Ring Etiquette

As I see it, writes Madaleine Lewis


Ring Etiquette as I see it, writes Madaleine Lewis I have often heard it said that 'people who show dogs are frustrated actors/actresses' . Well, we all know that is not strictly true, but a degree of showmanship can be useful. I don't mean flaunting yourself, but being able to subtlety project your dog so the judge sees it to advantage in the short time you have to make an impression, This means firstly, I think, having a dog that's trained for the ring - ie can stand quietly for the judge to go over, check teeth etc, and then to move in whatever formation the judge requests. I would make an exception in the puppy classes as I think it's preferable to see a happy, outgoing puppy enjoying its day and bouncing around a bit than one that is so strictly schooled it looks like a robot. To achieve this it will really help if you start with a few visit to a training class while your dog is still very young - the socialisation and meeting of other breeds will be invaluable when you eventually get to a show, it should help avoid your puppy being too overwhelmed. The new rule of permitting puppies of 4 to 6 months to attend breed club shows is also extremely helpful. Assuming we have done all this - what next? I think a clean well groomed dog is essential - that means teeth and nails as well. I think it is insulting to the judge to take a dirty, knotty dog. This is a very highly competitive breed which these days is presented to an extremely high standard - preparation if the key word. Assuming the coat has been sort- ed, your dog needs to be in good body condition - not thin, not fat. Our Standard states 'sturdy' so we need good muscle tone as well - there's only one way to achieve this, dare I say it 'treading the boards'. You never know you may enjoy it - and your dog certainly will. 'If you fail to prepare': you have to prepare to fail' The majority of grooming is best done at home. We are not a trimmed breed but we do tidy feet, and a much better effect is achieved if this is done immediately after the dog has been bathed and dried. I do not like to see dogs arrive at a show and then be subjected to hours of grooming. If you watch most of the 'seasoned campaigners' you will notice that they just tidy their dog on arrival and then just before their class - that way the dog gets some rest. Where possible, it is good to watch some  judging and familiarise yourself with what the judge require - ie don't do an up-and-down if the judge has requested you to go round and join on the end; it's surprising how many people do.

Check if you need to collect your number from the benches, or know if collecting it in the ring.

 I think treats for the dog in the ring are fine, but don't pop one in its mouth as the judge is about to go over'it - mine always get one after they have done their bit.

I think it's worthwhile giving some thought to what you are wearing - try and choose a colour that complements that of your dogs - ie not black with a black dog, as the judge will not be able to assess its outline very easily; if you wear a long billowy skirt on a windy day the judge will not see your dog move at all!

Shoes should be comfortable and quiet - certain heels can be extremely noisy and very off-putting for the exhibit in front. I think consideration for other exhibitors is important - try not to get too close to the one in front or make noises of encouragement which attract every other dog in the class; always, but always, congratulate the winners.

I think people probably show dogs for different reasons. For me, I love the competitive element, although this differs from every other 'sport' I've been involved with, in that who wins or loses rests on just one person's opinion - therefore it shouldn't be taken too seriously; the added bonus being that you are having a day out with your dogs and like-minded people.

 If we can look back and smile, and look forward and dream, it helps. .-- --






photo Ian Ogden

Madaleine is pictured (centre) celebrating the crowning of three champions during 2005 - her own Now And Forever Deelayne (centre), sire of Vaderlands Fannin The Flame over Deelayne (right), now owned by the McCarthys, and Vaderlands Glory Alle-Luya (left) bred and owned by Gill Holland