Looking at Dog Show Gear Through Fresh Eyes

AKC Gazette breed column—Like any hobby, showing dogs entails a volume of specialty items we convince ourselves we simply must have.

At the last Rose City Classic in Oregon, I was tour guide for a friend and client who had never been to a dog show. A dedicated fan of coonhounds, he wanted to watch as many hound rings as possible.

We sat at ringside, and I made a game for myself trying to guess who the judge would put up when I know exactly zero about any of the standards. Lesson learned: I should stick to sporting breeds, since I clearly know nothing about hounds.

While waiting for group judging, we walked through the vendor area. As a relative veteran of the dog show world, I am no longer surprised at the enormous variety of gear. The client, on the other hand, was gobsmacked. “What is this for?” became our next game, as he would hold up a grooming or training item with a perplexed look on his face.

Now this is a game I can win! “Stripper,” or “thinning shears,” or “stacking legs,” I would reply. Then I would explain the use of each item, sometimes needing the help of the vendor if it was an item not used with Welsh Springers.

“Do you own all this stuff?” he asked. For the most part I do own all that stuff—sometimes in multiples.

“Where do you keep it all?”

“In the garage.”

“Is there room for the car?”

“Well, no. My cars stay in the driveway.” 

 

A scenario familiar to show-goers: The author and her friend get ready to unload dogs and gear at the national-specialty host hotel.

A scenario familiar to show-goers: The author and her friend get ready to unload dogs and gear at the national-specialty host hotel.

The more questions he asked, the more incredulous he became at the volume of infrastructure I admitted to owning. When we visited a booth selling high-end aluminum crates, he was astonished.

“Who buys an $800 crate?” At least, in this case, I could assure him I don’t own anything that pricey—not that I wouldn’t love to.

We halted momentarily, allowing a lady of advanced years to cross in front of us. She was dragging a dolly loaded with a typical amount of gear for showing a couple of dogs—in other words, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, bound together with bungee cords.

Unfortunately, two other people cut her off, and she had to make an abrupt stop. The predictable happened: The dolly of gear kept rolling and sharply smacked into the backs of her legs.

Instinctively, I grabbed for the gear and kept it from crashing to the floor. The three of us righted the pile and set the bungee cords more strategically, and our new friend rolled on toward the crating area.

Like any hobby, showing dogs entails a volume of specialty items we convince ourselves we simply must have. Being with someone who is not part of the fancy is a way to open your eyes.

And as my mother’s best friend occasionally says to me, “You have all this stuff, but you can’t find a decent-looking pair of shoes?” That’s the topic for another column, however! —Wendy J. Jordan, Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America Read more AKC Gazette breed columns here, and follow us on Facebook.