Friday, November 13, 2015


A written critique
I got Jedi three years ago hoping he would be the show dog I'd been dreaming about for 35+ years. I quickly discovered that it's harder than it looks on TV. We haven't been as successful as I like. I know part of that is because I'm inexperienced. Another part is that I'm not as consistent as I should be. It doesn't help that this awkward, out-of-shape middle-aged woman chose the breed with the longest stride, or that German shepherd conformation rings are full of professional handlers and the politicking that goes with them.

Two weeks ago Jedi and I entered the International All-Breed Canine Association's Sunshine Autumn Sieger in Ocala, Florida. It was incredibly hot (87 degrees and humid). And five shows in two days is a grueling schedule -- but we did it!

The IABCA shows were great. Unlike the AKC, the judges talk to you. Jedi was judged against the breed standard, and the judges were honest with their assessments. I wanted to know why Jedi isn't getting points in the AKC ring. Is it me? Is it him? They told me. Short answer -- it's a bit of both.
It was hot, so Jedi rested whenever possible.
Jedi has faults. Some of them are fixable. His chest should fill out with time. (Three of the five judges said he was still young and a late bloomer.) The written critiques confirmed my suspicion that his hind quarters are a bit loose, but they all stated that with proper conditioning he should be able to strengthen his back end. Other things aren't fixable. Jedi's easty-westy front feet are what they are. And he may never be completely comfortable during the hands-on exam. How much of that is my failure and how much is his innate personality I'll never know. One judge suggested having Jedi do other unrelated activities to build confidence. She said that this often spills over into the conformation. There's some food for thought. That being said, Jedi received the highest scores possible (five V-1  ratings) and walked away with an International title.
I was also fortunate enough to take a 45 minute handling class from an AKC judge. She was a wealth of information. I could have listened to her for hours. She gave me stacking tips and showed me a better way to hold the leash. There are definitely things that I could be doing better, especially since I'm on the awkward side and usually up against professionals who do this on a daily basis. Yeah, I got my work cut out for me.
A fun part of the weekend was the Halloween costume contest. The winner got a free entry coupon for a future IABCA show. (Jedi would have preferred something edible.) We entered with team costumes and dammit, we were cute. I thought we had a chance until a yellow lab puppy showed up dressed as a witch. Seriously, who can out-cute a lab puppy?! We had fun nonetheless.
IABCA should come back this way in another 6-8 months. I'll enter Jedi again and see what the judges have to say. Until then we're practicing (inconsistently -- that's all on me) and doing some back-end exercises. We're going to try something else too. More on that in a future post.
Thanks for following Jedi's journey. His handler is clueless and inconsistent, but we're having a ball. Later, -- K