Friday, November 9, 2007

The low down on Poodles in AKC Conformation

I got into showing dogs because I loved dogs and I wanted to make new friends that liked the same kind of dogs I did. Sure I wouldn't turn down winning once in a while, but I wanted friends to hang out with on weekends. Silly me, the other people were showing dogs because they want to win that ribbon and finish their dog’s championship. I’m not saying that when the judges pointed at me for winners, my heart didn’t jump and I didn’t float around the rest of the ring, I did. Boy I did. I would have loved to finished my dogs championships. As it was I quit when Morgan was half way there and Cruise had three points. Winning is really cool. I am just not cut throat and I was not expecting to have my throat cut.

Hold on to your seats folks, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Things get dirty in showing dogs. In poodles, we have more ways to stack the deck in our favor than other breeds because of their trim. Many add extra chunks of hair (called “wiggies” or “pieces”) to their poodle’s top knot to make it look fuller. Often the black and brown dogs you see in the ring are that nice rich color because of Miss Clairol. Yep it takes quite a few bottles, but owners dye the dogs hair to cover up mismarks, or fading color. Dog a little on the thin side and won’t eat? Force feed them. Bad nose pigment? Just grab a marker or some shoe polish to cover up that fault. Tail not set and carried at exactly 12 o’clock? Surgically repair it. Don’t think the judge knows who you are? Hire a professional handler to take your dog in. If the judge is a middle aged man, the best choice would be a hot young thing with her bra straps loosened so she gets a nice bounce as she moves the dog around the ring. It also helps if the judge is good friends with professional handler too. Often judges forget to look at the bottom end of the leash where the dog is, instead as they examine the class of dogs in front of them, they look at who is handling the dogs to figure out who they owe a favor to or who may be able to help them get their next judging assignment.

These are all things I witnessed while showing dogs. I was not a saint when it comes to following the rules by any means, I will confess to force feeding Morgan to keep her in a good weight to be shown (she is a really fussy eater). I really regret it because she hates me for doing that to her. I would also use hairspray to put my dog’s topknot together. Each one of the things I mentioned are illegal according to the rules of the Poodle Club of America and AKC rules yet are done every day at every AKC dog show. Unfortunately, the desire to win, trumps all. Doesn’t matter who you hurt or what you have to do winning is what matters at the end of the day for most dog show people.

I finally woke up and realized that showing dogs despite having some fun, had many more drawbacks and wasn’t how I wanted to spend my free time. So, after a show this summer, I bowed out. I cut Cruise and Morgan down into pet trim and they are enjoying playing and roughhousing in the yard which are things they couldn’t do because of keeping their long hair in good condition to be shown. I’m sure neither of them misses having to spend 5 plus hours on the grooming table for their weekly bath and blow-dry either.

Have you had to make tough decisions to distance yourself from and unhealthy situation? When is it okay to be a quitter? I enjoyed the actual showing of the dogs, and if I go back to showing, it will be in obedience where you are judged on just you and your dog’s performance, not being compared as a group as in conformation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I showed a standard in the late 70's, put points on him myself, was told put him with a handler and he will finish, watched as judges' puppies were given points over him and then had the judge tell me don't give up on you dog. Was told by the breeder it just wasn't your turn today(didn't think we were talking turns. It is sad how many people have been turned off by the "dedicated show people" that go along with the system. I have had poodles since I was sixteen, all sizes and now I only rescue poodles. Very different scene in England.