Monday, December 14, 2009

Report from the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships dog show

We arrived at the show at about 10:30 Saturday morning, just in time to get oriented and show up at the ring where the Borzois were being shown at 11:00am. There were 27 Borzois entered, and every one of them was beautiful. My friend Kay Novatny was there with her beautiful white and black boy, “Tie”, who is the dog who made me fall in love with this breed. Tie and Kay were in my agility class through the SPCA-LA and for 8 weeks I got to hang with them while waiting for our turn (I was in the class with Toby, my blue merle Sheltie). I soon felt like I was stalking her, because I just could not get enough of Tie. I truly have Kay to thank for ushering me into the world of Borzoi.

So they were in the ring, as was my own breeder, Marilyn McGraw, and her son, Stuart. Marilyn was showing Spark, who is with her for a year from Japan, where he became the number one Borzoi in that country. Her dog, Hunter (who is the father (sire) of my Borzoi, Bella) became the number one dog in the US, and he is now in Japan being shown there for a year or so.

By the way, considering how huge Borzoi are, and how space-constrained Japan is, I asked Marilyn why Borzoi were so popular there. She explained that the Japanese culture deeply reveres beauty, and they consider the Borzoi to be a stunningly beautiful breed (I would have to agree). So despite their space limitations they are in love with the breed. Spark is a gorgeous white and black male, and I expect him to become very successful on the show circuit under Marilyn’s handling. Here is an older photo of her with Hunter.

We met up with our friends Cindy Chiles and Helmut Fischer, and enjoyed watching the Havanese breed being shown. They adopted an adorable (slightly oversized) Havanese from Rover Rescue about a year ago, and it just goes to show what wonderful dogs are available through rescue groups. Their dog, Buddy, has the cutest personality I’ve ever met. And he’s adorable to look at.

There were lots of vendors at the show, including some beautiful collar vendors, though for hound collars my favorite is still 2 Hounds Design (which you can only get online). DogWise was there, and they have an unparalled selection of dog training books. I was in training heaven.

The “meet the breed” section was lots of fun—different breed groups were each invited to set up a booth, and they decorated it and often came in costume with their dogs to allow the public to meet the dogs and learn about the breed. For example, the club for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi came dressed as Welsh shepherdesses (they called themselves wenches!) and they each had a dog to share with interested people. They were quite a hit. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel booth had folks dressed as the king and queen, with CKCS’s snoozing on their laps (which is exactly what the dogs did in the court where they were developed!). There were a few Scottie puppies and I fell completely in love with them. There were also a few NEW breeds, which just became recognized by the AKC this past January.

The obedience section was great fun to watch and this the agility rings are the areas where I see the connection between the dogs and their owners really shine. Formal obedience competition is not growing in popularity, partially I think because it requires a level of drilling and practice far beyond what most casual dog owners are interested in. The foundation behaviors are great, but I prefer to work with folks on “real world” obedience, such as teaching a dog to maintain a down-stay at a Starbucks table even though another dog walks close by and sniffs at him. THAT is a useful skill. Coming when called is important, though I don’t care if the dog is sitting perfectly straight in front of me when he comes (whereas in competitive obedience, it matters). There is a newer form of less-strict obedience called Rally that is growing in popularity with more dog owners today, and I’ll write about that in a future post.

Overall, the show was a lot of fun, and Sunday night a Scottish Terrier was crowned the Best in Show.

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