OWNER HANDLER FIRSTS
THE FIRST SHOW DOG BRINGS MANY FIRSTS
BY DAN SAYERS
E very owner handler’s start “in dogs” is a series of firsts. First-time exhibitors take great pride in receiving the first registration certificate for our first show dog. That first pup introduces us to our first show handling class, our first show collar and lead, and our first (hopefully, gentle) cri- tique. We enter our first dog show by reviewing a premium list for the first time, and we receive our very first judging program in return. We arrive at our first show with our very first case of dog show jitters, and we fumble with our first armband right before our first venture into the show ring. Though fledgling owner handlers can be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the “newness” of it all, most of us eventually learn that each “first” is quickly replaced by knowledge and experience. And experienced owner handlers understand that participation in the sport of dogs is a never-ending series of firsts, marked by rib- bons, rosettes—and many rewards. THE FIRST SHOW DOG Nobody forgets their first show dog. Whether we are six years old or sixty-five when we begin our purebred dog journey, our first show quality pup can often lead us in a direction that we’ll follow for the rest of our lives. Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, our first show dog is a natural with type and temperament to spare. This dog’s good form and joie des vivre can translate into show ring suc- cess as well as lead to its status as a top producer. In most cases, however, our first show dog serves as a patient and forgiving part- ner, sharing in the experience as we make mistakes and measure ourselves against the competition. Although our first show dog’s role could be that of our first Best in Show winner, it is more likely that it will simply provide us with a firm foundation for the future. THE FIRST MENTOR The breeder of our first show dog often becomes our first men- tor, if only through circumstance. As our journey into the world of the purebred dog begins, our dog’s breeder can be a great source of information about both the breed and the sport. A breeder’s expe- rience can offer the novice owner handler solutions to problems that are breed-specific, saving a lot of time and avoiding potential heartache. The breeder’s wisdom can also provide much-needed direction should the future—and the entry forms—seem daunt- ing. As a mentor, our dog’s breeder can introduce us to aspects of the sport that might otherwise go unnoticed due to our inexperi- ence. Likewise, a good breeder-mentor can become a sort of parent figure, offering guidance when needed, and allowing us to figure some things out on our own.
WE ENTER OUR FIRST DOG SHOW BY REVIEWING A PREMIUM LIST FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND WE RECEIVE OUR VERY FIRST JUDGING PROGRAM IN RETURN. WE ARRIVE AT OUR FIRST SHOW WITH OUR VERY FIRST CASE OF DOG SHOW JITTERS, AND WE FUMBLE WITH
OUR FIRST ARMBAND RIGHT BEFORE OUR FIRST VENTURE INTO THE SHOW RING.
THE FIRST POINT It can be a surreal moment when a judge points to our owner- handled dog for the first time. Time can seem suspended as the reality of the win sinks in. Our reaction might be one of euphoria, an explosion of emotions as our young dog leaps into our arms. But it can just as likely be one of bewilderment. We might be asking ourselves, “Did that really just happen?” Only the congratulatory handshakes from our competitors offer proof that, indeed, it did. That first single championship point can be the most significant point that an owner handler ever earns. It represents proof that the dog is worthy of being considered, and it suggests that we have what it takes to succeed in the ring. If we’re smart, we’ll get a photo of the win to inspire us to set new goals and achieve new firsts.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021 | 179
Powered by FlippingBook