Insofar as Sunday is the only day of the week that I sleep late – and by “late” I mean waking up at 7 AM instead of 5:15 AM – Nicole decided that rest was a better thing for me than attending a dog show and therefore headed north to Newton (in Sussex County) to present our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Max, in his first match show.
I’ll let the lovely and ever-gracious Nicole pick up the narrative:
We arrived around 8:40am at Memory Park. The park was a bit of a muddy mess: the ground was soaked in most areas, as were my sneakers. There were quite a few puppies competing that day: a breeder of Rottweilers arrived with some of her puppy people – a total of six Rotties along with an adult that she was entering in the adult competition. There was a menagerie of different breeds; six of the groups were represented and only Terriers were left out. Max was the only hound puppy there, although there was an adult Ridgeback from the Spring Valley kennel named Leif, who was accompanied by his owner, Nancy, and another adult hound, a Bloodhound.
After filling out the forms and paying the entry fee, I received my armband (lucky number 32) and waited for the Ridgebacks to be called. Max and I hung out with Nancy and Leif along with the Junior Handler Damon and his great grandma’s Belgian Tervuren, Foxy. Max was very intimated by the other dogs – especially Foxy – and it took him a bit of time to relax.
When we were finally called into ring #2 , we walked in and I set up Max while Hound Judge Terry Nuss went over him. He did okay: the judge had a very soft hand with Max and took her time so he could relax. He stood fine, he moved very well around the ring and, being the only hound, won the group. The judge did compliment him and told me that he should do very well in the future show ring.
Now we had to wait for Best in Match show, which took awhile since there were about 20-30 other puppies from other groups to go through. The Working Group had a big surprise considering the amount of Rottie puppies entered; the group prize ended up going to a 3 month old Neapolitan Mastiff bitch, very cute and very well structured with nice tight paws that tend to be lacking in that breed.
When we were called, Max was the first in line because he was the largest puppy in the group.
The judge was Cindy Volke, a Saint Bernard breeder who had just finished judging the Working Group. She was a little harder on Max when it came to showing his bite, but she was still very patient and took her time to let him settle down and get used to her. We did the “up and back” and the judge told us to go around to the end of the line. As I approached the end of the line ,I looked back over to the judge and saw her lean over to the ring steward and say “Really nice.” I wasn’t sure she was talking about Max, but I felt pretty good.
After the judge went through the last of the pups, we lined up again for her final look of course Max kept trying to sit down but I got him to stand still. She approached him and stood in front of him looking at his head for what seemed like an eternity, then she went down the line and looked at the others for what seemed a much shorter amount of time. Then she walked over to the table to write down the armband number of her choice, she picked up the ribbon and then she turned and she lloked like she was coming toward but then turned and walked to the center of the ring. She thanked everyone told us that it was a lovely group of puppies that she judged and then she walked toward Max and I and handed us the ribbon for Best Puppy in Match. I was stunned, thanked her very much and she just complimented Max telling me that he is an outstanding puppy.
I ran back to my car, got the camera and Nancy took some pictures of us, the judge and the gaudy ribbon… because it is all about the GAUDY Ribbons.
Side Note: I honestly didn’t expect much on Sunday; I wasn’t sure how Max would act. He did very well for a puppy less than 5 months old. Also, these “shows” may just be for fun but they are given by the local kennel club (in this case Newton KC) and judges tend to favor the members’ pups in the hopes of receiving a judging assignment. I didn’t know anyone there and I figured the judge who had just picked the winner of the Working Group (the really nice Neapolitan) would favor it or the Australian Shepherd pup that was much more behaved than Max.
Max turns 6 months old on November 1 and I hope to enter him in his first real show on November 12. Hopefully, Gene will go with me for the long ride down to Maryland.
Here is the picture of Max receiving his first award.