Saturday: The clock went off around 6:00 a.m. Which was early after working until 11:00 the night before, but not as early as it would have been if we'd had an 8:00 a.m. ring time or something gross like that. I got Elli's feet done, gave her a bath, and blow-dried her with a little bit of mousse and Plush Puppy spray to froof her out. (I would like to have done the blow-out right before ring time, but I wasn't sure if there would be electrical access, and I haven't picked up a generator yet.) A little bit of chalk on her feet and chest, and off we went.
My hubby came with me this time to watch this crazy dog show business I've become psycho about. He also proved to be great kennel help, setting up the ex-pen, water, etc. while I went to scope out the rings and get my number. When I came back and saw Elli there in the pen, with the sun shining off of her very black, shiny coat and level topline, it hit me: she really DID look like a show dog. Sure, she has her faults, but the perfect dog hasn't yet been born.
There were four rings in a big pulling shed, which unfortunately (for nicely shampooed and chalked white feet and chest, anyway) meant a packed dirt floor. It also meant that there were LOTS of interesting smells. It was pretty close quarters outside of the rings, and the near proximity to so many new dogs was all very exciting for Elli, so she wasn't exactly a model of decorum.
Ell was the only one in her class (9-12 mos.). The judge (David McIntyre) had me take her around the ring and then put her on the table. Elli is not the fastest dog to stack on the table, and I never really got her set before Mr. McIntyre came over to examine her, which meant that: a) she didn't look great from the side; and b) she didn't stand very well to have her bite examined. We clearly have some more work to do on the table!! The down and back was nothing to write home about either. The smells were too, too tempting, so we were, to understate things, NOT smooth. But hey, we were the only one in the class, so on to Winners.
Elli did stand and stack herself nicely when we went back in for winners. She did well on the go around because the dog in front of her was more interesting than the smells on the dirt, and she kept her gait rather than galloping. She looks like she has delusions of being a German Shepherd in the group ring out ahead of me like that but hey, I'll take it. When he had each dog do a down and back for him, though, Elli's nose hit the ground again and she did not show well. WB went to the Open bitch, which was an, um... interesting choice. Reserve went to Paula O'Donnell's blue bitch, whom I (and an unofficial public opinion poll) thought SHOULD have been WB.
After the judging, Paula gave me some great advice and a little demo about how I was baiting Elli into her free-stack, which was much appreciated. I swear, if I somehow manage to squeak into heaven when I die, handling classes there will be held in a dance studio, so there is an entire wall of mirrors to practice in front of. Little things can make a huge difference. I also saw the two puppies that Cheryl and Dotty are keeping out of their Meg-Smarty litter. Gorgeous puppies! A ton of bone, beautifully marked... I'll enjoy watching them mature.
Sunday: Ring time wasn't until 1:15, which meant closer to 2:30 since Cardis were at the very tail end of their group, and I believe the last breed judged before groups commenced. I spritzed Elli and blew her out again before going, but we didn't leave until about noon. Had the weather been nice I would have gone earlier to watch some of the show, but with the rain I couldn't set Ell up in her ex-pen, and I didn't want to leave her crated for hours.
Elli was once again a little over-excited outside the ring waiting to go in. I was asked if I had tried herding with her yet and told that she would probably be great at it. I think this was a polite way of saying, "Your dog is a total spaz case," which, yeah.
This judge (Robert Slay) had me start by putting Elli on the table. She landed a little better this time, but I still didn't really get her set like I wanted before the judge had his hands in her mouth. The down and back were definitely better than Saturday, as was the around, so I was pleased with the improvement.
Elli again did well with the others in the Winners class, and she hopefully looked better free-stacked since I took Paula's advice and baited her much lower. She again did the German Shepherd thing when we all went around, but she at least looks showy that way. WB went to Paula's bitch this time, with Reserve going to Pixie's bred-by bitch.
The weekend all in all: It was a good learning experience for both of us, probably for me more than for Elli. It gave me the opportunity to see what we need to work on, and a little confidence in how she looks stacked up against other competition in the ring. At no time did I feel like she had no business in a show ring; I think she can hold her own, and as she matures more I think we will find some judges who like her. We need to do lots of work on the table thing before the Thanksgiving shows down in Springfield. I also need to come up with some focus games to play while we wait ringside, and some more "no sniff!" training, but overall I got what I wanted out of the weekend.
Eight weeks until the next show!!
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