Monday, April 8, 2013

Our First Official Time in the Ring, Part 1

Three days of showing on one week? I was on cloud nine! I've been looking forward to getting Bricklin in the ring since before she was born. I LOVE showing, even though I'm still learning.

The first day of showing in particular was all I could have dreamed of in the ring and more. Seriously!

I had a rough night before the first day. I thought maybe I was getting the stomach bug my sister and her family had. As any of you that show may know, I was very certain I would do anything not to lose my $30 of entries. Hell would freeze over before I would eat an entry without even earning a single point! I'm sure I'll have to at some point, but that was not the day. I didn't eat or drink that morning. Go, show, come home and nap. That was the plan.

We (me, my mom, and Bricklin) arrived early, and I felt out of it, though well enough that I didn't think I was actually sick. A friend, Sherry, arrived with her son Ethan. Her son just turned three and loves dogs. She had the day off work, so she decided to come. She gave me a big hug and was asking different questions about things at the show.

When things got started, I moved closer to the ring opening so I could hear when they called us in. The judge looked very, very experienced, but he seemed really nice. He patted the bulldog boys that were showing before they hopped down from the ramp and was just generally laid back. Good. I wasn't up for a tough judge today. I'm new and I don't feel great.

When it was our turn, I went into the ring. Bricklin was the only one in her age group, not surprised since she's a 6-9 month-er. The judge came up and said hello, then shook my hand. What?! They don't do this! I thought it was quite odd, but he was very friendly with the male bulldogs earlier, so I figured he was just a nice guy.

Bricklin showed well. We got our first (out of one) place ribbon and stood by for best of females.

While I was waiting, one of the show workers came up to me. "Did you mean to put your collar on backwards?"

Immediately I felt offended and embarrassed, yet I knew I couldn't. I told her no and asked for her help. I figured I'd better be as green as possible and take any advice I could. She also told me I should wear different shoes and gave me some tips for stacking.

Bricklin and I went back in the ring. There were three of us. I figured it would go as expected - the obviously pretty female would win, the 22 month old would get 2nd, and I would come in last. However, the judge awarded us with reserve. Of course, we wouldn't be needed, but the ribbon was still nice to have. She also got a ribbon for best puppy. (One out of one...not complaining!)

As I exited the ring, the steward instructed me to "stay right here, please" and the judge told all bullie owners to stay nearby, he had an announcement. Great. Now what did I do?

I hung around, tucking my ribbons in my shirt (I don't have pockets) and hoped I wasn't in big trouble. I got more advice from others while I waited. Best of breed was chosen, and bulldogs exited the ring.

The judge looked out. "You're Jacki, right?" he said, pointing at me.



"Come in here."

I walked into the ring with Bricklin wondering if we were going to be made an example. I'm sorry! I'll wear better shoes next time!

As we walked in, the judge announced it was my birthday. Really? Who told him? Oh geez, word gets around. He said we were all going to sing happy birthday to me, so they did. I smiled like an idiot and couldn't wait for it to be over. I curtseyed and tried to have fun. The judge was all smiles.

"You're from here in York, right?" he asked.


"And where is your boyfriend?"


The judge just stared at me, and I turned around, knowing that, OMG, this is happening. Andrew, my boyfriend, was, of course, right behind me. He got down on one knee, ring box open and diamonds catching all the light.

"Will you marry me?"

I was smiling like an idiot and could hear all the murmurs of the crowd. "You know I will," I said, as though it were a silly question.

He put the ring on my finger and hugged me. We kissed, much to the judge's happiness (he had just started to ask for it). Everyone was clapping and congratulating us as we exited the ring.

Poor chow owners. We totally held them up.

We were SWARMED outside the ring - people I didn't know were congratulating us, I still hadn't really looked too much at the gorgeous ring, Bricklin was being so good, I felt like I was going to pass out, cry, and laugh for eternity all at the same time.

THAT'S about when a gentleman introduced himself from our local newspaper and started to ask us questions. The photographer shot pictures while we were talking. Everyone was still congratulating us, and it was just a wild moment.

I had a little bit of time between that crazy, insane moment and best of puppy that afternoon, so I used that time to EAT and celebrate and get new soft soled shoes for the evening. Bricklin behaved pretty well in the ring, but didn't really catch the judge's eye. I was still so proud of her, and I know she'll continue to do better each time.

Thursday was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday, minus the engagement.

Stay tuned for part 2 with more show oriented pictures and our humbling experience Saturday (aka how not to prepare for a dog show).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Almost Show Time

Last night I went to bed with Balmex and cornstarch on my pajamas and nail polish ground off from the dremmel, which can mean only one thing...

Bricklin celebrated six months old, so it is officially time to hit the show ring! We're also celebrating less accidents inside and a little bit calmer demeanor. She still likes to take down her brother, though. That shouldn't ever change. He loves it.

I'm very excited to spend tomorrow, my birthday, getting Bricklin back in the ring. I'm excited to see if she remembers what it's for, what she gets to do. Practice makes perfect, and I'm sure soon enough, she'll understand when she sees rings and smells tons of other dogs that it's show off time.

I think there's something special about showing puppies. The judges always have a little more grace. I think it's just as fun for them to see a little one in the ring as it is to bring a little one in. They expect squirming. They expect imperfections. Remembering that eases my mind.

