I love watching dog shows and recently had the opportunity to interview one of our team members who actually competes in them. I'd like to introduce you to Janice Lagard, owner of DogsRule on Etsy. I hope you enjoy it.
Janice, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I have been showing my dogs since 2001. I have always had a dog as a child, and after I was married~ we had dogs too! I love to attend dog shows whether I have a dog entered or not! I started out with BEAGLES...my first show dog purchased was a male beagle pup, he was 'pick of the litter'...my Mikey. But, it didn't work out. I chose BEAGLES because of their sweet personalities as I have always loved that breed. They are great with children, easy care dogs, train well as they are food motivated, and just a pleasure to be around!
I saw my first papillon in 1998, and it was love at first sight! I researched and was finally able to purchase a papillon, after over a year of waiting, as they had stolen my heart! The Toy PAPILLONS were perfect for me with their get up and go size! They are so smart...and just little comedians! I love their look...and they are like potato chips...you just can't have one!
For a complete novice, how would one get started in dog shows?
Well, first you would have to attend shows, check out the dogs you might be interested in, read up on that breed to make sure it is made for you, and meet the breeders! Do your homework! Learn about the breeder, her ethics, her dogs, and ask around about her. They pretty much require the same from you. It is not easy to find a good, reputable breeder. Also, the breed you chose might be a factor as some breeds are easier to purchase/acquire than others.
How much time do you spend grooming your dogs for a show?
I do all the major nail clipping, feet/hock trimming, whisker trimming 'a few days' prior. The day 'before' they get a thorough brushing. Day of the show...they get their bath/conditioning which takes 1/2 hour...and then they get blown dry which takes another good 1/2 hour. And, then their teeth brushed!
Do you hire a handler? Is it best to hire someone, or do it yourself?
I use a handler. That is kind of a personal decision. It has to be awesome to take your own dog in the ring and win! I don't feel confident enough to do that with myself! LOL
And unfortunately, most times, judges look at what is on the other end of the leash. Some judges will put up a handler before a regular person. Majors are hard to come by, and of course you want your dog to have every possibility to win that major. Also, big breeders take their own dogs in, as they have been around for a long time and know most of the judges. Some of the breeders are involved with the Kennel Clubs putting on the shows, so they are in a position to hire these judges for their kennel clubs and they have more visibility with them. It is not easy just because you have a nice dog! It takes a lot of patience, stamina, and heartbreak to participate in this sport!
Generally, how long do the shows last?
Most shows begin at 8:00 AM and finish somewhere near 4:00 PM. But, you may arrive one hour before your ring time, and depending if you win, then you would stay on for GROUPS, then BEST IN SHOW if you win your group. If you are just visiting...then you would go to the ring that your breed of interest is showing in, watch and then decide from there how long you might want to stay, it can be a long day if your breed is on early, and you want to stay for BEST IN SHOW which is at the end of the day. There are vendors to visit, and always food stands etc. So, it is kind of up to you. Normally, I always go to watch the papillons if I have nothing in the ring, then we (I always have a pap with me) visit the vendors and shop! If I have a new or young puppy, it is always good to get them acclimated to the show setting/environment so we will walk around some. : )
How many shows do you go to a year? Do you show all of your dogs at every show?
That all depends on scheduling and if I have a dog out there showing. There are shows every week until the winter sets in, at least in my area~ the Northeast. I try to attend all the local shows in my area~ NJ, NY, PA, MA, CT. Some require staying overnight at a motel...I have attended shows/specialties as far as VA, KY, MD. Usually when there is a local show in my area I always attend, most shows are the weekend, or there are a cluster of days...Thurs-Sun, or Fri-Mon. When they are near me, I go to as many of the days as I can to take advantage of not having to travel far!
No, again, I try to present the judge a dog that I know he likes, you must research your judges too. If I have 'that' dog, then I enter. Some judges like a small dog, some judges like a larger dog, some judges like lots of coat, some judges like movement on a dog...all these factors come into play when selecting a show to enter/attend. Sometimes, I just take a chance...but, it is expensive to enter, pay a handler, attend the show especially if it is out of state and you need to stay overnight...so, it takes some homework and advance prep to line up your show calendar.
What is the atmosphere at a show? Is it highly stressful? Is everyone friendly or extremely competitive and keep to themselves?
Well, as a spectator it is awesome!! It's so exciting and you don't know where to look first! All the different breeds of dogs, 'your' breed, the vendors...it is just unbelievable! As a competitor it is a little different. Yes, you are excited, but nervous and of course anxious. You are there to WIN, and it doesn't always work out that way! People are people...some very nice, some very competitive, and some that stay to themselves.
If a person wanted to set up as a vendor at a show, do you know what items seem to be the most popular?
Well, I look for useful items. Things I can't find everyday. I also look for gifts...start my Christmas shopping early for all my doggie friends! I think special baked goods, charms, decals...hand made items are always neat...things you wouldn't make yourself would be popular! The vendors sell everything...dog shampoos, show clothes, toys, leads, pocketbooks, dog foods, photos, cards , beds, crate pads, etc.
How do your dogs like the traveling and attending the shows? Do they get excited about it?
Most dogs in general want to be with their people...and will go anywhere with them! I like to think my dogs like to go with me and show. I think if your dog did not like it you would know, and of course just enjoy doing other things with them. I can't imagine going to an away show without taking along one of my dogs whether they are entered or not.
Some dogs travel well with no car sickness, others not so well! But, usually in time they learn to travel better and don't feel so nervous in the car. A lot depends also on how much time your dog spends driving around with you too! I make many stops when I am travelling to an away show to let them stretch and potty. Plus, I like to clean their crates if they have been sick so they feel better and are more comfortable! Jasmine knows I am getting ready for a show...she watches me like a hawk! She loves to attend shows with me! When I have to leave her at home and take another dog, I miss her.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of showing their dogs?
I think it is a fun thing! There is nothing better than seeing 'your dog' in the ring...and the WIN ...there is absolutely nothing like it! I don't mind having a handler, because I get to stand there and see every movement my dog makes...enjoy each WIN ,and not be in the ring being nervous! Plus ,I get to see all the other dogs showing and compare them to mine. Those are things you don't get to see if you are in there with them, so I think it can work either way! The 'pride' of seeing your dog in there just makes your heart sing...win or lose! I have stood outside the ring and cried from the joy of seeing my dog looking so elegant and such a good representative of the breed! It takes my breath away, never gets old...and I never want to lose that feeling!
Ce Me Papillons
Ce Me's Stocking Stuffer...Coal
AM CH Farfalle's Fleder Maus...Spider
AM CH Forevr's Belly Dancer...Jasmine
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