So a crazy-ass boss (Not mine) and vehicular concerns (Very much mine) have shortened my trip to my breed’s National specialty somewhat suckily I figured I’d offer a recap on my findings and some hints that may make it moderately less crushingly awkward (Or more so because I am not an un-awkward individual) to attend your next or first breed-event. So just some quick things I feel were worthy of comment…
1) Spectating is usually more fun than participating.
Time crunches and throwing dogs at people is the normal way of things at overbooked dog shows. While I’m personally all for entering what you feel comfortable in, don’t stretch yourself too thin. Two or three things a day is more than enough and often too much. It’s a very very long week even for spectating, so take a breath on the whirlwind tour and give yourself a day to acknowledge how interesting the dogs, and probably more importantly the people are in your breed. Don’t be compelled to participate in everything, however tempting. Under-booking is a less stressful experience than overbooking.
2) Everyone’s dog is wonderful and don’t you forget it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but for many people, most of whom you will meet at specialties, their Snookums Sugar-Pie Price of My Heart hung the moon, invented the cell phone and is the lead litigator in the libel case against this blog for hurting their feelings. Even the vernacular is painful. Their dogs are flawless specimens of perfection and that’s all anyone will ever talk about (Other people’s dogs are fair game). If you’re looking to improve your knowledge, these are not the people who can assist you. It’s fairly easy to spot the bullshitters but people are more easily drawn in than one might expect. Honestly assessing your own knowledge level and comparing what you know to others in the breed *forever* is always a good policy and never will you get an opportunity like a National.
Also, don’t be that person. Everyone is proud of their dog. You don’t need to take out a banner ad and carry it with you from sunrise to sunset. Answer questions and celebrate your dog, but no one needs a minute by minute recap, or your assessment of the competition. Graciousness is a worthy goal. Bragging is annoying, and no one is as impressed by you as you are. There’s a fine line between excited and obnoxious. Tread carefully.
3) A picture isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on
That these aren’t real is a source of great distress.
Holy crap do some dogs look entirely different from page to reality. It’s shocking how big a variance there is between printed and shared vs. human contact.
4) There is such a thing as offensively competitive.
If you’re going to a national to win and you are not in the top five ranking dog in your breed you’re quite possibly deranged. There are many many many reasons to attend a national, “winning” is obscenely low on the list. Tacky behavior* to get that win is frankly inexcusable, and usually doesn’t pay off.
5) Get your alone time in
Unless you are so extroverted you can suck the life from the joy of others, make sure you get some time in by yourself. Go for a walk, bring the dogs and zone out for a bit. It’s an exhausting stretch of time. Fun, yes, but tiring.
6) Be a trend spotter
Notice something weird happening in your breed? Make a note of it because it’s probably not going away. Weird heads? Bad Toplines? Bad rears? Bad temperaments? Yup, they’re back kids and they’re fairly inescapable if you’re not thinking about the future.
7) Applause is for everyone not just your friends
It really is that remedial
Nothing is more disheartening than crickets when you take your dog around the ring following thunderous applause. You don’t have to like the dog, respect the person or even care one way or the other to pull out your best golf clap and give each competitor their proper respect.
8) Be Useful
You don’t have to solve the world’s problems but taking some initiative to help organizers or even fellow breed people isn’t rocket science.
9) Sleep as much as possible
You don’t get a special badge for doing it all on three hours a night even if you should.
9.5) Buy a damn catalog
Or you have to borrow and it’s annoying and you get yelled at when you make notes in it.
10) Don’t be a Tacky Bitch
This seriously bears repeating. If you have to think about whether or not it’s okay to do, it probably isn’t.
On the whole I’ll say the experience was entertaining with moments of eye-opening crazy. In conclusion, Tutus were worn, money was raised, dogs were (mostly) well behaved, I have enough ribbons to make a small ribbon nest, no one talked to me (Typical since I’m not social) and we didn’t shame ourselves. See ya next year, peeps.
*Also I haven’t forgotten about the shares t-shirt. Wit the Facebook change-over it’s not so easy to track shares but we’re figuring something out.