This past weekend was the Canadian Shetland Sheepdog Association 2010 National Specialty in Saskatoon, SK. Of course, I just HAD to enter the boys!
With well over 300 Shelties entered, it was quite the sight! The Specialty offered conformation, obedience, Rally-O, and agility. I had both dogs entered in Brace Obedience and Rally-O, and Romeo entered in conformation.
Despite the really long days, we had an awesome time! It was so amazing to see all of the Shelties there doing what they do best ... looking cute and working hard!
Since the Specialty was offered in conjunction with the Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club show, I was also signed up for obedience and Rally-O stewarding the whole weekend. I think this played a significant part in the less than stellar performances that the boys showed on Friday, but even so, they did really well!
We were fortunate to have Michel Calhoun judge the obedience and Rally-O trials. He is an awesome judge and so much fun to show under! Definitely added to the experience, even if he did tease me mercilessly the entire weekend (good-naturedly, I hope!).
This was our first attempt at Brace Obedience, and while it wasn't perfect, it looks decent on the video and was enough to earn us a score of 190.5/200 and 3rd Place!
Rally-O went along the same vein, with both dogs entered in Advanced B and Excellent B. They finished off their CKC Rally Excellent titles last year and, since I wanted to enter in the Specialty, I decided to try for a leg of their RAE titles (even though I have no real intentions of pursuing it very far). Romeo had two scores of 99/100, one earning him a 3rd Place spot in Advanced B. Gio had scores of 95/100 and 97/100. To give an idea of what the competition was like, I will state that there were 11 Shelties entered in Advanced B and 15 Shelties entered in Excellent B. Of the bunch, I believe there was only 1 non-qualifying score, 2 scores below a 90/100, and the VAST majority of the scores above 95/100. In fact, in Excellent B there were 2 dogs tied for 1st place with perfect scores of 100/100 and a 6-way tie for 3rd place with 6 dogs earning 99/100! It all came down to who could make it through the course the fastest. That is the most intense Rally-O trial I have seen, with a lot of fabulous working Shelties from across Canada!
Rounding off the weekend was Romeo's first adventure in the conformation ring. He was neutered long ago, but probably could have finished his Championship had he been allowed to keep his boy bits. I entered him in the Altered Class and his breeder, Brenda Newlove of CanyonView Shelties trotted him around the ring for me, where he took Reserve Winners Dog! I always knew Romeo was a good looking dog, so I guess his success didn't come as too much of a surprise. But that doesn't dilute how proud I am of his accomplishments! Huge "Thanks" to Brenda for primping and preening my little man and putting in the leg work to show him off for me.
Now, on to the fun stuff!
Our obedience/Rally-O judge, Michel Calhoun, asked a favor of some of the Rally-O dogs after the trial on Friday night. I missed most of the story as I was running to my crating area to get my camera, but it is something along the lines of promising to do a favor for a class of children at a local school. He is carrying Flat Stanley (a colorful paper doll of sorts) around with him and documenting Flat Stanley's travels in photographs. So, to prove that he was at a dog show this weekend, he wanted a picture of Flat Stanley with a Shaggle of Shelties*. So here are just some of the dogs entered in the Sheltie-only Rally-O trial, with Flat Stanley front and center. (Sorry I couldn't get a better angle, but it was difficult to elbow my way through the throng of handlers urging their dogs to "stay" ... you try keeping that many Shelties sitting so close together without them spontaneously breaking out into zoomies and play bows!)
Just a moment of serious stuff, now. I have to share a pet peeve of mine with you all. Well, maybe this is a little more than a mere pet peeve. It is bordering on downright disgust! There were a lot of dogs in the trials this weekend, Sheltie-only as well as All Breed. And, with pressure running high and crazy competition, nerves flare up for both handlers and dogs. In cases like this ... shit happens. Literally. There were a fair number of dogs having accidents in or around the rings this weekend. Some newbies and some seasoned vets. And, while really stinky and not pleasant for your friendly neighborhood ring stewards to have to clean up, it happens. We all understand it. What I CANNOT stand is a handler chastising or blaming their dog for soiling the ring! It is NOT their fault! If you want to scold someone, smack yourself upside the head because it is your own darned fault! I do NOT want to see you leaving the ring yelling at your dog and yanking the hell out of their collar all because they had to do a number 2. It is YOUR job to make sure your dogs are pottied before they enter the ring. It is YOUR job to monitor their diet and their nerves before and during a trial weekend. And if, after all your efforts, they still end up soiling the ring, the proper procedure is to quickly apologize to the judge (and stewards for good measure, as it is them picking up your dog's droppings) and rush your dog outside to finish its business without causing a scene. Scolding your dog for doing what it has to do, especially when it is clearly attempting to PREVENT soiling in the ring as you dawdle around trying to finish your performance while blatantly ignoring the dog's distress, is the very LAST thing you want to do. Both for your dog's sake and the sake of your own reputation. I know I'm not the only person tasting bile after witnessing you jerking your dog around after their accident. Smarten up people!
There. That feels better.
Following the "Sandwich Protocol", begin and end with something positive while sticking the nasty bit in the middle, this weekend was absolutely awesome! Lots of great successes from the Sheltie side of things as well as the All Breed side. HUGE congratulations to everyone on their accomplishments! When my feet stop throbbing and I catch up on some sleep, I will post more pictures of the boys with their prize haul. And I have heard rumor that there are some ring-side pictures of Romeo's conformation debut floating around. When I get my hands on those, I will certainly be sharing them here!
* For the definition of a Shaggle of Shelties, check out this previous blog post.