Saturday, February 17, 2018

Kelley Conquers Westminster

Rumor, last year's winner, was this
year's poste child
The 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was earlier this week -- and I was there. Yep, I can cross that one off the bucket list! I was in New York City Saturday through Wednesday and I don't think I got more than twelve hours sleep total. I'm still groggy, but I wanted to share with you all while it was still fresh in my mind.

New York was overwhelming. We were there 5 days/4 nights and barely scratched the surface. We saw Wicked on Broadway, caught a comedy show in a dive club, ate dim sum in Chinatown, rode the subway, had a rude cab driver (and several really nice ones), visited the 9/11 Memorial, got a hot dog from a street vendor in Central Park, ate lots of real NY bagels and so much more. Our hotel was in Times Square and it's true that the city never sleeps.

Back to the dog show: The individual breed shows are held at Piers 92 and 94 during the day, with half on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. I expected a lot more from the day shows at the Piers – the AKC National Championship in Orlando is bigger (go figure). There were only a dozen vendors or so, and most of them were way out of my price range. Because of this, I didn't spend nearly as much there as I had budgeted. Good thing too. Food all over NY was expensive, and I spent more than I had expected on cab rides. (I didn't brave the subway until day 3.)

This is Keeper. I'm madly in love with him.
All the dogs were gorgeous. We got there early and had ringside seats for the GSDs. This was a benched show, so all the dogs had to be on display the entire day. This allowed us to schmooze with the dogs and owners/handlers afterwards. Awesome! I think I met my next puppy’s daddy. Seriously! Don't tell Jedi.

The night shows at Madison Square Garden were all that I had imagined. It's a huge venue and it was full of dog lovers. There were also a lot of casual spectators, which I found surprising. The announcer made several comments about these being intentionally bred dogs from reputable breeders, and urged people not to buy dogs from pet stores or puppy mills. Touché!

We also visited the Pennsylvania Hotel across the street from MSG and checked out the basement where dogs were being groomed, pottied and exercised. This is the official hotel of the Westminster Dog Show and every year it becomes dog central.

One of many!
BTW, there is nothing low fat in NYC. I ate like crazy (hot dogs, bagels, pizza, cheese cake and Rueben sandwiches top the list) but only gained half a pound. My Fitbit said I walked 31.37 miles in 5 days, so I think that helped. It was wet on Sunday and colder on Tuesday, but the weather was never unbearable. I had friends go to the show a couple years ago and it was 8 degrees. EIGHT! By comparison, our low was 38 and the high was 52. Cold by Florida standards, but all in all not bad.

Next time I go to NYC (and yes, there will be a next time!) I will make sure to see the Statue of Liberty, the Natural History Museum and the Bronx Zoo. For now, I'm still trying to process it all. There are hundreds of NYC pictures between me and my three traveling companions. Here are a few that I think you might find most relevant. Enjoy! -- K

There were 14 beautiful German shepherds vying for Best of Breed. I don't envy the judge, I couldn't pick one.

Mia and her handler, Jesse, in the benching area. They came all the way from Florida too!

The four of us at Madison Square Garden. We made it!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We Did It!

Jedi and I did Chariots of Fur again this year. In years past we've only done the mile. This year we did the whole 5K. In the cold. In the sand. My goal was to walk it in an hour. I was over by 19 seconds -- not bad!

I'd tell you all about it, but it's Wordless Wednesday! Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Showtime -- The Premium

The next big thing we have to do for the show is create a premium. This is the official announcement of a club's event. It contains the show’s entry form plus a slew of other information. Essentially, a premium is the contract between a club and prospective exhibitors.

As Show Secretary, the premium is my job. Unfortunately, a template wasn't handed down. Grr. I've been sketching out our premium for weeks now. Hopefully, I'll develop a decent template that can be passed on to the next Show Secretary -- saving her a lot of work. Like everything else, this is more complicated than I'd like. There's a lot more to it than I thought. The AKC requires a premium to include:
  • The name of club hosting the event.
  • The show’s official event number.
  • The date(s) of the event, its exact location and the time of the event’s opening and closing.
  • The words “Licensed Show” when the event-giving club is not a member of the AKC.
  • Whether the event is benched or unbenched. (And if benched, the hours that dogs are required to be on bench must be included.)
  • The AKC Secretary’s certification that permission has been granted for the club to hold the event, along with the AKC logo.
  • List of the officers of the event-giving club and the club secretary’s address.
  • List of the members of the Event Committee and the Show Chair’s address.
  • Name and address of the AKC-approved superintendent being used, or in the case of a small operation like us, the show secretary's name and address.
  • Name and telephone number of the veterinarian associated with the show, and whether the veterinarian will be in attendance or on-call.
  • Notice that the club may cancel the event due to extreme weather conditions.
  • Name, address, and assignment of each judge.
  • The statement that the event-giving club will collect recording and event service fees for the AKC.
  • Closing date and time for entries.
  • Entry fees and an entry form.
  • List of prizes and trophies, with an accurate description of prizes.
  • Hours and location where private exercise pens may be set up.
  • The following statement: "Exhibitors should follow their veterinarians' recommendation to assure their dogs are free of internal and external parasites, any communicable diseases, and have appropriate vaccinations."
Whew. There are even more requirements for all-breed shows and/or obedience trials.

