Friday, June 25, 2010

Competing in the Bred-By Exhibitor Class

Hi All!

I have to first apologize for my delay in posting the next chapter- my computer was at the Computer Doctor (that is really the name of the business...) and it took longer to repair than we anticipated! I am so relieved to have it back at home...

Today's subject is on my favorite- and least favorite- class at the dog show; The Bred-By Exhibitor Class.

BBE is my favorite class to compete in, when I can. It says to the world (and the judge) that I have bred this dog- that I am responsible for creating this dog- and that I am very proud of what I have created. Please keep that sentance in the back of your mind.

BBE is also one of my favorite classes to judge, when I have a good entry. The pride in the handlers; the quality of the entries; THIS is what judging should be about!

I want to share with you one of the most valuable lessons that Marieann taught me. (and at the time, it wasn't a lesson I felt I needed to learn...)

Why do YOU enter your dogs in Bred by?

Is it because of the reduced entry fee that is offered by some clubs? Is it because you want that imitation gold medallion that the AKC offers?

Maybe its because some judges will point to a dog out of Bred-by for the points...whether or not they deserve it?

OUCH!! That sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it?? Sorry- but its the truth! There are LOTS of reasons that people enter the Bred By class- and most of them are the wrong reason!

If you remember NOTHING ELSE from this blog- PLEASE remember this: There is a VAST difference between ELIGIBLE for Bred- By Exhibitor Class, and WORTHY of Bred-By Exhibitor classes.

The Bred By Exhibitor Class is the only place where breeders have the opportunity to show where their breeding program is going. The dogs they enter in BBE are the dogs of their future; dogs that they are proud to have their names on as Breeders and Owners and Exhibitors.

Many judges will hope to find their absolute best class dogs in the BBE class. Thats where they SHOULD find their best dogs! When we mentor new judges, we hope that we find great dogs in the BBE class to use as examples!

The BBE class is not the place for dogs with major breed type or structural faults; questionable temperaments, or poor movement!

Not every dog that you, as a breeder, regardless of your time or experience, will produce, is worthy of being finished out of the BBE class! They may be eligible to be shown in Bred-by, but are they really worthy?

Think about that for a minute... Think about the dogs you are currently showing...

It takes far more talent for a breeder to evaluate show prospects, and choose which ones are truly outstanding and worthy of that BBE Medallion- and which ones need to be shown in Puppy/Am Bred/Open (or not shown at all) than to toss everything in Bred-by and save a few bucks on the entry fees! Yes, eventually they will finish regardless of which class you enter, but what have you said about your breeding program, yourself, your standards... Your Breed???

Lets go back to what I said earlier...

"BBE is one of my favorite classes to compete in. It says to the world (and to the judge) that I have bred this dog, I am responsible for creating this dog, and I am very proud of what I have created."

If you are showing dogs in the Bred By Class that you are less than thrillled with, they are in the wrong class! The decision to enter BBE or not is a decision that only you can make; its a decision that ties into your standards, your ethics, and your goals.

The quality of the dogs you show speaks to the judges... and believe me...the judges remember!

If you are not proud of that puppy, and sure that it is something outstanding, maybe it doesn't belong in the Bred-By class! If that youngster that you have been showing in BBE isn't pretty darn close to your ideal= maybe you would be better off in Am Bred or Open!

Moving on, remember I said that the Bred-By Class is also my least-favorite class, at times?

From a judges standpoint, there is nothing more heartbreaking then to look out at your Bred-By entry and see entries with bad fronts, straight rears, freaky temperaments...etc. To be honest, the first time it happened to me I was shocked- then insulted- then downright MAD!! Unfortunately, I have gotten used to seeing some pretty mediocre dogs in the BBE class!

Bred By Exhibitor should be every judges strongest class. It should be the class from which most points are awarded! It should be the class which holds the greatest depth of quality!

I urge you to be critical of your own dogs, and before you enter the next dog show, decide "Is she/he TRULY worthy of being shown in Bred-By?"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Become a Student of the Breed

Student: One engaged in a course of study.

Study: The process of aquiring knowledge; examine thoroughly; apply the mind to learning.

In order to succeed in any venture, it makes sense that one must be prepared. In order to read and write, children go to school. Before they are allowed to drive, they attend drivers education. No one would expect a surgeon to pick up a scalpel without spending years in medical school, would they?

Why, then, do we expect that we can successfully breed and compete in dogs, without first learning everything about the history, purpose and structure of our breed?

Most people fall into showing dogs, and end up with their chosen breeds without a great deal of forethought. Novice owner/exhibitors have a "pass" on the education for awhile, as they have so many other things to learn about our very complicated hobby.

However, if your goal is to step beyond the perpetual novice status, you need to become a student of the breed.

Being a student of the breed is more than being able to recite the AKC standard. Can you put that standard in other terms? Do you understand the Whys and Wheres of the standard?

Lets think about this for a minute.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is related to which group of dogs? Which modern breed(s) are our closest relatives?

Our standard calls for a very different front end assembly than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Why? They are both Corgis... Whats the difference? Why do we have different colors? What about coat texture? What is the difference in their heads?

How many times have you had non-dog people ask you the difference between Pembrokes and Cardigans? I'm sure you know what the differences are-- but do you know WHY they are different? Do you understand what those differences mean in the way the dogs develop?

Lets go back to studying the breed...

How much do you know about early Cardigans? Do you know the names of the first male and female Cardigan Champions? Do you know who imported them to the US? What about some of the most influential bloodlines in the US? Canada? Great Britain?

As a student of the breed, you should be reading all of the great articles on our breed. I can't encourage you enough to visit the Cardigan Commentary website and read each and every one of the articles that is posted there; those articles are written by many of the icons in our breed.

Get your hands on as many Cardigans as you possibly can. Learn to find that "upside down egg" and prominent prosternum; correct wrap, moderate angulation, correct coat texture, sloping croup- all of those things that we talk about.

Attend the National Specialties! I cannot stress this enough! No where else will you see the depth of quality in Cardigans. No where else will you have the chance to pick the brains of so many experienced people. In addition, the CWCCA allows its members to attend the Judges Education seminar, so you have a fantastic learning opportunity in that!

As you become more experienced in Cardigans, branch out a bit. Start to watch our related breeds: Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Skye Terriers, German Shepherds. By learning about our cousins, you can learn to appreciate our breeds finer points. *Note-Pembrokes are a Spitz breed and therefore not as closely related.

By becoming a student of the breed, you will hopefully ignite the same passion for the breed that inspired some of the great breeders and mentors. Its an education that never ends, and one that has such great study partners! Our breed needs people who love the breed for what it is, and what it was, and are willing to work very hard to educate the rest of the fancy on what a great breed the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is.

Best of luck to all of you! I hope you enjoy your education as much as I am enjoying mine!