Well I did it but I am exhausted! Every year my dog club hosts two days of specialty shows combined with two days of “all breed” shows. This year, my “puppy” (9 months old) qualified for the sweepstakes class. In this class, the owner of record needs to be the person handling the dog in the ring. It was one of my goals to handle my sweet girl, Pixel, in this class both days of at my club’s specialty shows.
Although I did “train” Pixel ahead of time, it is very hard for a young dog to be taken to a large dog show such as these shows as her “first shows ever”! That was my first mistake. Normally and in the past, we would have taken a new puppy to several smaller shows to give him/her ring experience with the routine and the chance to get used to the sights and sounds of so many other dogs in near proximity. I recognized my error almost immediately that first day when sweet Pixel became overwhelmed by the situation. My mistake! Still, determined to make the best of things, we muscled through the two days of shows.
While I might have been able to show Pixel in regular classes myself; a requirement of showing in sweepstakes classes, I had hired a professional handler to show her in those classes. This meant I just needed to be able to run around the ring once per day with my sweet, semi-trained puppy. We arrived at the show grounds and were invited to “set up” next to another club member. Very grateful to be included in her space and camaraderie, we enjoyed cheering each other on as we each showed our individual dogs in their entered classes. It was nice to see so many club members in attendance and see all the new dogs competing at this year’s specialty shows. The hustle and bustle of a dog show where everyone is so concentrated on “their dogs” made it easy for me to blend into the background. A few members acknowledged my appearance and inquired about my health but for the most part, they were caught up in their own agendas which was fine by me.
Pixel won her class of three dogs both days. While she is “out of coat”; a demerit to her appearance in the show ring, she held her “stay” for the judge; didn’t budge when her teeth were examined, and glided around the ring with the beautiful movement I know she has. Could she have been more “flashy”? Sure but that comes with experience in the ring. I was incredibly proud to be the one at the other end of the lead showing my beautiful puppy who has a very bright future in the show ring.
As for me, I had both knees injected with a steroid shot the night before the shows. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed a knee injection (over two years) but with the practicing and training, my knees were letting me know they didn’t appreciate the pounding. As for my back, I wore a brace to stabilize my lower spine. Knowing it hasn’t healed from my spine fusion and that the correction achieved initially after my spine fusion last November has been lost, I wanted to help it as much as I could. What I really wanted to be able to do is to concentrate on my puppy without being in pain myself and for the most part, I achieved that. In the big scheme of things does it change anything? Not really. But I accomplished something I set out to accomplish for this puppy and for myself. I’m thrilled with that.
There are two more days of “shows” that both Pixel and my other girl are entered in with my professional handler. It was so hard to “walk away” from them leaving them in very capable hands to be shown the following days. For Pixel, she will get the “show dog” experience we haven’t been able to give her and for my other girl, she will get shown to hopefully win the last few points she needs for her championship title. But at home again, it is very quiet as we miss these two dogs running through the yard. And this morning as the hectic pace of a new day of dog showing starts, I am thinking of both of my dogs; missing both of my dogs.
Very few of my club members realize what an under-taking it was to show Pixel in sweepstakes. Why? Because I don’t whine about my health problems. And I pulled it off in relatively little pain showing Pixel which, of course, was the goal. I am thankful for my dear hubby who made this possible with the packing and loading of all the “stuff” needed for a typical dog show and who championed my efforts each day. But back home, I’m exhausted! That is when I can let go of the pain from the effort of showing my dog. Was it worth it? Hmm?? I accomplished what I set out to accomplished back before I even had my spine fusion done. So yeah… I did it!