For my pals:
With my love for the show ring, and posing all over the place, when mummy’s prep school asked for a dog to play the role of Nana in the Year 6 production of Peter Pan, she said I would audition. She was met with raised eyebrows. A terrier? In a school play? Oh no, no, no. Let’s audition the Labradors and all the other ‘family-friendly’ dogs first. So we waited our turn. We were last in the line.
With my Ringcraft training, I came out miles ahead of every other dog who auditioned. I got the part of Nana and joined a long established tradition of pantomime dames. I love the lights, sounds, children, audience… I’m so used to shows that the moment my show lead is slipped on, I switch on ‘dog show’ mode, whatever the arena, whoever the handler. I was handled exclusively by small children for four hour-long performances over the course of a week and performed perfectly every time.
I’m sorry to report that my fellow human cast were most disappointed that all the attention and plaudits were nearly exclusively for a young master Chuck Bennett. Star of the stage!
Not all shows offer rosettes, when you qualify for Crufts, you can apply for a qualification rosette as you don’t automatically get given one just for qualifying. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice touch. For many of us, it’s a big deal to even qualify.
So we got the rosette, it arrived in June, and I’m incredibly proud of it (and tried to eat it).
Buoyed by the blatant success of my hat-trick at the WT Club show, mummy blithely entered me for my first Championship Show without really doing any particular research about what a champ. show really was.
Breed clubs and associations typically run two shows a year, an open show and a champ show. The basic difference is that you can qualify for tickets (Challenge Certificates, for example) at a champ show. Three CCs from three different judges at three different shows makes you a Champion dog – so you can have CH before your name. You generally have to win at least Best of Breed to get the CC. That sort of explained why we saw some dogs appear at certain shows in the reports but not others. If you’re seriously looking at your CH – and you already have a CC from a certain judge, would you bother entering it again knowing that if you did get another CC from the same judge, it wouldn’t count towards your CH?
The number of points you win by coming first, second etc in things at champ shows means you can rack up points to get your Show Certificate of Merit (ShCM). Some Championship shows are Crufts Qualifiers. This one was.
So there are small championship shows which are breed specific and then you have general champ shows which are bigger, have many breeds, stakes classes etc. Some of these have CCs on offer for some breeds, some don’t. Only a certain number of CCs are available per breed per annum. This is based on the number of pups registered with the Kennel Club.
Anyway. We didn’t know any of that. We just knew our first champ show was also a Crufts Qualifier. We hadn’t read any of this document, which actually tells you what makes you qualify for Crufts entry. We just assumed if you won, you qualified. We thought it was really really really difficult to qualify and you’d have to at least win a CC.
Turns out, it’s really not as hard as that, but it can be more complicated.
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.
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…
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!
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:
- 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.
So my first show was on Saturday 28 January 2017, after only 3 ringcraft classes…
There 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…
I 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.