Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Sometimes you win: The kindness of strangers edition

Here is Honey, primping before driving to the show:

Honey primping

She is sitting on the kitchen counter with a blow dryer pointed at her ears. As you can probably tell. Generally one bathes the dog the day before the show and tries to do the ears again the morning of the show. Honey doesn’t have a ton of coat, so she’s easy to keep in good condition, but on the other hand I want her ears as fluffy as possible when we walk into the show ring because she doesn’t have a ton of ear fringe compared to some.

Anyway, here is Honey back home after the show:

HoneyNewChampion

She doesn’t know she is a new champion, but she certainly has noticed that she’s getting double treats today!

She is now what is called a “well-balanced dog” — meaning a title at both ends. It’s a joke, especially appreciated by people who show in performance. But her full official name as soon as this one point goes through will be: AKC Champion Anara Honeysuckle Rose RN RA

So, Yay, Honey!

This was actually an interesting show. Generally I try not to say snide things about professional handlers and the way they win all the time, because of course often the professional handlers are showing very good dogs, and generally they know how to groom them just right, so naturally they do a good bit of winning. But it does get frustrating, because from time to time it sure looks like a particular judge is awarding the win to the handler without looking at the dog — I’ve seen the occasional not-very-nice dogs go up for major wins from time to time. Losing to a dog that is plainly excellent is not as bad as losing to one that is obviously not nearly as good as yours.

But today — well, the situation was this: the entry was bigger, but the animals that actually showed up were four boys and one girl (Honey). In Missouri at the moment that’s one point for the dogs and, of course, no points for the bitches. But even when there aren’t any other girls, it’s possible for a girl to get a point by winning the boy’s point. She does this by first automatically getting Winners Bitch (because she’s the only bitch there). Then she goes back in the ring to compete with the Winners Dog for Best of Winners. If she beats him, she gets as many points as he won.

Now, Honey is a pretty little thing, but she doesn’t have the glamour of a top winner, she has that kiss mark on her face, and she has a white sclera in one eye. So I didn’t think she had a chance of beating the Winner’s Dog, who was unquestionably a nice youngster. But the professional handler — with whom I’d been chatting — did SUCH a casual job of showing his boy! He let him sit, he let him amble around the ring, he didn’t encourage him to pose, he didn’t really move him out on the down-and-back — in other words, he was trying to give Best of Winners to Honey. Sometimes this kind of thing affects the outcome and sometimes it doesn’t, because the judge has already seen both animals showing properly and very likely she has already made up her mind. But in this case — whether because of Honey’s extremely good movement, which she showed off fairly well today, or because of the dog’s casual look in the Best of Winners competition — the judge gave the win to Honey. Poof! She’s a champion.

None of this did anything for or against the boy puppy, btw. He’d already won his point and the male special had already gotten Best of Breed over both of us.

If I were a judge, I would absolutely award the better dog no matter what. And maybe she’d have given it to Honey anyway. Quite a few judges have appreciated Honey, especially if they came out of Sporting Dogs and prioritize movement and even more so if they don’t approve of the modern shift toward more extreme heads in the breed. But I sure appreciated that handler, whose name I don’t even know, giving Honey a little boost. At the very least, it shows good will. So, whoever you were, bless you, friend.

I’m done showing for the year, now. Except I’ll put Ishmael in nearby shows to boost the numbers in dogs (and thus the points) when my friends need me to — Deb is trying to get majors for her boy. And I would like to put one or a couple Rally titles on Ish, of course. But that is much, much less stressful. I just do that because we all enjoy it, and although it’s nice to win first place, it doesn’t *matter* — all you need are qualifying scores, so you generally come home with a new title after every weekend.

Zero progress on the WIP today, but, yeah. Today was a good day.

Addendum: I looked up the judge in my show notes, and she is definitely a structure & movement judge. In 2011, she gave my young girl of mine, Eve, Best of Breed over a really nice male champion, and when I commented that she must not have minded the puppy’s freckles, she said, “Oh, I don’t mind freckles when she moves like that.” I made a specific note about that at the time. Eve was possibly my best-structured puppy ever, though rather too big and certainly not feminine and pretty. I do regret placing her as a pet now that I’m down to two intact girls, but at the time, placing her made sense.

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8 Comments Sometimes you win: The kindness of strangers edition

  1. pete mack

    Congratulations to Honey and to you. I am amazed that a dog will voluntarily sit for a blow drier. Most dogs I’ve known really hate loud noises–like the vacuum cleaner.

  2. Rachel

    Mine sometimes literally follow the vacuum cleaner around, watching with interest as it picks up leaf bits and stray hair. Or else they completely ignore it and I have to tap them and ask them to move out of the way.

    A show dog like Honey may have her ears blow dried four days in a row for a couple weekends in a row. That kind of thing produces a blasé attitude about blow drying!

  3. Kristina

    That makes it even more special! Did she win all of her points out of Bred-By? I covet one of those medallions from the AKC, but seeing as I no longer have a breeding program I doubt that’ll ever happen for me. Congrats, again!

  4. Rachel

    She won all her majors out of the puppy classes and all her single points out of Bred-By — and yes, I am extra pleased about that! But when showing both Honey and Kenya, I always put Kenya in Open and Honey in Bred-By — if they both went in for Winners, it put me in front with Kenya, Honey behind us with anyone helpful to show her. Kenya could never have shown with anyone but me, whereas Honey really showed better with someone else. She looks at me too much when gaiting, which was less of a problem if someone else took her in for me.

    Honestly, it was tough for Honey once she got out of the puppy classes, because she just does not look fully mature even now that’s she’s just turned two. She also has a more old-style head, which of course some AKC judges prefer, but there would be no point showing her in the CKCSC, where they are much more into the modern style of compact animals with short noses. Honey is really very different in style from her mother — Kenya is much more a CKCSC animal, whereas Honey most likely got all her points from AKC judges who came into Toys from Sporting Dogs. I don’t KNOW that, but I’d lay odds.

    Well, Kenya’s done now — she doesn’t like going to shows anyway — but Honey loves performance and could go as far as I have time to take her. Ish is going to be a dream for performance, too, even if his bite stays a little off — and it’s better than it was, maybe it will correct eventually.

  5. Craig

    Congratulations to Honey! And special thanks to that judge and handler for taking your Just One More Point issue into consideration. Have you run into a handler doing this kind of thing before (not necessarily for you)?

  6. Rachel

    Amateurs like me will do this kind of thing pretty routinely, especially if we know our competitors. I’m sure professional handlers will help each other out all the time if they’re acquaintances. But this is the first time I’ve seen a pro obviously trying to throw a point to an amateur owner.

    On the other hand, multiple times I’ve seen a pro handler grab a lead and take a dog in for an amateur in one of those *extremely common* minor crises when you suddenly need someone to bring one of your dogs in for reserve, when you’re already handling another dog in the ring. I always try to avoid asking pros for help in those circumstances — they get paid to do that, after all — but sometimes a pro at ringside will see there is a problem and volunteer. That would most often be someone handling a different breed, not someone competing with you, though I’ve seen even that.

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