Points of the Dog

Apparently you can’t just say “nice chap, isn’t he?”… There’s a whole vocabulary of doggy anatomy when judges look at us, and it’s called “Points of the Dog”.  In America, it’s called Conformation.

People say things about me, which mummy didn’t understand, like “good stifle”.  WHAT?  I’ve got a nice stifle.  Where is that?  So…

We all have a Breed Standard… Here’s ours for Welsh Terriers.  This tells us how we should look and move.

The Breed Standard will use words from the Points of the Dog anatomy vocabulary.  Here’s a good explanation.  The Kennel Club runs tests and training for judges to learn these terms!

Basically, I have nice knees…

WT Club Open Show

Mummy was VERY nervous about this show.  The two shows I’ve been to before didn’t have any other Welsh Terriers entered for the judge to compare against.  We know I’m not a perfect-perfect Welsh.  My tail curls over more than it should, for example.  But i’m the right size, colour, face, build… it’s just my tail.  And we are working on massages to straighten it up a bit over the next 10 months before Crufts.  It can be done.

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This is a breed-specific open show, so only Welshies, of all ages.  We’ve been a member of the WT Club since I became a Bennett, so over 3 years.  We know the committee members and have attended lots of fairs and Discover Dogs events with some of them.  I was always a pet dog.  So this was my first entrance as Tough Cookie at Bolhaus rather than just ‘Chuck’.

I entered 3 classes, to give myself the best experience of a breed-specific show.  Because I’m very new, I was able to enter Special Beginners Dog, Novice Dog AND Postgraduate Dog.

I won them all. By default, you might say, as  I was the only chap entered into those classes.  BUT, this doesn’t mean if you enter a class with no other entries you automatically win…  A judge is entitled to place you 4th if they think you’re not deserving of a win.  But I won.  So that was good news indeed!

I didn’t have to run round 3 times – because they were consecutive classes without competition, the lovely judge simply awarded a “repeat” after my first trot and stand.  i think everyone appreciated moving swiftly through the programme too…

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I’m on the left… This was in ‘Best Dog’, after I won the 3 Classes

So that meant I therefore was eligible for Best Dog, up against all the other Class Winner Dogs.  I came 3rd I think?  So I didn’t get Best Dog or Reserve.  That’s ok, though.  I’ve never got through to Best Dog before!

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My rosettes!

I got lots of handy tips from judges, other exhibitors etc.  I had a lovely time and mummy calmed down by the end of it.

What we learned:IMG_0563

  • I walk too slowly – but if mummy tries to speed up, I break out into a run… We need to learn to trot at a decent pace
  • NO NOISY CLICKY SHOES.  This is mummy’s fault not mine.
  • Groom to accentuate features.
  • Now I’ve won a certain number of classes (5), I can’t enter the lower classes anymore.  I’m no longer a Special Beginner or a Novice – I’m a Postgraduate.

Tools of the Trade

Having attended lots of shows as a Discover Dogs breed ambassador, we had a vague idea about the sort of equipment show dogs need to take with them on the day…

  • A grooming table
  • A crate (soft or wire)
  • Grooming equipment
  • A show lead
  • Treats/water and bowl
  • Treats/water for humans
  • CASH!
  • A carrying device to transport all of the above

On our first show (in January, the Bucks Open Show), mummy went alone because daddy teaches on a Saturday at his school.  She took my soft crate, my grooming table, arm and brushes/combs/scissors.  Pocket cheese treats were a bonus too.  We bought a collapsing sackbarrow trolley to carry everything in.

When we got there it became pretty clear we were the “budget end” of exhibitors… Mummy even had to scrounge a safety pin from another human to attach my ring number to her jacket…!  We were near the Wire Fox Terriers, and we observed lots of things we should buy/upgrade…

We now have:

  • IMG_0390A Titan Dog Trolley (its a grooming table on wheels that doubles as a sturdy secure crate)
  • A special ring clip for fastening our ring number to mummy
  • A benching chain (like a double ended lead, to attach me to a bench for benched shows)
  • A special grooming bag with partitions to keep everything in order
  • Special conditioning fursprays and a towel for my inevitable full face-dunk when i have a drink
  • A tweed show outfit for mummy which is in a complementary colour to my fur
  • Rubber-soled smart show shoes so that mummy doesnt tap her way around the show ring.
  • A professional groomer (in London, to give me a top notch pre-show groom… see below.  Dogs Delight in Chiswick.  Julie is an award-winning groomer specialising in Terriers who need hand stripping.  That’s me in the photo, by the way…! Hondsome!IMG_0522

 

Oxfordshire Show

show5Second Show ever.  Another Open show, another AVNSC class.  This time the Oxfordshire And District Canine Society on 5 March 2017.  More on offer for AV Terriers here, so we entered me into Postgraduate Dog and Open Dog.  I was the only entrant in AVNSC PGD and won the class, only to come third (!) in Open.

