ShowSight Presents The Australian Shepherd

WITH REGI BRYANT, JUDY HARRINGTON, JEFF MARGESON, FLO MCDANIEL, SUSAN MOOREHEAD, JOYCE SIDDALL & JULI WISEMAN

of dog they will choose when judging. A judge can only judge what is presented to them on that day. You can never stop learning. Discuss with fellow breeders, critique, etc. JH: My comment would be as a judge; I check the bite on puppy classes last. I find it to be far more efficient and easier on the puppy and exhibitor. Often they are set up and start moving around when having their mouth checked. They will usually hold the stack while being examined and then I don’t care if they sit or move after, I’ve gotten a good and efficient exam done! JM: Last year, I wrote a post on social media that received an extraordinary positive response. It related to an inquiry I received from a young man who had a litany of questions about our breed, ending with, “What does it take to be a successful breeder and exhibitor?” As I started to put thoughts to paper for my response, something quite interesting occurred to me. Had I been asked this question 15 years ago, my list of requirements to attain success in the world of purebred dogs would have included foundational items such as researching pedigrees, ensuring you have safe housing, understand- ing animal husbandry, and making friends with a good Veterinarian, among others. While all of these are abso- lutely critical, after many years of honestly analyzing my own personal journey as well as watching many others, I would add a few other less obvious components to obtain success not only “in dogs”, but in a life with dogs. • Get your priorities straight. The world of dogs can quickly become a singular all-consuming focus. Force yourself to find balance. If you don’t have family and friends to share your successes, it’s going to be a long, lonely journey. • Don’t use the world of dogs to boost your self-esteem. If you want to show dogs to bolster your ego, you are setting yourself up for a short-term high. At the moment you are handed that ribbon, it’s easy to have an inflated sense of accomplishment. But every week- end of every year, people are handed lots of ribbons. Statistics will come, and statistics will go. Records will be broken. • Strive to make a difference, inside and outside of the show ring. Teach a Junior Handling class, become part of a therapy dog program, volunteer with your local dog club, get involved with your local kennel club and your parent club. • Be a nice person. Be a good person. The dog show world is not for the faint of heart. Competition can bring out the very best, and unfortunately the very worst in people. Regardless of the hurdles you will encounter, and despite how challenging it is to remain positive when staring down adversity, put a smile on your face, take a deep breath, and remember why what got you here… the relationship between you and your dog. FM: I have had a passion for dogs my entire life. I’m 61 years old now and I’ve loved this breed for 36 years. I will always love the Australian Shepherd and I hope to

see it thrive, continue to get healthier and allow it to be enjoyed for many years to come. I have witnessed several breeds to almost become extinct in my years with show- ing dogs. I hope that does not happen to my breed, yet I hope that it does not become so popular that we suffer. SM: Every dog entered has paid its entry so be courteous as fellow exhibitor or judge. Exhibitors train your dogs before showing not only what is expected of them but also of strangers approaching (even incorrectly) and touching them. Never stop learning if your interest/dedi- cation truly lies in the breed. Don’t expect it to be easy, as all things worthwhile take effort and hard work. JS: Never stop learning. I think it is important to have other breeders and judges “talk dogs”. There is a group of us that meet regularly and talk about different items each time. We do litter evaluations and have other people come and talk to their specialty. I go to every dog event I can squeeze in, even in breeds I may never judge. I think the more we learn the better breeders, exhibitors and judges we become. JW: Be helpful to all. Be honest without being hurtful. Sup- port each other. Everyone was new at one point—don’t forget what that felt like and teach like you wanted to be taught or were taught. Never be afraid to learn and never be afraid to admit you do not know something. Always remain humble. 7. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? JM: If I had a dime for every time an overzealous young male dog mistook his handler’s leg for a fire hydrant (inevitably as they were about to walk into the ring), I’d be a wealthy man. FM: The funniest thing I ever saw was at a show many years ago. There was a very popular longtime breeder showing her dog and while she was showing, her slip was falling down around her ankles. She very nonchalantly stopped, stepped out of the slip and threw it outside of the ring, but it got caught on the ring gait and hung like a flag, fly- ing in the wind. It was hysterical! JS: A few years ago, I was judging an ACSA show in Utah. I had a peewee handler enter the ring. She presented her dog for me to go over. I asked her to show me teeth. She looked at me, looked at the dog and showed me her teeth in a very big grin! I smiled and said, “Take your dog in a small circle.” She said, “Big circle,” and took off! It taught me to be more specific. I now ask if I may see the dog’s teeth! JW: So that I can laugh at myself, I was new and at an outdoor show in the pouring rain. The rings were at the bottom of a slope with the red clay mud puddling at the rings making it impossible to keep a dog clean. My dog was groomed and carried to the ring to keep her as clean as possible. I set her down as we were to go in the ring and the first thing she did was lie down in the wet and mud. I was horrified to be presenting a “dirty dog” and very apologetic. The judge was very nice and said they all get dirty when herding to try and put me at ease.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2017 • 255

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