Prior to getting my first CSV I had never been to a conformation show or sporting event nor had I ever trained a dog to compete. The only knowledge I had of conformation came from watching it on tv. I got Kaida with the hopes of getting into the show and sporting world but when she came, I felt quite overwhelmed. What if I messed up, what if I did everything wrong, what if I made a fool of myself, what if Kaida refused to cooperate…on and on the doubts in myself and Kaida went.
Finally, a friend convinced me to just go to a show. It took a while, but I finally found a small conformation show and signed up. When I got there, I was a bundle of nerves and still had no clue what I was doing. Thankfully an experienced handler reached out to me. She told me to set my crate up next to hers and she introduced me to several other handlers. She taught me how to stack my dog and we watched the groups go before ours and she explained what they were doing and why.
Then it was my turn. The whole time I was in the ring I just kept thinking, “don’t trip, don’t trip.” Before I knew it, I was done…and I hadn’t tripped. We survived the weekend and ended up having a lot of fun. The best advice I got that weekend was to accept that I was going to make mistakes, that some shows your dog was just not going to cooperate, that there were going to be embarrassing moments, and that it happened to everyone.
Since that weekend I have had some of those embarrassing moments and guess what…we survived. When I talk to others about getting into showing I often hear the same fears and doubts that I had. So Kaida and I are here to say, “Forget them!” Just get out there and have fun. It doesn’t matter if you blunder. Everyone has those stories and one day you’ll be the experienced handler telling your embarrassing stories to get the first timer over their jitters.
After getting into conformation I quickly found myself addicted. Now we attend as many performance events as we can. We’ve signed up to try sports we’ve never even heard of before, let alone trained in…but why not! Titles held by my first show/competition dog to date: UKC CH, UWP, UWPCH, URO1, CGC, CGCA, TKN, TKI, TKA, TKP, TKE, ICN, ICN2, ICN3, IMN, IUN, IGT, IGT 2, ICF, ICF 2, ICF3, RN, VIP, 4 Total Dogs…and this list will continue to grow because someone convinced me to get out of my own way.
So, take a chance and get out there. Have fun, meet new people, and learn a new sport. Showing is a great way to build your relationship with your dog and for your dog to be an ambassador for the breed.