see him with Courtney and with judge Ruth Zimmerman. The win was a little bittersweet for Barb, who couldn't be at the show, and who wishes she could have been holding the lead that day... but the deed is done. Rio is now officially CH Brookfield's Slam Dunk, and he might also have some Rally title initials after his name. Rio and his Golden roomie Tazzy have both been doing rally this past year.

Another old friend picked up some alphabet soup at this year's Springfield Thanksgiving shows. Deb and Richard's Moxie was already a Canadian champion, but now you can call her Am/Can CH Cameron's Kiss Me Quick. Moxie's long march to the CH was even longer than ours. Even with the slightly reduced number of dogs it takes to make a major in our region nowadays, it still took forever to find majors, and for those majors to hold. I'll have to ask Debbie how many points Moxie finished with. Dinah has something like 24 or 25, and Rowdy Blue had close to 30 by the time he caught his big break.

Fiona needs only two more singles, and her brother Brae finished this past fall at the age of only 17 months -- that's a month younger than his sire Traveler was when he finished. CH Bramley's Green Mountain Boy CGC and handler Brian Kirk made a great pair. Brae took his last points with another handler whose name escapes me, but whom Brae's owners also like very much. Good work, kids!

Okay, I admit that I feel just slightly nostalgic for those days in the classes and all of the socializing that went along with them -- but the whole ordeal of hunting majors feels somewhat like having kids. You have to forget about the pain before you're prepared to have another. We have no room here for a puppy anyway, much less a litter. Maybe someday it would be nice to start again, but in the meantime, it will be fun to cheer for Cash/Casey, Bonnie, and all the new kids. Good luck this year!