Conformation Shows - A Family Affair

By Penny Wetmore (October 2012)

I've always been interested in showing dogs but never had the opportunity. I remember going to a show when I was a young teen. It was located in Minneapolis at the Armory. It was so much fun seeing all the gorgeous dogs in real life not just a picture in a book! It was an incredible day, one that I'll never forget. But as usual, I ended up leaving the place sneezing and wheezing! I really wanted to have a career doing something with animals but the sneezing/wheezing kept me from pursuing any vocation with animal dander. At the time, I believed my only choice of dog breeds were poodles or poodle crosses, so it's not surprising that we purchased Piper (our little mixed terrier) as a Cock-A-Poo! There is neither a Cocker nor a Poodle in that dog but thank goodness she doesn't have dog dander! She is a great little dog bursting with personality!

I remember reading about the AKC recognizing the Portuguese Water Dog. I was really intrigued by the breed for many reasons. I really adored their features, they had a nice size and I was always interested in breeds with hypo-allergy claims! Since the breed was so new, I had years to read about them and see them in various dog shows. Finally, when my daughter, Bailey, was 8, we decided to get another dog, I thought why not a PWD?!?

Enter Lucy. Realizing that I had never been involved with dog shows, I bought a companion dog but according to her 8-week-old Puppy Aptitude Test, she also had show potential. I started reaching out to folks on showing dogs and I got a ton of great information! My breeder encouraged me to join our local club, and there I found a wealth of fantastic friends and more great information. Our very first show was in St Peter in 2009 and my first groomer, Jen, was a Standard Poodle breeder. She had lots of show experience and helped us learn a lot about AKC and UKC shows. She did such a nice job on Lucy and offered to take her in the ring for me at Hutchinson that same year. What a doll! Since Jen had never groomed a PWD before, Lucy had a bit of a Poodle look to her. Regardless, PWDCTC members were so encouraging and said that Lucy would finish keep trying. So we did. We tried a new handler, Alyssa another very supportive friend in the show scene; new haircuts Lori the amazing sculptor of PWD hair; new treats; and a puppy pal, Piper. Anything to keep Lucy happy. We were doing pretty well, holding our own, and actually brought home a point or two. We made mistakes but didn't give up. We simply adjusted, took another handling class, and moved on to the next show. I believe it was year two (2010) when Bailey started showing in juniors. Poor Lucy, she never really cared for dog shows and now we put her in the ring twice! What a good girl Lucy! She consistently did EXACTLY what we wanted and consistently told us she didn't have to like it by wilting in the ring!

My husband, Wayne, works EVERY weekend. For as long as we've been married, he's worked every Saturday and every Sunday. But being a dog lover himself, he started taking the weekends off when we had a show. What a great family event something we ALL LOVE to do! I used to fluff Lucy out of the back of my car, but now we started setting up in the grooming areas. I now own a grooming table, blow dryer, and a few other essentials for the perfect PWD. Lori showed me some of her PWD hair sculpting skills, and that has proven to be a huge money saver.

Through trial and error, we learned what worked well for Lucy in the ring and we began winning a few more shows but had yet to attain the elusive major.

Enter Bingo. By now, we all had the dog show bug and we wanted a new pup with personality plus for the ring. It's really difficult to get a wilted dog to shine in the ring. We wanted one that wasn't quite so much work. Bingo has it! Personality and looks with a fun-loving, "look at me" disposition. In Bingo's world, life is ALL ABOUT BINGO as it should be for a show dog. The new Bailey/Bingo team made their first appearance in Shakopee last year and pulled in the blue ribbon! Not long afterwards, the team came home with Best of Winners from both days in St Cloud. An awesome team was formed.

Bailey has discovered how to present a dog in the ring and now shows both Bingo and Lucy. She has brought home many points for both pups. In fact, just this past weekend, Bailey brought home the blue ribbon for both dogs as well as a RESERVE for both dogs! We are SO VERY close to attaining that elusive major but it has yet to reach our team. Perhaps the next show, it will. You'll hear me in the next county when it does!

I have redefined the word RESERVE. It means your dogs are good enough to spend more money at the next show in hopes to bring home the elusive major!