Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best In Show

I’m proud and delighted to say that I was asked to present the Best In Show trophy last Sunday at the Ventura County Dog Fanciers Association show--thanks to my being a writer of pet-related mysteries!

One of the show’s organizers sent me an e-mail some time ago telling me that I hadn’t gotten something exactly right regarding shows in one of my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries. I thanked her, then asked her advice about a situation that I was pondering for an upcoming story, which she very graciously gave. When she asked me to be the presenter, I agreed.

My husband and I arrived at the show grounds in time to meet a really smart Border collie in the parking lot. His owner--servant?--put him through some of his paces, doing everything from turning in the direction indicated to waving. Of course he was there for Obedience trials.

We went to meet my contact in person, and she was delightful! She took us to lunch and introduced us to other show officials and judges. I was thrilled at how friendly everyone was. Some of them knew of my writing, and others didn’t. I enjoyed passing out bookmarks and talking about my writing as well as about the show and all the work involved with putting it together.

Then on to part of the reason I was there: watching the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels being shown! It was so much fun watching members of the breed I’ve owned for years strutting in the show ring. There were so many gorgeous pups that I was glad I wasn’t a judge.

I did ask a judge later, BTW, how she makes her decisions, especially when the winners of the breed shows compete in their group categories. Presumably, each of them is pretty close to their own breed standard. Which one is best? She told me that some of it is, again, looking for the breed standard, and some of it is personal preference. I couldn’t argue with that. How could it be otherwise?

I checked out some of the vendors’ booths, then went back inside to watch the group competitions. Once again, I’d have had a terrible time deciding.

I enjoyed checking out the dogs all over the show. It was fun to see, while the smallest Chihuahua was being shown, there was a huge Great Dane being walked nearby. It was also fun to check out the old, but true, cliché that people often choose dogs that look like them.

Near where I sat, the announcer had his own dog nearby, on a bed on a tall table: a sweet, calm Brussels Griffon, who only got excited when his master took a walk to the far side of the building.

Eventually, each group’s best had been chosen. The Cavalier, unfortunately, wasn’t among them, although she’d placed in the top four in Toys.

Then... the competition for Best In Show! The winner? The Herding Breed group winner--an absolutely adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgi!

And, yes, I was introduced by the show announcer, who gave a wonderful description of my background. Then I got to present the Best In Show trophy, a lovely bowl, and got my picture taken with the pup, the handler, the owners and the judge.

In all, it was a delightful day--especially because of all the really nice, friendly, helpful and instructive people who took part on the show. Thanks to all of you!

Have you ever attended dog shows or other similar kinds of events? Did you enjoy them?


Sheila Connolly said...

Years ago my mother use to raise and show Shih Tzus, which are very nice dogs. I went to a number of shows in various places (never the Westminster Show, alas), and she did have a couple of champions, that I watched perform.

It's interesting to observe a selection process like judging dogs. They're all auditioning for "best," which is a mixture of objective (official standards for the breed) and subjective (how the dog carries him- or herself, if they have that "spark" of a champion). Kind of like submitting your writing, no? You may have the technical details right, but does your work stand out?

Linda O. Johnston said...

Shih Tzus are adorable, Sheila! It must have been particularly fun to have champions performing. I watched the judges' faces as much as the dogs and also thought the selection process interesting. And, yes, judging of our creative work has some similarities...!

Mason Canyon said...

The only type of dog show I've ever attended was called Field Trials for Fox Hounds. When I was young my father use to raise Fox Hounds for running, but each year we'd go to the Field Trials to see all the show dogs. They were all beautiful. I had the opportunity to own a show Fox Hound many years ago. She was given to me by a friend of my father's. Both of her parents are champions, and she would have been perfect for it. But I never took the time to show her, wish I had now.

Enjoyed your post. Love to see a photo of you with the winner.

Betty Hechtman said...

I've never been to a real dog show, but when I was a kid, there was a fair in the neighborhood that had a dog show. I didn't have a dog, but borrowed the neighbors. It was a cool show because every dog got a ribbon. My borrowed dog, Sparky the cocker spaniel, got a ribbon for being the most strawberry blond dog.

Your day sounds really fun. How neat to be the presenter of the Best in Show.

Janie Emaus said...

I went to some kind of dog show at the college behind my house a few years back. And it was a lot of fun.
After reading about all your pet experiences, I may just have to get another puppy!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Fox Hounds seem like sweet, energetic dogs to me, Mason. Seeing them at a Field Trial must have been fun. I'm hoping that my photo presenting the trophy gets posted on a website somewhere. Otherwise, I'll have to figure out how to post my own!

Your kiddy dog show must have been fun for both Sparky and you, Betty. I wonder if I'd have given Sparky any competition in the strawberry blond category back then.

How often are dog shows held at the college near you, Janie? Was it an official AKC show, or for specific breeds?