[ SHOWGSD-L ] Thank-You For Teaching the Newbie

  • From: Jami Vander Kooi <thekooiet@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Showgsd-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 10:36:04 -0700 (PDT)

*Names have been changed to protect those involved. ;)
Coming into the dog show world in your late 20â??s is like a flashback to the
high school class you dreaded the most (for me, that would have been
algebra.) Too much information results in severe cranial overload thus
causing cold sweats, glazing over, and eventually a total-body shut
down. Sure, Iâ??m being overly dramatic, but seriously, as a newbie, it
really hurts the brain. Terms and numbers like gait, stack, dog number
216 (what? who?), agent, angulation, and names like â??Ch.Twizzlemanâ??s
Confuse the Newbie of Winfredsue TC CDX LMNOP QRST,â?? etc are thrown
around in the assumption that itâ??s everyday table talk. People make
these strange noises with their mouths that sound like a snake during
CPR. Thereâ??s obnoxious cheering, and sometimes even occasional crying.
And then thereâ??s the B word. Goodness gracious thereâ??s so much foul
language at a dog show! â??6-9 Puppy Bitches to the Ready Ring!â?? Quick
cover your childrenâ??s ears! After the first mention of the poor little
female puppies, the B word keeps flying around all afternoon. 

clearly remember the drive home and the aftermath of our first visit to
a dog show a few years back. My middle daughter, Ashley, who was 4 at
the time, had a knack for picking up peculiar statements and mannerisms
from other people in our life. In the 3 hour drive home, we had to
explain to her that the B word was not okay to say around other people
outside of dog shows. We thought we had everything thoroughly explained
in 4 year old language, until we heard that sweet little child
enthusiastically recapping the day to her grandma on the cell phone,
â??Grandma we saw a bunch of bitches today!â?? 

The sights at a dog
show are as equally confusing, if not more, as the sounds. You see dogs
followed by a blur of a person running around square rings which is a
bewilderment in itself because weâ??ve always been taught that rings are
round. The people following the dog are wearing dress clothes with
tennis shoes! What a fashion faux pas! They have dog brushes and combs
in strange places which include the back pants pocket, dress coat
pocket, down the back back of their pants, and once I even saw a dog
comb resting the personâ??s own ponytail. Ick.

These people then set
the dogs in this position which reminds me of movie stars being
photographed at a premiere or a model on a runway. One foot out in
front of the other and a slight turn to the side makes the model or
star appear thinner; itâ??s their best pose. All the dogs must be feeling
fat in the rear that day because the front feet stay in a parallel
position, and the back feet strike the modelesque pose. These dogs are
very, very vogue. 

And finally, we get to the most confusing
part of the show. So, I understood Winners Dog and Winners (um, here
comes the B word again!) Bitch, but when they all get together in the
Winnerâ??s Round, thatâ??s above and beyond my metal capacity. If the
Winners Dog gets picked before the girl dog, then he is the Best of
Winners, and then sheâ??s the Best Opposite, but if you throw a few dogs
in the end that have the little Ch. before there name in the catalog,
well, that really messes everything up. Best of Breed, Best of Winners,
and best Opposite are so confusing to the newbie. Letâ??s just stick with
the puppies, shall we? Thereâ??s only two of those that can be picked for
the titles Best Puppy and Best Opposite. Whatâ??s worse is the Reserve
Winners Dog or Reserve Winners Bitch. Isnâ??t that just a nice way of
saying â??Always a Brideâ??s Maid, never a Bride?â??

Every club needs
to have a graph, pie chart, or spread sheet ready to show the newbies
how the winning works. Personally, I prefer pie charts, but for this, a
normal boring chart works the best. However, please make it pretty
colors as itâ??s easier for an overloaded brain to digest. Talking it
through just does NOT work for most normal people. (More than 65% of
the population are visual learners.) So, please donâ??t even attempt a
verbal explanation to the newbie. It will truly be a waste of precious
breath. Break out the charts. Please. 

Itâ??s funny for me to
look back at my first dog show experience. Now just 4 years later, it
almost all feels like second nature. I now know why those dog chasers
(aka handlers) have to wear tennis shoes. I canâ??t even imagine running
after dogs in heals in a grassy field. Iâ??ve done it once on cement, and
itâ??s just not a smart idea. I understand most of the terminology. Iâ??ve
read through the breed standard at least 100 times, and I can mostly
pick out correct movement and breed type. I know what happens to the
Winnerâ??s Dog or Winners Bitch if they get beat out by a Special in the
end; the Special goes Best of Breed. I know why Reserve Winners is an
important title. Those reserve dogs will go on to win one day. I donâ??t
even know why I missed that years ago, but I know that I did. 

enjoy sitting by my new friends that I've made over the past few years, who are 
old hats at this sport, to
listen to running commentary about each dog as it goes around the ring.
My friends have made something so confusing something wonderful and
exciting. Thank-you, my dog show friends, for being patient and kind.
For showing me the ropes of this strange new world which is only
strange and new to people like me. Thank-you for teaching me the art of
the fancy. 

Jami Vander Kooi
Wolverine German Shepherd Dog Club of West Michigan 
Club Secretary

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