When you win a class, that entitles you to be judged ‘best of’ AV alongside the winners of all the other classes within that group.  If you win best AV, you then get judged alongside all the other breeds to become Best Terrier, and so on and so forth until Best in Show (like Crufts, yeah?).

What mummy didn’t realise is that if you win one class and then don’t come first in another, you’re a beaten dog, so you can’t move up the judging scale.  We should have withdrawn after winning PGD.

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But at least we won a class!  And daddy even came to this one!  He took pictures.

Onwards!

Bucks Open Show

So my first show was on Saturday 28 January 2017, after only 3 ringcraft classes…

show3There are a range of different types of show, primarily Open and Championship, the main difference being that at Championships you can get CH qualifications and often, at Open, you can’t.  Then there are Breed-specific Open/Championship shows.  In each Show, you enter by “type” of dog, so Working/Terrier/Toy/Utility and so on.  I’m a Terrier, obviously.  Within type, you enter either a Breed Class, so that might be, in my case Welsh Terrier, or if your breed isn’t represented, AV or AVNSC (Any Variety and Any Variety Not Separately Classified).  At large Open shows, I’m generally in AVNSC because there are too few Welshies around the UK show circuit to put on a specialist judge for the breed.  That means I could be up against any terrier… Within your breed class (or AV), you enter the class representing your age, sex and show qualifications thus far, based on number of wins/rankings.  So if you’re new, you might be a Novice Dog.  You could enter any class above that too, so Limit Dog, Open Dog – but other dogs who have had a certain number of wins can’t come back down the chain to enter a class open only to dogs with fewer wins – so that’s good for newbies.

In the Bucks show, I was in AVNSC OD (Open Dog) as there were few other classes available for judging.  It was a class of 2, and my competition was a Champion Manchester Terrier…

show4I was judged on my stand, my movement, my alertness as a terrier and my structure… I didn’t beat the Manchester Terrier, but that was ok.  I came second in my first ever show!

What did we learn:

  • That every dog has a “show side” and this is their best profile, so it doesnt really matter if you’re facing left or right in the ring, so long as you are showing your best side.
  • Paw placement is important.  A correct natural stand (stack) will make everything else fall into place, but this starts with the paws.
  • That grooming is a hugely significant part of showing, and a half-hearted groom won’t show off your best features.
  • That people have “show outfits” and mummy needed to up her tweed game.

Starting a Show Career

In January, we started going to Ringcraft classes.  Primarily to socialise me better after I got into a few fights over the Summer last year.  Also, I quite like ‘standing’ and everyone always said how nicely I stood.  After all, 90% of a dog show is just standing in a lineup, right?!  I’ve attended Crufts before, as a breed representative for Welsh Terriers in their Discover Dogs stands, and I always enjoyed that.  Mummy thought that would be all we’d ever manage.  Not so!

show1So, we started Monday night “school” with the Buckinghamshire Canine Society, who run ringcraft classes locally.  At just over 3 years old, I was almost certainly the oldest pupil there… mostly lots of puppies of various sizes.  And absolutely no other Welsh Terriers.  Lots of Italian Greyhounds, Frenchies, retrievers etc… In fact, I think I was the only terrier of any breed!

Safe to say, I absolutely LOVED it.  Like, really really loved it.  I was fed cheese cubes to stand nicely, I got to meet other dogs who liked to stand around, and got touched by strangers.  The Society were holding a show later that month, so I got entered into that…

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Chuck for Crufts Champion 2018

We’ve not updated our website in over a year.  Sorry about that!  We: moved house, moved kennel, moved jobs and have had much to do…

One of these things was turning me (me!) into a Show Dog.  That’s right, a full-on, ring-trained champion.  We started by attending local ringcraft classes once a week.  Mummy’s vision was to one day qualify for Crufts.  One day.

That day took less time than expected, as it happens.  It took precisely 4 months and 4 shows to qualify… Mummy is still in shock…

So my blog will get updated a little more regularly than before, will lots of interesting news about my flourishing show career!