Last night I watched a video on YouTube of clips from a handling seminar at BCA nations in 2009. I picked up a few more tips and was reminded that you can only show your dog as what he/she is. Don't expect something that he or she is not.

That's a good reminder.

Bricklin is not an adult. She's a puppy. She's learning, and she will still make mistakes. All of that is okay.

Bricklin is flashy, a word that our "bulldog mentor" used the first time he saw her. She's pretty and she knows it, and she carries that with her everywhere she goes. Bricklin is intense. When she wants something, those little eyes are hard and fast focused on what she is going to have. Bricklin is charismatic. She wins hearts. The end.

Hopefully she remembers everything we've worked on at home and brings it into the ring with her. We'll see where we stand and then make new goals to move forward.

For now, it's fun and games for us. We might get a ribbon for being the only one in our class, so that's fun. We're practicing for the big leagues, the days when points are at stake. I'm not too worried. By then, Bricklin will know EXACTLY what she wants, and she will get those points.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bricklin's First Time in the Ring!

I've been looking forward to this day for a long time. I think with any endeavor you take on, you hope to do better next time. By the time I realized I wanted to show bulldogs, Hudson was already several months old with his own habits I'd taught him. Bricklin was my fresh slate.

Bricklin was my fresh slate, alright. My fresh slate that wiggled on the table, was suddenly and inexplicably afraid of heights, sat down when she decided she didn't like her leash, and barked at everything.

I was thankful our first time in the ring was a match. Matches are very laid back events to practice. There's just something about coming into a show, even with a puppy, that intimidates me. All those people have more experience than me!

We arrived around 2:15, and the match wasn't slated to start until 4. The regular show was already over, so it was like a ghost town in the ring. I signed Bricklin up and took her over to the crate room to put a little cornstarch in her wrinkles. I kept giving her ice cubes to keep her cool. I'm so thankful I picked up on that at Nationals in 2011. Sadly, I forgot about the spray bottle until I got there. Next time!

People started to come in and Bricklin was excited to meet anyone that would approach her. She loves attention, which is why I was hoping she'd love to strut her stuff in the ring.

We took a little lap in the ring quickly before more people showed up. She walked really well on her lead. I was shocked, but thankful. I was just hoping it would last.

When the match started, the boys went first. I had fun watching and started to feel a lot better when I saw that all the other pups were also wiggling around the table, refusing to stand still, and putting the brakes on when it was time to walk. There were some good looking dogs, too. It is hard to see the potential in puppies because anything is possible, but it's fun to see round heads, big paws, and stocky chests.

As it turned out, there were 5 puppies in the 3-4 month category, but since Bricklin had already passed 4 months, she was in 4-6. She was the only one, so the judge just took us through the routine - around the ring, up on the ramp for exam, down and back. Bricklin stood for exam. She gave just one little wiggle as the judge ran her hands down her body. I think she may have been making sure she wasn't getting a shot. Her first vaccination with me was received with a big stink eye to the vet. The judge was super sweet and told her, "I'm just going to tickle you a little bit." As though she understood perfectly, Bricklin faced forward and stood still for the rest of exam.

We got a pretty pink ribbon for our "first place." Hudson has a few of these. I was a little disappointed not to have the chance to "beat" someone else for that spot, but it did guarantee that we would get another chance to get in the ring for best of puppy.

Right before best of puppy, Bricklin decided the she finally realized she was tired. Great. She'd been up and running since 9:30 that morning and it was quarter to five. I wasn't surprised; I knew she was exhausted. But I needed her to be awake a little longer. She was a trooper, but she wasn't feeling the standing still for so long while the judge surveyed everyone. But overall she did really well. I was so proud of her.

Probably the best part for me was the end of the puppy match. We were circling off to leave the ring, and Bricklin saw the edge of the ramp. She started to walk up it. She wanted to stand for exam again! I was so happy that she enjoyed it and wanted to go again. I promised her we'd do that again soon. I think she really liked the attention. That's my girl! THAT'S what I wanted to see!

Thankfully, we were able to go, and it wasn't long before she was OUT sleeping on the floor of the car.

Now I know what I want to work on a little more clearly. Our first hurdle is definitely her back feet. She has great rear angles, but she likes to put her rear feet back behind her. I keep trying to tell her she's not a German Shepherd, and I even said that to the judge. Sure enough, she put one foot back during exam, so the judge replaced it and said, "You're a bulldog."

The second thing that needs work is the length of time I require her to stand. I have been slacking on it. There was a three month old bitch that couldn't walk on a lead, but she would stand still for hours if her owner asked. I'd like to see Bricklin have that resolve, and I hope she remembers why, my little show off!

Third, we're gonna work on walking on the lead. She did well as far as not stopping while she was walking, but she moved very quickly. That was more than likely my nervousness about how she would walk traveling down the lead to her. But if she can slow down her movement, I think the judges will be able to better see her gait, which I think is fabulous.

We get a little bit of a break from the ring, which is good. It'll give her time to grow and learn and more time for us to work on these things that need tweaking. We'll re-enter the ring on my birthday, March 13th for two days of shows near my house. If money is available, we'll head down to at least one Bel Alton show, but I'm not certain yet.

I'm definitely planning to get some more pictures up here of my little cutie! She's grown so much! I'm so proud!!