So, with nothing exciting going on today I will share with you the story of Mikey's first show, and Mikey's first big win! If you live in the Houston area, the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows is the one to put on your calender! The show is in late July and shows in conformation, obedience, rally, agility, and flyball are ongoing Thursday through Sunday, as well as 'Meet the Breed', training and health seminars, dog frisbee demos, and of course vendor booths with everything dog or dog related! The Reliant series is one of the largest dog shows in the country and Animal Planet comes to film the conformation groups and best in show on Friday or Saturday. The web site is http://www.reliantdogshows.com/.
Back to Mikey's story. I was afraid the Reliant series was way too big (and intimidating) for my first time ever walking into the conformation ring (and Mikey's first time too!). I took Mikey over to Paul and Doris a few weeks before the show and I have to thank Paul for encouraging me to jump in with both feet! So I entered Thursday and Friday, since showing all four days sounded too exhausting for both Mikey and me.
Now, conformation shows are a little complicated. In the breed ring, the males and females (bitches) start out separated. Each sex has several different classes based on age. The winners of each class then go on to compete for Winners Dog (or Winners Bitch). Only the Winners Dog (or Bitch) earn points toward their Champion title. So only one male and one female of all the 'class dogs' earn points. The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch then go back into the ring to compete in the Best of Breed class. This is the class for dogs that are already Champions to compete for Best of Breed (sometimes the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch win Best of Breed). The BoB will go on to compete in the Group competition (for example, the Herding group that Cardigans belong to). The first place winner of each of the seven Groups go on to compete for the honor of Best in Show.
Sounds complicated doesn't it? And the process of earning the title of Champion is complicated too. AKC requires a total of 15 points to earn a Champion title. Plus you must win at least two 'majors' as part of those 15 points. A major is a win of 3-5 points. This may all sound easy, but remember that only one male dog and only one female dog earn points at any show, and the number of points available at any given show is based on the number of dogs entered, so to win a major, your dog has to beat a lot of dogs. Needing to win those two majors can keep a dog trying for their Champion title for years!
The Reliant series is a huge show, and usually all four days are 'majors'. So Mikey was entered Thursday (the Bluebonnet Cardigan Club specialty) and Friday (a supported entry). (See 'Cast of Characters' post for definitions of specialty and supported entries). We really entered these shows just for fun and practice in the ring. Mikey and I had taken some handling classes, but we where both sooo inexperienced. I thought it would be nice if Mikey could place in his class, but that was about the height of my expectations.
Thursday went smoothly. I had bought a pink outfit for the show (I don't really like pink, but Mikey looks good standing in front of pink, and it stands out well in the show ring). My dad went with me and we showed up early to put Mikey's crate in the grooming space we had rented with the Bluebonnet Cardigan Club. It was really funny because everyone else was grooming away at their dogs, with blow dryers and whitening chalk flying, but all I had was one brush and a small towel; no grooming table, I just brushed him standing on top of his crate. The first class of the day was Sweepstakes, an entry for dogs under a year old and seniors only. No points can be earned in Sweepstakes, but it is one of the rare times you can actually earn money in showing, since the entry fees are split between all the placing dogs. I was so nervous I was shaking, and almost knocked Mikey off the table when I set him up there for the judge's examination. Mikey wasn't nervous at all, and acted like the entire thing was just the most fun adventure ever! Mikey won 3rd place in his class, a toy, and about $20. I was thrilled. The next class was the regular show class, and the judge was the well known Cardigan breeder, the Reverend Dr. Patrick Ormos. Oh terror! One of my idols in the breed, and my first day ever showing! Arg! But Mikey trotted around as confident as could be, and holy cow, we got second place in our class! I was on cloud nine!
Friday started out a little rocky, since my mother was having a hard time getting time off work to come watch. She had to miss Thursday, and I was afraid that now she would miss the whole thing. Thank goodness she was able to get away for a long lunch, and she and my dad showed up just a few minutes before we went in the ring. Mikey didn't show in Sweepstakes that day, because his breeder was judging Sweepstakes, and showing under her is verboten in AKC. That made me a little nervous, since I had felt that Sweepstakes had been a good warm-up for the show class the day before. The judge on Friday was Judith Goodin. And Mikey won his class! Yippee! Oh, no! That meant we had to go back in the ring to compete with all the other class dog winners for Winners Dog. So we filed back in for the Winners Dog competition, with Mikey and I at the end of the line because he was the youngest. We trotted around in front of the judge, and then lined back up. I was concentrating on Mikey, thinking I would be done in a few minutes and could relax. Then I hear 'Mam, mam' and I look up and the judge is pointing at me! Mikey was being awarded Winners Dog! I was thrilled! and terrified! because we had to go back in the ring again for the Best of Breed competition! Which went just fine, because Mikey and I were too tired by then to worry about much. We trotted around the ring, and watched the judge award Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex and Best of Winners and then we were finally done! And Mikey had earned a 'major' of 5 points, beating 16 other class dogs!