Friday, July 20, 2012

Taking the Plunge

T.A.R.D.I.S.' breeder recently contacted me, highlighting an upcoming UKC Conformation event. She urged me to consider entering him - he is just now over a year old, and I have yet to show him, after all.

I'm a little hesitant - while I've been in several classes to learn how to show in Conformation, I don't feel that I'm really ready. I don't doubt my dog, I don't think anything could phase him - but I've turned into a nervous nellie.

For starters, he is registered with AKC, not UKC. However, the UKC is kind enough to allow me to use a Temporary Listing number to put him in the show, and afterwards, I can register him fully and keep the points that he earns towards his title.

Now again, I've mentioned I'm a complete novice at this right now. However, T.A.R.D.I.S. has matured wonderfully. He really is a gorgeous dog, and I full admit that I am possibly a little bias in this evaluation.

Being that I am fairly new to the event - the first thing I decided to was to contact the secretary of the event and ask questions - and to help any other future competitors, I thought I'd share them with you.

  1. Who should handle him? I wasn't sure if I should use a professional handler, if the breeder should handle him, or if I could get a Junior handler. I learned by asking that first of all, Professional Handlers are not allowed in this event. My options would then be myself, a fellow competitor, or possibly a Junior handler. While she gave me several options, she also stressed that I should consider showing him myself. The UKC encourages owner-handlers as much as possible, and that showing your dog and helping them perform can help build your bond. I loved the answer she provided - and I am considering having someone else show him the first time so that I can observe, and then show him myself for the other three events.
  2. How should I dress? I have looked up several videos of conformation on YouTube and I have seen various styles of dress. I was told that I should dress to impress the judge. Wearing colors like blue can help put the idea that you want first place, however I should take care not to distract the judge from my dog. T.A.R.D.I.S. is primarily black and white, so she suggested not wearing either black or white pants, to avoid him being hidden or 'disapearing' into my clothing. She also said to keep that in mind for a shirt as well, as corgis will be placed on the table. She mentioned to me that while people may dress as they feel comfortable, a business casual attire is probably a best recommendation, along with flat, comfortable shoes.
  3. What kind of lead should the dog wear? I have been in classes and I've seen various things being used, but I wanted to know what is really appropriate. Between the secretary and my breeder, I have learned that I should look for a small, thin slip lead or leather lead, and I can borrow one from my breeder until I choose to get my own. She also warned that prongs are not allowed in the ring, but I don't use one on T.A.R.D.I.S. so I have no issues here.
  4. Should I have him professionally groomed, or can I do this myself? This question, varies greatly on breed. If I had, say, a poodle, I may want to have him professionally groomed unless I am experienced in working with that type of hair. Since T.A.R.D.I.S. is a corgi, he won't require much more than a bath, a good brushing, nail trip and making sure his ears are clean. My breeder has offered to help me prep him for the show so I know exactly what needs to be done for future events.

I would also like to point out that my breeder has been absolutely invaluable as a resource, and is everything I could have hoped for. She has helped me in training, ensuring that I am familiar with the breed and what to expect, and helping me prepare for showing him. She has been helpful in determining at which point a puppy tooth should be pulled, and continues to encourage me to further our own education and abilities.

I'm forever grateful to her for this wonderful dog, and all of the information she provides.

I hope someone else can find this information helpful, if you're just getting started. I haven't done this before, but it seems like so far, the UKC is a much more laid back environment, which may be the key to getting your feet wet in showing dogs in Conformation. I'll continue to share my experiences as I move forward in training and showing this wonderful little dog.

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