Drove down to Kulai (in Johor) yesterday morning at an ungodly hour after not having had any sleep at night for these shows:
Devina came over at 6am and we left at 6.30am. Have to admit that I was speeding the whole way--driving in the dark with no sleep the night before is not a good idea!! I almost dozed off a couple of times, so I tried to get to the venue as quickly as possible. Ate lots of chewing gum to keep myself awake. Not fun! Made the 350km trip in just under 3 hours.. am waiting for the speeding tickets to arrive, LOL.
Anyway, Lyra did good at the shows! Once again, I made sure that she had LOTS of sleep the day & night before, so she was alert and in an awesome mood. She was great in the ring--her tail NEVER stopped wagging. I only had to use the "wag your tail" command once, during group judging. She was awarded CCs and BOBs by both judges (Keith Brown from New Zealand and Robert Dawson from Australia), which was awesome.
Also, Lyra has gotten so good at free stacking! She stands four square with no help now--I noticed that she also often stands four square at home, for absolutely no reason. Gotta give her lots of pats on the back for being a great learner. We have really come so far from where we started.
When I got Lyra, she was a 5 month old bundle of energy with no attention span whatsoever! It took me 3 weeks to teach her "sit" (very frustrating since it took Cadence barely a DAY!) because she was so incredibly food motivated that she would go bananas whenever she smelled treats. So I tried toys, did not work! But one day, it clicked... and she figured it out. From there, she learned all the tricks that I'd taught Cadence... but when I decided to show her, it was an entirely different ball game.
First, I had to learn everything about handling... from zilch, with nobody to help me. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends who gave me lots of advice and even recorded videos for me to learn from! Second, Lyra had to unlearn "sit". She would immediately sit on the table when I put her on it, and sit on the floor with the lead on. No good. So we had to start from ground zero, so to speak.
Started by marking her natural stands with "wait" (couldn't use "stay", because I'd trained her to sit and stay). Would reward her every time she stood still, with a treat. Slowly, I upped the amount of time that she needed to stand still before she could get a treat. Soon, she got so good that we could progress to stacking instead of just standing still. Trained in front of the mirror for MONTHS. Got her to stand four square without moving--took AGES... ages, I tell you!
Then finally, I had to get her to stack, pay attention to me, AND wag her tail for long periods of time! Sounds easy? Well, it's not. When you factor in distractions in the ring (noise, strangers, other dogs, other handler's squeaky toys, food dropped on the floor), it becomes difficult to get a dog to concentrate on you, and you alone.
People seem to think that conformation shows are nothing but beauty pageants.. they aren't. So much more goes into them. So much effort, time, and hard work. My dog has faults (well, every dog does, but some more than others), so I can't afford to have an untrained dog in the ring. You know what they say... give your dog the best chance of winning--don't handicap her. You can't change a dog's structure or head, but you sure as hell can change how it shines in the ring simply by having a well-trained, well behaved dog. One that enhances its potential and highlights its strengths by standing nicely, exhibiting a good temperament, and being confident in the ring.
I am constantly blown away by how well trained some dogs in the ring are. Even out of the ring! Yesterday, I watched a Husky and American Cocker Spaniel get groomed for hours. They both stood nicely on the grooming table for the entire ordeal, made absolutely NO fuss, and even gave the owners/groomers lots of licks. They tolerated all sorts of blow dryers, sprays, chalk and whatnot without batting an eyelash.
That is not something any regular pet could do without training. So, think again the next time you say that a show dog is nothing but a beauty pageant winner. It has had so much socialization, conditioning, and training from a young age. It can walk around the ring on a tight lead without pulling, head up high, and striding with utmost confidence. It can stack four square in the ring with so many distractions around with barely a whimper, for long periods of time at that. It allows its handlers to fuss over its fur, eyes, legs, and tail with no fight... and most importantly, it allows strangers (judges) to look into its mouth and touch its body without nipping at them. Even after all that, a show dog is still happy and cheerful.
There is so much more to a show dog than mere looks. It takes so much more effort to make a winner than one can see from the surface. So with that, I can say that I am truly proud of my little dog. She is leaps and bounds more amazing than I could have ever imagined, and what a great dog to start my show career with! She is my star, and I love her more than anything in the world. Someone suggested that I sell her to get funds to buy a better show dog who would do bigger winning. I said absolutely NOT! Lyra is mine, and she will always be here. I shudder to think about the day when she will no longer be. I wish that day would never come.
On to happier things.. I got only 2 nice pictures of Lyra yesterday. We'll have to wait for Devina to upload pictures from her camera. =D
The bleaching I did on her red face stains worked well! After 5 treatments, she was almost good as new. Hydrogen peroxide is magic! And it's safe to use, too. A little drying, but I made a point to condition her fur after.
This is where I update news on shows that any of my dogs are entered in, or shows at which I'm just a spectator.