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Table Talk · January 25, 2023


I often hear owner-handlers express their frustration about competing with professionals.  This is not a new topic of discussion at dog shows. It has been a common source of complaints for decades.  I want to share some great wisdom from a long-time, very talented and experienced fancier.

Bonnie Threlfall wrote the following after watching the streaming of English Cocker Spaniel judging at the American Spaniel Club:

For What It Is Worth:

If you are an owner handler (I have always been), when your class is over, why don’t you praise your dog and make a fuss over him, no matter what the result?  Even during the class while you wait your turn?

Folks line up at the placings (or when waiting their turn in line) and the good handlers (professional and amateur) are patting their dogs, telling them good dog, playing with them, etc.  They reward them for being in the ring.  They are forward-thinking and kind, and want their dog to enjoy being in the ring and bring sparkle and enthusiasm with them.  Others go over to the placings or leave the ring, just standing there, ignoring their dogs, talking ringside or just stare into space.  Why would a dog enjoy being in the ring?  You reward them in performance events, what is wrong with the breed ring?  This is a lot of the reason why professionals do so well…they make it fun for the dogs!!

The other obvious thing was watching folks walk out of the ring.  You are in the ring with your dog. You struggle to keep his head up. The dog is on a tight lead, gagging and choking.  The class is placed, and you drop the tension on the lead and walk out of the ring with your dog sniffing the floor (and the dog is not being told he is a good dog).  The dog wanders about sniffing the floor for dropped bait, on a loose lead and you may even stumble over him.  Great lesson and experience for the dog?  Not!  After your ring time you go back to your set-up and complain about handlers or faces winning.

Think about your dog.  Pay attention to him/her.  Make it fun.  Use a show lead only in the ring.  Use a different lead to walk to and from the ring.  If it is crowded, carry your dog to the ring if possible.

Thank you for the words of wisdom Bonnie! Perhaps exhibitors can have a friend video them in the ring so they can evaluate how they might change their approach to make the experience fun so the dog enjoys being there.  Remember:  it is a dog SHOW.  We want our dogs to look their best, and they look their best when they are happy!!

During the Portland shows, a van with four dogs inside was stolen.  After a grueling 24 hours, the dogs were found and safely returned.  It was a happy ending to a very scary event.  Fortunately, a man was on his way to work and noticed the van. He stopped and found the dogs still inside in their crates.  He took them out, gave them water and brought them back to the hotel to be reunited with their owners!!

I have a suggestion for exhibitors who leave dogs in their vehicles.  Put Apple or Android air tags on your dogs, on their crates, and on your vehicle.  Many are now using these tags when dogs are flown underneath on planes.  It may make it easier to find your dog(s) in the event of an unfortunate occurrence!

Many of you have been anxiously awaiting the release of the reserved grooming form for the Kentuckiana Cluster in March.  Those of you early birds who would like to submit your form can find the PDF on Nina Fetter’s Facebook page.

June may seem like a lifetime away, but it will be here before you know it!  The RV reservation form for Woofstock, held June 7-11, is now available.  The form can be found on Bert Rettick’s Facebook page.

Dana Cline is home recovering from quadruple bypass surgery.  Get well soon, my friend.  We are looking forward to having you back center ring soon!

Keith Olsen is home from a brief “re-visit” to the hospital.  Take it easy, my friend.  We are glad that you are on the mend!

Many of you have enjoyed the humor that Elizabeth Salewsky and Crom have shared with us through the ‘Cromicles’ on Canine Chronicle TV.  Crom and Elizabeth need our support now as Crom has been under the weather and is currently being treated at Animal Clinic of Northview in Ohio.  Feel better soon, buddy! Hang in there Elizabeth….we are all pulling for you guys!!

Congratulations to Maddie and Adam Peterson on the birth of Hudson Timothy Peterson born January 20, 2023 at 8 lbs. 6 oz.  The family is now home to begin their wonderful journey.

Fanciers celebrating birthdays this week are:  Marcelo Veras, Dick Schaefer, Kristen Dowd, David Cook, John Wade, Penny Kretchmer and Dominic Carota.  May you all have a wonderful day celebrating with friends and loved ones.

My thought for the week (actually, for 2023) is this:  How fortunate are we that we get to do life, right here, right now, with the people new get to do life with?  We are off this earth far longer than we are on it.  Find some good today, some magic today, some love today.  Find some hope today!!

Be safe in your travels, my friends!  I will see you soon down the road.  Until next time…

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