Yes, I’m a Diehard Dog Show Exhibitor

AKC Gazette breed column, Border Terriers—Long drives, flat tires, and even the occasional (rescinded) threat of divorce can’t dampen an exhibitor’s love of dogs and the sport …

Maybe it’s a terrier thing, or maybe it’s the competitive nature in all of us who show any breed in the AKC ring, but I’ve come to learn there is very little that can interrupt plans to make it to the dog shows. No rain storm, blizzard, family reunion, birthday, or simple ailment will stop a diehard exhibitor from hopping in her van and accelerating down the road toward the next dog-show destination. Wedding anniversary? It will have to wait, for nothing is more important than chasing that valued next point toward the championship title.

Most of us over the years have developed close friendships from our dog-show travels. This adds to the drive and devotion we have in making our show entries, hotel reservations, packing plans, and grooming-scheduling before setting our GPS devices to the next exciting event.

Flat tires, fender-benders, traffic jams, late-night hours—nothing causes us to wonder, “Should we turn around and go home?”

I recall a time when I was traveling with two friends to the national specialty. All of us diehards know that a specialty is “special,” and there is nothing that will keep us from this awesome annual experience.

The three of us had stuffed nine Border Terriers into my tiny Toyota RV and excitedly headed out for the 14-hour drive to Massachusetts. Awaiting us there was a much larger rental RV to share while we stayed for the week.

Halfway out on our trip, the front right tire exploded and caught on fire. We were towed to a hotel, and the next morning, we rented a cargo van to stuff and squeeze everything inside, very determined to keep going.

Did we ever consider turning around? Not on your life! Not even after finding out I had hung up on my husband after screaming in the cell, “We’re on fire!” While dialing for help, I had no idea that the beeps that kept interrupting my attempts were calls from my husband, who envisioned us blown up by the propane tank. This was only the beginning of why he asked me for a divorce one week later. (Luckily for me, he recanted the morning after my friends and I had finally made it back home!)

That particular specialty trip was filled with many mishaps: a pair of lost eyeglasses (making my friend totally blind for many hours), the rental RV’s complete loss of power when we arrived, a horrible storm, and the fact that I could not figure out how to work the RV shower.

I am willing to admit I considered running naked outside and diving into the pond to rinse off my lather but chose instead to douse myself with the bottled water—so cold!—for my final rinse. This was very late at night, while my friends were snoring in unison.

I am sure all of us diehards can share many more stories of adventures traveling to dog show after dog show. I want to thank the AKC for providing us the opportunity to make showing dogs such a huge part of our lives.

I am sure my farming husband would rather I stay home, knit, can beans, and match his socks, but I have to admit: I am a diehard dog-show breeder-owner-handler—and I love it!

Lynn Looper,

Further information about Border Terriers can be found here and here

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