As most of you know responsible breeding often involves taking part in showing your dogs in conformation events or other realms of competition. Not all responsible breeders show their dogs, however most consider it worthwhile to prove their dogs against their own breed and want most of their breeding stock to hold recognized championship’s from their governing registration body. Here in Canada a Canadian Championship is awarded to any dog who accumulates 10 points in conformation competition against their own. Information regarding the Canadian Kennel Club can be found on their link.
There is a ton of work that goes into getting a dog ready for show. First you have to have a cavalier that is structurally sound in both movement and temperament. They must be well marked and show beautiful breed type. Something that differs a lot by opinion! What looks beautiful to some may not be appealing to others. Cavaliers seem to have a wide variety of different types.
Both of my girls are not wonderful show dogs for Cavaliers due to their markings. Tri’s are supposed to have clearly defined white blazes. Rubies should be all ruby.. not little red dogs with patches of white on their chest and chin! However due to my belief that breeding dogs should be active in various realms of competition I have spent the last 3 years learning how to “handle” my cavaliers so that when the time comes and I *do* own something that I consider worthwhile to show, it will be a matter of training the dog.. not me! I still have a lot to learn, however I have definitely learned a lot!
One of the ways in which I have learned so much about cavalier structure, movement, and type has been attending conformation handling classes every Monday night. Every Monday from the end of September till the end of June CFSO members meet and hold their own classes. Everyone is welcome and it is a great opportunity to learn from others who have been involved with breeding cavaliers for many years. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise is so valuable to those of us who are just starting out. Without their help and guidance learning about the cavalier world and conformation showing would be next to impossible.
I typically take one of my girls just to practice for fun. They love going to handling and consider it one of their favourite social events. Aside from having a great time with their cavalier friends, both of my girls now for the most part know how to behave on a show lead, stand sill and square, and be examined while standing quietly on the table. I have learned most of the patterns a judge will ask for you to perform in the ring while the dog is being judged. It is up to the person on the end of the lead to have their dog looking and behaving the best they can.
For the last few months my girls have mostly been left at home while I venture out to handling on Monday nights without them. This is a crisis situation in my house as I’m sure they know what night is Monday and exactly *where* I am going without them! Before I sound like the worst cavalier mommy ever I will tell you why this torture has been happening at my house. It all started with my good friend Debbie from Bark’n About got her black and tan girl “Mysticmoon’s Dancing Queen” from my very good friend Karen Murray at Mysticmoon Cavaliers
As I see Debbie and her girls very regularly I got to have the chance to see “Becky” grow up. Every time I saw her I thought *wow* this girl has beautiful structure and movement. Then Debbie was having trouble finding a class to take Becky to train her and socialize her. Next thing we know Monday night handling seemed like the perfect fit for Becky, and I have a dog to work with and show a little! 🙂 From handling Becky has learned how to behave like a little lady on a lead, stand and wait quietly, and be examined on the table (sometimes more quietly than others.) She has met a ton of cavalier friends, and I think her personality has blossomed by coming out to class.. her sisters too!
All of these weeks of practice are coming down to the main event. Becky and I make our first show debut in the 20th annual CFSO Specialty in Campbellville on the weekend. I hope all of our hard work has paid off and Becky behaves herself in the ring. We will see! It will be hard for us to place or win because this is a specialty show and she will be competing against so many cavaliers. I will be thrilled though if she behaves herself and does her best! I hope we do her breeder Karen proud too.
Some pictures from Handling on Monday night!
We Line Up and Stand Quietly while the “Judge” makes her rounds.
Learning to stand quietly on the examination table is important!
The “Judge” examines my teeth and makes sure I have a good “bite” meaning my teeth are properly aligned and not severely undershot or overshot.
It is hard for a cavalier to stand quietly while someone is coming to say hi to me!
We practice strutting our *stuff*
Standing and waiting quietly. You have my full attention!
We show off our wagging Cavalier tails as the *Judge* examines how our rear is put together
And finally after all that hard work what we came here for in the first place PLAYTIME!
Our owners socialize, have a drink, and eat a snack. Sometimes we join in. 🙂 Yes that *is* cake on our noses.
And after we have worked, played, snuck a snack or two we pass out exhausted and our owners take us home where on Monday night we are hyped up and excited to do it all again! 🙂