Going to your very first dog show as an exhibitor is exciting and nerve-wracking! No matter how many times you’ve watched from ringside it’s nothing like being in the ring yourself. So what was it really like?
You don’t get the day’s schedule until a week before the show, and our class was at 10:45am. It’s 3hr from Bremerton to St Helens plus an hour for traffic, and we wanted to be there an hour early, so we left at 6am. This was perfect! On Fri after work I prepped our food for Sat since we were leaving so early: buttermilk peach pancakes, bacon, sausage, chocolate cream cupcakes, and PB&J. I also picked out my show clothes, packed Wally’s bag o’ stuff, and found the camping chairs so I wouldn’t feel too rushed in the morning.
For once we left right on time and picked up Sandi in Puyallup (she was my cheerleader). Wally was thrilled to find Sandi in the backseat, he literally crawled over my seat to get to her. I had managed to run Wally up and down a few blocks before we left, and we played the recall game at a rest stop, so he was pretty low key during the trip.
We showed up over an hour early just to settle in and make sure Wally didn’t need any last minute wearing out. That was really important to plan for since he can be a real wild-man; know your dog and plan accordingly! Wayne arrived at the same time, which was convenient! We staked out the ring and I changed into my show clothes, then Isaac and I ate breakfast. About 30min before showtime we checked in with the steward. I had a vague recollection that you’re not supposed to say your dogs name (in case the judge overhears) so I had to peek at the catalog for my number. Then we waited.
We were due for 10:45am but there were 5 other breeds before us. Since this was a pretty small show that turned out to be 5 dogs, so about 15min of waiting. I didn’t think I was nervous but then my stomach clenched and my legs were a little shakey. Apparently I was more nervous than I thought! Wally was being a stud, chilling in the shade and not barking at all. Thankfully Wayne was watching the pattern of the judge since I was busy mentally checking out (musta been the nerves). Definitely show with a mentor!
Finally it was our turn. The steward called out “Border Terrier, 6-9 month dogs” and we crossed the threshold from wannabe to doing it! The judge pleasantly explained what she wanted me to do and I only vaguely heard her. This is where the nerves showed. We gaited around the ring and then I stacked Wally on the table. He did fantastic and didn’t shrink away from the judge (something I’ve seen lots of Borders do). We won of course, being the only one in the class, and in a daze I led him out of the ring. But it didn’t stop there!
This is when being a newbie can be a real pain and I was really grateful to have Wayne (and an unknown but incredibly nice handler) there. Because Wally had won I had to wait for the other class male (in Open) to show. After he finished I was to enter the ring and stack behind him for the Winners Dog class. So in we went and I again only vaguely heard what the judge said. Fortunately I DID hear her say “Winners Dog” and point to us!
Since we were WD we again had to wait, now for Best of Breed. Jazzy did her round in the ring and then we entered the ring for the last time, this time going in front of her. We gaited around and then were supposed to free stack. I spaced and started hand stacking, d’oh! Jazzy got BOB and BOW, Wally got BOS. So we both came away with 1 point each towards our majors. The time in the ring goes by so fast it feels like seconds (partly because there was a small entry of course), and I’m so glad we practiced our handling so much. Having that on auto was a real lifesaver, and hopefully next time I can be mindful enough in the ring to actually hear the judge and retain what they say!
Wayne asked if I wanted a win photo and I was all “what? YEAH!” I mean, you only have your first win at your first show with your first show dog once! So we waited around and finally did the photo. Apparently there’s a way to do that too. You stack the dog, then roll up the leash and hold it bundled in your hand. The photographer tosses a toy and snaps the pick while the judge stands next to you holding your ribbon(s).
Then you go home. As Wayne predicted Wally was totally pooped and was a floppy dog for the rest of the day.
And now? Now Wally is a REAL show dog! :)