Since exhibitors choose which shows to enter based on the premium, most clubs also include:
  • A statement of the policy on refunding entry fees.
  • Whether the event will be held indoors or outdoors.
  • The time when exhibitors and handlers can enter the site.
  • A list of nearby dog-friendly hotels/motels and directions to them.
  • Overnight and reserve parking information (if available).
  • Description of social activities available to the exhibitors.
  • Admission and parking fees (if any).
  • Available amenities (i.e. electricity, concessions, indoor toilets).
  • A site map.
  • Information/availability of a reserve grooming area.
  • Other special attractions (i.e. temperament test, sweepstakes, other shows in cluster).
Currently, our premium is a 14-page booklet. I know! I have a list of over 200 people to send it to. I'll be thrilled if 25% enter the show.

My contact list is proving to be another problem. It's ancient and was handed to me as a pdf, not an editable Word document. I spent 20 hours putting everything into an Excel spreadsheet. I spent another 10 hours combing through old emails, various GSD club sites and past show catalogs gathering more contact data. To date, I have email addresses for 150+ people, and only mailing addresses for another 60. Soon I'm going to have to get my premium to as many of them as possible. This is what I've done:
  • Set up a gmail account for the show.
  • Created a mailing list with all the email addresses I have.
  • Made mailing labels for all the people without email addresses.
The plan: two weeks before we release the premium, I'm sending a mass email to everybody on the list. The email states that the club is working off an old mailing list and they're on it. Recipents will be asked to respond if they wish to be removed from the list. (We understand that things change and some people may not be on the GSD show circuit any longer.)

At the same time l'm sending a postcard to the USPS address people. The postcard also states that the club is working off an old mailing list and they're on it. I'm asking recipients to send an email to the gmail address if they wish to have a premium emailed to them.

All recipients are told that I will send the premium out shortly. Hopefully, they'll be happy to get it.

Ideally, this strategy will keep the cost of postage down. I did the math. Printing, envelopes and postage for 225 14-page premium booklets would be about $530. Thank goodness for email! I don't think our club could afford that expense up front -- if at all. However, the AKC does insist that we send them four copies of our premium when we release it. (Why they can't get it via email and print all the copies they want is beyond me!)

As you can see, I've been busy! If you'd like to see the premium you can use the "contact me" form to the right and I'll send you one. Send an email to GSDCNFLShowSec at and I'll add you to the list. We're shooting for a March 1 release date. 

As tedious as the premium seems, it's nothing compared to what's next -- the catalog! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

More Fun Stuff from AKC

I’ve mentioned before that Jedi and I both have short attention spans. Seriously, we’ll try something, get bored, then try something else. This is why Jedi has a dozen novice titles, but nothing higher. Lucky for us, we find our joy in the doing instead of having titles. On that note, here are two new(ish) things from the AKC that Jedi and I are looking at.

Farm Dog Certified Test

This is similar to the Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC). There are 12 different things that a dog must do to pass. They are:
  • Politely greet the judge
  • Perform a walking pattern around a farm environment and a passive stranger
  • Jump on a hay or straw bale
  • Walk by farm animals in a pen
  • Walk over or through unusual surfaces
  • Sit patiently during a supervised separation
  • Pass through a gate
  • Wait patiently as handler feeds livestock
  • Passive/no reaction to another dog passing by
  • Passive/no reaction to a typical farm noise distraction (i.e. a tractor)
  • Passive/no reaction as the dog approaches livestock
  • Allow handler to physically inspect and remove debris from face, feet and coat
Unlike the CGC, the dog has to pass twice under two different judges to qualify. Unfortunately, there's nobody nearby for us to train with. However, Jedi has been exposed all of this (or something similar to it) through his CGC, Herding Instinct Test, GSDCA Temperament Test and barn hunt. I found a group in Malabar (2.5 hours away) that’s offering this test in March. Don’t tell Hubby, but I think we’re going for it!

