On a small acreage south of Brisbane Kim Jennings and her family currently have a menagerie including chickens, parrots and dogs, lots and lots of dogs. Kim breeds Tenterfield Terriers and has invited me along to the 2018 Dog Show Spectacular held at the Durack Showgrounds, where Stilwater Jack o’ Spades known as Jake, and Stilwater Queen o’ Hearts, or Evie, will compete in the Conformation event.
A grand tradition
There are approximately 340 breeds of dog recognised throughout the world.
Charles Cruft, the general manager of a dog biscuit company, commercialised the dog show into the internationally recognised modern form in 1886. In Australia, the first dog show was held in Hobart, Tasmania in 1862.
Preparation for a day at the dog show
The stars of the show start their preparation with a bath using special shampoo to match their coats, “I spend more money on dog-shampoo than I do on my own!” complains Kim. The pampering and preening continues with nail-clipping, coat brushing and hair trimming to ensure each dog looks their best. Kim and Katelyn also choose their outfits to look the part. On the day, the Jennings family sets up camp among friends and acquaintances and eagerly awaits the chance to strut their stuff in the arena.
Terrier and trainer both need practice
Like any performers, Kim, Katelyn and their dogs have had to train and practice in order to impress the judges and put on a better presentation than any other Terrier up against them. In conformation judging, dogs must exhibit the established standards for their breed. But you don’t necessarily need to be a dog breeder to be successful, by selecting a good puppy from a reputable breeder you can have a great career and a lot of fun.
Judging, winning and losing
The performance of dog and human in the show ring in front of the judge is strangely mesmerising to watch and nerve-racking for the participating pairs. Kim’s number is called. The moment has come. The dog is happy and confident. Her handler concentrates as they navigate the ring, heads held high, performing in harmony. They stop. The judge scrutinises stance, markings and appearance. Stilwater Queen ‘o’ Hearts stands proudly on the judging table throughout the examination looking very calm and aloof. Each dog is appraised then they all go for another circuit around the ring, while the judge signals changes in the parade’s order to indicate his choice. By the time they are waved out of the arena, first, second and third have been decided with a minimum of fuss. Kim and Evie have come second.
Katelyn now gets the chance to accompany Jake, or to give him his official name, Stilwater Jack O’ Spades. Jake has great markings and physical traits, but he hasn’t liked having to come out in the rain or getting his feet wet, so this pair looks more like a bike with a flat tire than a well-oiled machine. “Never mind, Katie”, says her mother, “there’ll be other shows.” And of that there is no doubt. The team has already entered in the Gold Coast Show being held next week. To see the grand final event by today’s winners, check out this video on YouTube.
Not a dog breeder? Other events for you and your dog
Other competitions held on show days include dog agility contests like hurdle races, obedience trials, fly ball competitions, dancing with dogs, timed lure chasing, and this year we had the Australian Dock Dogs Association, with the winner being the longest jump into a pool of water to chase a ball. Extremely good fun to watch.
Lots of things to see and do with your dog
Where to find your nearest show and further information
There is little time to be bored on show day. If your dog has successfully passed muster on its trip around the arena, there are higher levels to negotiate before the day is over leading up to the highly coveted Best of Show awards, but even if you drop out of competition early, the sights and sounds of other judged events, dog accessory stalls, market stalls and face painting and puppy cuddle couches for the kids, ensure there is plenty to do and see. Everyone has one important thing in common, a love of dogs, so you’ll soon be catching up with old friends and making new ones.
To find out more about Conformation showing visit Dogs Queensland for your nearest agricultural show society and the competitions they run. My recommendation is to go along and experience the atmosphere for yourself and you may just find an event that will provide you and your dog a whole lot of fun.