Making Friends When Showing Dogs
Speak to any serious ‘dog person’ and they will tell you that when you join the world of dog showing it will take over your life. Your friends will fall into two camps; those that show and those that don’t! Of the friends who don’t exhibit their dogs you will find that some understand your passion as they own a dog and are generally interested – these may be potential puppy owners if one day you decide to start breeding from your bitches. Unfortunately the non-doggy friends will become a problem, however much you explain they will never understand why you travel the length and breadth of the country (and possibly abroad) in the quest to win a that elusive red card with ‘FIRST’ printed upon it. Relatives too will begin to wonder why you are never present for family celebrations, little realising that Sundays are normally spent in a muddy field somewhere trying to qualify for Crufts!
Starting OutWhen first dipping your toe into this strange new world you will feel quite alone, everyone seems to know each other, well everyone apart from you that is. But before too long you will be part of the crowd, even if you can’t remember their names. Treat this phase just as you would a new job, remember that feeling when you were the new girl? If you keep your head down and never make eye contact not only will no one speak to you but also you may give the false impression of being aloof. So keep a friendly smile on your face even if you are petrified!
BenchesWhen you attend a benched show you will have neighbours on the benches, you will see these people often as exhibitors are always benched in alphabetical order for each breed. You will soon be passing the time of day, discussing such important topics as the weather, the judge and where the rings are. Many exhibitors travel alone and if a friendly face offers to watch their dog while they pop to the loo the offer will soon be reciprocated – and who better to offer help than the person benched next to them.
BreederYou will of course know your breeder and no doubt they will be in attendance at many of the shows. You will be welcomed into their circle of friends and introduced to other exhibitors who own relatives of your own puppy. These exhibitors are always keen to know you, offer support and commiseration after a bad day.
Friend or FoeAlong the way you will make friends for life, but it’s true to say that the dog show world can also make you some bad enemies. Quite often you will be bemused and wonder why these people do not like you, it could be something as simple as your dog being placed over their dog in competition, even owning a dog from a breeder they do not like. Stories are epic in breeds about so-and-so never placing a certain breeder’s dogs because of an incident many years before. Your breeder will put you wise to these things and if this is happening try not to join into the debates around the ringside. If a judge is known to favour friends and dismiss others do not give him an entry – you should expect to be judged on the quality of your dog on the day and not because of a long-standing grudge. It happens; it’s all part of the colourful world of dog showing.
ClubsYou will have joined your local training classes and breed club. In time you will spot exhibitors from your neighbourhood at shows in other parts of the country. They may have another breed of dog to your own but you will stop and chat, and enquire as to how their dog has fared that day. You may even share the driving to some of the dog shows, it’s nice to have company when you’re setting out in the early hours of the morning and will save on petrol expenses as well.
In time, through a shared hobby you will find a wealth of new friends all having the same interest – the love of their dogs and an interest in the world of dog showing.