My biggest fear is that all this must be performed on a loose lead. Jedi gets excited and pulls. BADLY. The only way I know to counter the pulling is to wear his ass out before the test. I guess we're showing up early.

Achiever Dog Program

This is right up my alley! This was developed to get people to try new things with their dogs. Dogs who are awarded a placement or earn a qualifying score in three different AKC recognized sports receive a certificate. That’s it! And it’s retroactive. A dog must earn at least one of the three sport achievements on or after December 1, 2017. However, previously earned titles or achievements can be used for two of the three that are required.

How about you? Are you ready to try something new? Earlier this month I made a list of 18 different things to try with your dog in 2018. Why not pick out a few and try for an Achiever Dog certificate?

YOU SHOULD KNOW: Like all AKC dog sports, a dog must have an AKC number to participate. Don't have one? No problem! If your dog is obviously a purebred, you can get a PAL (Purebred Alternative Listing) number. You'll need to take some pictures, fill out of form and send in a small fee. A few weeks later you'll be good to go. Information here.

And what if your dog is not a purebred? Still not a problem! If your dog is a mixed breed, you can get a Canine Partner number. Just fill out a form and send in a small fee. Information here.

See, there is no reason why you can't get out and compete with your dog. WARNING: Earning those little ribbons is addictive! I'm sure you'll treasure them as much as I do.

Now, get out there and do something with your dog. And if you happen to be at the same trail as me and Jedi, make sure to come over and say '"Hi." -- K


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not a Puppy Anymore

A friend of mine sent me a picture she took of Jedi at the scent work workshop last week. It's a great picture, but it made me cry. Why? Take a look for yourself:

Do you see the gray around his muzzle? My Jedi isn't a baby anymore. He still acts like a goofball, but the truth is, he's five and a half years old. Jedi is a middle-aged adult. Where did the time go?

It's Wordless Wednesday, so I'm going to stop talking about gray hairs. Lucky you! Why not hop around below and see what others are sharing today? Later, -- K

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sniffing Again

My German shepherd dog club held an AKC Scent Work workshop last Saturday -- and it was awesome! RK opened her house to 20 people and 16 dogs. A trainer (and fellow club member) prepared a comprehensive program for all of us. She spent the day teaching us how to introduce scent work to our dogs. She started with the basics for the very beginners, gave additional tricks and tools to novice handlers, and ended the day with some challenges for those of us who are more experienced.

This was the first time Jedi and I have worked odor in several months. I was happy to see that he remembered the game: find odor, tell Mom, get hot dogs.

This instructor comes from a different background than the instructors we've had in the past. It was exciting to learn something new. Odors were hidden in unusual containers (like egg cartons) and various objects (like a working music box) were placed in the search area as distractors. Jedi and I had to up our game!

Everybody seemed to have a good time. Lots of information was given out. Fortunately, there were a dozen handouts, so that we could look back on what we've learned. The instructor offered to come back for a follow-up workshop in 4-6 weeks. Homework was assigned to everybody based on their dogs' skill level

Hopefully this successful workshop is a baby step toward the club hosting an actual trial in the fall. Cross your fingers! -- K

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Choose The Dog!

Sometimes my job is frustrating. Last week I really wanted to slap the daylights out of a woman. The police asked me to come to a residence and look at a dog. The dog owner said the dog had been bleeding from his ear and nose. I looked at the dog. His eyes were bright, pupils even, nose clear, ears clean.

The conversation went something like this:

ME: I don't see any signs of trauma, but you should probably take him to the vet to be sure. What happened?

WOMAN: He kicked my dog.

ME: Who is "he"?

WOMAN: My boyfriend.

ME: Did you see him kick your dog?

WOMAN: No, but sometimes he get frustrated and kicks my dog.

ME: Why are you dating someone who kicks dogs?

WOMAN: How do I get him to stop?

ME: Have you tried "Dude, don't kick my effing dog?"

WOMAN: Yeah, but he doesn't listen.

ME: I'm not telling you how to live your life, but if a man kicked my dog, he would no longer be in my life.

WOMAN: I love him so much. I don't want to lose him.

ME: Your boyfriend?

WOMAN: No, my dog.

ME: What?!

WOMAN: He said it was him or the dog.

ME: And you're choosing the abusive one over the one who licks your face?

WOMAN: Yeah . . .

I wish I could say that I changed her mind. I didn't. I gave her my card. The police officers stayed and talked to her for a while longer. They didn't make any progress either. I don't know what to do.

So, here again, is Jedi's Public Service Announcement:

People suck. -- K