Last weekend, I did something I never in a million years thought I’d try: conformation. And you know what? I had a great time!
A few weeks ago, I asked my friend Dawn to let me know the next time she had a conformation event coming up so I could go watch. Not only did Dawn have one planned, but she was also looking for a handler, and would I come and handle her bitch Grace?
I refused. I told her that I didn’t know anything about conformation, and there’s no way I could do it. But Dawn assured me that it was okay, especially since she wanted Grace to lose. See, Dawn wanted to get a few more points on her bitch Peace before the end of the year, but to do that, Peace had to defeat another dog. Unfortunately, Dawn’s breed, Cardigans, aren’t very common in our area, so Dawn had to enter them both so that Peace would have someone to beat.
So I went. I figured that since my job was to lose, there was absolutely no pressure. I could pick Dawn’s brain about cardigan structure (and I did learn some interesting things), learn how conformation shows work (I understand them now, even if the judging still mystifies me), and generally just have fun.
And I did. I loved that there was no pressure. All I had to do was trot Grace around the ring a few times, lift her on a table, pretend to stack her, and smile. Oh, and did I mention that I won? I guess I’m not very good at losing, but Dawn didn’t mind- after all, it was her dog that won either way!
In fact, I’m so bad at losing that not only did Grace win her class, but she was also the de facto best in breed. That meant that we got to compete with all of the other dogs in the herding group who won. I didn’t expect to win in group- and we didn’t- but Grace did get Group 3, which is the conformation way of saying third place. We beat another dog! (Okay, so I really had nothing to do with Grace’s win- all I did was hold on to her leash and lift her on the table. In fact, I didn’t even do that right, because the judge manually restacked Grace.)
I had a lot of fun though, and if I get a purebred dog, especially a puppy, I will definitely show in conformation. Since I don’t plan to breed, I’m not particularly worried about winning or putting a championship on my hypothetical dog, but participating seems like a great way to introduce a dog to the trial environment. I got to take treats in the ring, and I was allowed to use them any time I wanted!
Plus, it was really fun to go in the ring, to play with dogs, and to hang out with friends. Just so you know, Dawn, I expect that the next time you need a handler, you’ll call me first!