Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dog Handling Class

My children dragged me into the world of dog showing a couple of years ago. Until then, the only things I knew about the show dogs I learned from watching the movie Best In Show (actually pretty tame compared to the real thing) and the Westminster dog show on television. That is to say I didn't know much!

The descent started innocent enough...the 4-H dog program. Next came AKC Junior Handling. Then the oldest stepped into the breed ring.

To show for their dog showing efforts we now have lots of pretty ribbons, pictures of the kids and the dogs and judges on a podium, a few prizes and some fun memories spent at dog shows. I also have a book, my current release THE MAN BEHIND THE PINSTRIPES, that was inspired by my time spent at dog shows and much of it written at shows I attended last year.

The one thing I've never wanted to do (we're talking not ever) was show a dog myself.

For the past month (well, the last three weeks out of four), Mackenna and I have been attending a dog handling class to prepare Cato for his first dog show that's coming up. The instructor is a professional handler, dog behaviorist, and, I believe, breeder. She's a total dog person and really knows her stuff. Mackenna loves going. Given all the Norwegian Elkhounds that have been showing up for class (Cato, Nash, Chaos, Maia, Astra, Espen, Axel depending on the night) we've needed extra handlers. One of them has been me.

To say I'm uncomfortable doing this is putting it mildly. I'm not even sure I'd feel comfortable showing a cat!

But I'm a mom and mom's help out when called upon. Even if they have no idea what they are doing and probably look like they have two left feet when running around the ring!

Last night at the class, I was working with Chaos. It was my turn to stack her for "judging" then lead her around the ring and back to the "judge" again. Thankfully Chaos, who loves to be in the ring, knows what to do so I was just there to hold the lead. When we'd finished, the instructor said she'd make a handler out of me one of these days.

Most likely not, since I still have no clue what I'm doing, but it was nice of her to say!