Dog shows – more than a beauty contest.

FlareAlthough I will be the first to confess dog shows have hurt a lot of breeds, there are some good things about them as well. Many people who are breeder/ handlers (meaning they show their own dogs) are willing to talk to the public to educate people about their dogs. Dog shows give people a chance to see beautifully groomed purebred dogs. And, for many of us and our dogs, it gives us a chance to socialize with each other.

I look at dog shows as a beauty pageant. There are other venues where I place more value on a dog’s performance. Can retriever types actual retrieve? Can hunting dogs hunt? I love to watch running dogs run. The girl I currently am trying to work with in obedience has previously proven herself worthy on the coursing field. A dear friend has a great slogan: “A well balanced dog has titles at both ends.” Not only are they pretty in the show ring, but they can do what they were originally bred to do.

This is where I think AKC dog shows have done great disservice to some breeds. I’ve seen field champion dogs that would be laughed straight out of the show ring, because they aren’t “pretty,” while the show ring dog couldn’t get out of its own way in the field.

There are few dog fights at shows because it’s nobody’s turf to protect. These dogs are either very well socialized or on their way to being so. The dogs are well watched, too. I’d like to say most handlers are aware of what the dog is doing; however, having a breed that can do a lot of damage in a blink of an eye, I tend to be hyper-vigilant. I’ve been sadly disappointed with other breed handlers and their obliviousness to their dogs.

My Flare is a prime example of the good a dog show do for a dog. Flare’s puppyhood socialization was not as complete as I would have hoped. I’ve taken him to several shows, but he didn’t really care so much. These past few shows he has really come to enjoy himself, begging at the door to go again. He is happy to be there, smiling at the judge and totally non-reactive to other dogs being only inches away.

Dog shows can be a lot of fun.


Marie Agun

I grew up in Washougal. Our family used to have cows, and so we always had the usual farm animals; cows, chickens, cats, dogs. When I was 11, some one dumped a young, silver point German shepherd near our farm. Unlike almost all dumped dogs, this one was lucky and we took him in. He turned out to be a pretty good farm dog. We called him Charley. My sister decided to enter Charley in 4-H obedience classes, and her little sister (me) always tagged along. One day, while my sister was working with Charley, I went back to the car. Someone had come to visit the obedience instructor, and in the back of the visitors’ car were two amazing, tall, thin, long haired elegant, majestic looking dogs. I was instantly smitten. I did see the person who owned the dogs, and I never learned who it was; but, I promised myself that some day I would have a dog like that. It took me 10 years to learn I’d fallen in love with a Borzoi aka Russian wolfhound. It was another 10 years for my first Borzoi to enter my life. Just how he came to live with me is another wonderful story. He was my love, he was an amazing teacher. He taught me a lot about dogs and life. I’m so glad he was part of my life. Since a lot of people don’t know much about Borzoi, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the breed as I could. It’s only been 15 years now, so I’m still learning, and love to talk dog with anyone willing to listen.

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