How to Show a Chihuahua- Take My Advice, (I'm Not Using It)
I don't know how I became a "show" person. I really just wanted a pet, a beautiful pet with a stunning pedigree and lineage that would make the Royals in London blush, other than that, I hadn't thought anything about "showing".
I started with a large breed. Russian Wolfhounds (no, these are not the ones that look like a giant, melicious dustbunny- those are Irish Wolfhounds- the Russian Wolfhound- aka Borzoi- are elegant creatures with soft, flowing lines who never forget an insult. My first was called "Fable". He came with a contract four miles long and when I finally read the stupid thing, (about three weeks after signing it, paying the money and taking the dog- who by that time had cost me a billion and four dollars in vet bills for a mysterious sensitive stomach thing) I realized that I had "missed" the part about the "mandatory" showing of the said dog.
Hmmmm. I hated showing dogs. I was raised by parents who had show dogs. The idea of parading around in the ring while God and everyone watched and critisized your every move-well, if I wanted that I would move in with my well-meaning mother. But, there it was in black and white. And so, I began showing.
I still show, I stll find it isn't my forte, and I still find that nine-year olds do a better job of it than I do on some days. But, let me break it down for those of you that think you'd like to try.
First, pick out your outfit. This is the most important aspect of the showing of the dog according to many. "The outfit makes the man" as the saying goes, and in this case, makes the dog. I will share my wealth of experience with you on show outfit "do-nots". Do not wear: a shimery evening gown (especially if you are a guy) polk-a-dot capris that fit great after six months at Weightwatchers, a backward baseball cap with bling-bling because you named your dog Puff Daddy, baggy overalls because the show is at the fairgrounds, 4 inch high heels, or a button that says "my other dog is a showdog". Do not wear flowing scarves, pigtails, or a faux fox fur jacket. Do not wear the same outfit as the judge or dresses that you crocheted yourself at home in your spare time. These are all taboo.
Instead wear things that a flight attendant would wear, minus the airline logo and hats. Wear sedate, stylish and smart- unless you have a really cruddy dog- then go for broke! Shoes should be flat-soled and not ones that could catch on the extention cord that someone taped down rather haphazardly at the east corner of the ring- some guy named Sam that had only done this once before and was very sorry when you took your fall by catching your spike heel which caused you to flip up in the air- pulling your poor chihuahua into a flying arc which resembled something that might have been conceived as a face plate for some Bradford Exchange specialty clock. Not that this has ever happened- but- you wouldn't want it to, would you?
Next: The dog. Pick a good one. Well, what else am I supposed to say about this? It's a show dog after all. If you are taking "Fluffy-no-name" into the ring just because he/she is AKC registered and the parents: "Guido and Annie" have a champion somewhere back in the 10th generation- well... okay. But really, if you are looking into the idea of showing dogs- well, it would stand to reason that the first rule would actually be "show a show dog." Don't you think? Your mentor (the dog's breeder and your new best friend- much to the breeders horror) can explain what makes the dog "show quality" what the minor faults of the dog might have that you should be mindful of, and how to groom that dog for the ring. If the "mentor" says, "well, its a show dawg- but I ain't never shown before.." run away. Give the dog back and run away fast. It seems nowadays, everyone has a "show dog" but few have shown. How can that be?
Okay, now that Champ has been verified as a show dog- let me ask you this: Did ya train em? Show dogs are notcontrary to popular belief, instilled with a set of magical genetics that make them stand inside of a ring and suddenly, go forward- correct tail and ear set- happy expression- innate stacking ability and poof! you have done absolutely nothing with the dog except set it on the floor!!! You must train this dog, just like any other dog. Lead break it, teach it to stack on the floor or table, fiddle with it's mouth, it's testicles, its body. Teach it to respond to something in the ring- treats, toys, something. Otherwise you will be standing there with the dog that is turned backward, staring off into space (while you are standing forward staring off into space) someone out of the pair of you should be paying attention.
Now the ring: The dog knows its stuff (hopefully) and you are well-dressed (hopefully) and the Ring Steward has called your number. In you go. First rule (again, learn from my mistakes) If you carry the dog into the ring- remember to set it down. It is a poor show when the judge says (around in a big circle) and you are walking briskly with little Princess still lodged tightly in your arms. They kind of like to see the dog gaiting- how it moves- these crazy judges.
Also, hold the lead. Perhaps Fido does walk right by your side every morning to get the paper- the ring is different. It is scary. It is nerve-wracking. There is no paper... hold the lead.
As you can see from my picture- avoid the deer in the headlights look if you can. I have never been able to be rid of it, Thank goodness Mrs. Forsythe was kind enough to look at how large my dog's eyes were and not mine. I typically have a tendancy to go deaf and blind when I am in the ring. Do not do this. Friends have told me that I stop breathing- do not do this. Several times I have caught myself humming- do not do this. Do not sing love ballads to the judge, make chit-chat like "how bout those Mariners?" announce the lineage of your dog, explain that you have taken this up in middle age because of empty-nest syndrome and finally- never look at the judge and say "have you ever judged a _______ before?" Those things are always offensive (well, maybe not the love ballads-). Do what the judge says, when he/she says it. Don't block the view of your dog ever. Don't line your ass up with the judge during the down and back, line up the dogs rear- believe it or not- that is all the judge (in most cases) wants to see. They are being paid to check out the rear movement in the dog, not how great those capris look on you now that you have been in Weightwatchers for six months. Don't ever let your dog attack a judge and then say "oh, Pwinsess is a bit gwumpy today". Have control of your dog at all times. A judge is just like a mailman: Although they deal with the possibility of being bitten at ever turn- they don't like the idea...ever.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to have the judge point at you toward the end of your class or breed's judging, this does not mean the same as your gym teacher pointing you out in 8th grade gym class. You are not excused to hit the showers- this means he/she is picking your dog! Do not run out of the ring screaming, do not pull out your cell phone to call uncle Harry, go to the area of the ring marked 1, 2,3 and stand in your place. You will be given a ribbon. Thank the judge. Do not try to hand the judge your dog in exchange for the ribbon. The judge does not require an exchange. The judge actually lets you keep the dog! As a matter-of-fact, if you like this kind of chills and thrills, you get to do it again, and again, and again. And, in a final word of advice, if you are bitten by theshowbug: start the process to refinance your house early! Unless you're independently wealthy- you'll need it.