300 — Episode 300!! Favors, Table Training and Hot Dogs
Episode 300!! Favors, Table Training and Hot Dogs
Holy hot dogs batman… Episode 300?! How did THAT happen? Time flies when you’re having fun!
Honestly, a year ago, I wasn’t at all sure I’d make it this far. I’d just taken on sole ownership and management of PureDogTalk. I was running the show out of my own VERY shallow pocket and, frankly, scared to death… The fact that I decided to retire from a 25 year long professional handling career, start a year-long ENORMOUS home remodeling project AND take this on full time, pretty much all in the same month, speaks to either my courage or my sanity, depending on your perspective! Lol
Hindsight being what it is, I probably *could* have managed this all a bit more smoothly, but, the gods are kind to crazy people … today the Patrons Support is growing steadily – a HUGE shoutout to those of you who supported the show early and faithfully… YOU literally are the reason there is a podcast today… I’d love to have even more folks join our outstanding community of PureDogTalk Patrons. For as little as $5/month, you, too, can be counted as supporters of GREAT content and education for the entire purebred dog fancy. These funds are earmarked exclusively for operating expenses. Website upgrades and more are on the list when that pot of gold grows just a little bit more… Just Click the “Be my patron on Podbean” button on the homepage at www.puredogtalk.com
Meanwhile, we have another VERY exciting and VERY cool partnership to announce in the VERY near future… Yep, this is a tease… Watch this space…
So, with all that business out of the way, here’s a thing…. I LOVE doing this job. It not only combines my passions – dogs, talking dogs and helping people – but *I* literally learn something every single day.
And, what’s our teaching moment for today? This podcast is a perfect metaphor for your life in dogs! How you say? Try this out.
- Follow your passion.
- Take chances, even when they are SUPER scary.
- Seek and find the positive in every. Single. Day. Even when you have to dig for it. Maybe even especially when you have to dig for it.
- Nothing worthwhile is handed to you.
- Nothing is “deserved”… everything is “earned.”
- Competition, even from the REALLY big guns, makes you better, sharper and tougher.
- Doing well and doing good are NOT incompatible.
- Helping others does as much or more for you as for them.
- Kindness is free. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.
- As soon as you say, I can’t do this stuff, stop and think about it. I did. And I had some pretty significant obstacles along the way. Literally, if I can do it, you can do it.
Back in the day, before I had a twice weekly podcast, I had a weekly magazine column called As the Wheels Turn… Here’s a little Throwback Thursday to celebrate moving forward.
Peace, Love and a Favor for a Friend
“When I first started, I was amazed by the ‘trading favors’ system,” said a young handler friend recently. Her comment sort of startled me, and got me thinking about this unique and worthy tradition in the sport. “I mean, wait, what? You show my dog and I get paid? What’s that about? What other job is that a thing? I mean I can’t just go sing somebody else’s concert.”
This is not a secret, by any means, in the tribe of professional handlers, but it is a quiet reality. We all help each other. It’s part of our unwritten code of ethics. Conflicts frequently require covering and an assistant is not always available or the right person for the job.
Enter the world of handlers and their network of friends and acquaintances trusted to help show the dogs on their string. The “hat in hand” look when somebody shows up at your setup at [7:15]… “What do YOU have at 8 (or [9:15] or [10:30])?” Or the frantic arm wave from a ring that’s running long as you stroll by, “Can you go take that dog in? I’ll try to make it.” And if you are able, you do it, gladly, so that when YOU have a giant cluster the next day, or the next week or the next month, you have favors “in the bank” so to speak.
Additional unwritten rules:
- Don’t hand off a problem dog. I once, as a young handler, had somebody hand me a very spooky Dalmation and say, “Here, go show this.” I did, the dog freaked on the exam and was excused. This makes me look bad and is not the way to “win friends and influence people.”
- Give fair value. If you need help, be sure to offer help to others. What goes around really does come back around — either good or bad!
- Don’t hustle your friends’ clients! And, on the flip side, be aware that if you hand their dogs off too often, your clients may go looking for a new handler…
- For the clients, try to be fair and reasonable with your handler. You have hired them to do the best for your dog. Trust their knowledge and experience and let them do their job. As much as most of us have longed to be cloned, it hasn’t happened yet and we can only be in one place at a time.
Handling Tips FAQ — Table Training
Summer Solstice has arrived. Long hours of daylight and bored kids. Dog shows around every corner in every state and nation. Time to tune up Fido, load the wagon and head for a fairgrounds near you.
One thing we haven’t gotten to is working with table dogs. This also applies to teaching puppies of larger breeds the fundamentals of stacking.
Growing up, my family never invested in a grooming table. I groomed dogs on the ground. I taught puppies and dogs to stack — on the ground. I spent a LOT of time on my knees. I bought my very first grooming table when I started showing dogs for other people. I showed large and giant breeds. The first time I *ever* put a dog on a table to be examined was while helping Don Rodgers (may he Rest in Peace) and Pat with a gazillion Shih Tzu at one of the Idaho summer shows. It was nearly a quarter century ago this week and emblazoned in my psyche for life. I’d been assigned a black dog (already an uphill battle as I’ve come to learn) and we were showing to Joe Tacker. The wind was blowing (as it always does in idaho) and I thought I’d be SO smart and face the dog into the wind…. Which, PS, was backwards. Mr. Tacker approached the table. Looked at the dog. Looked at me. And said, “I bet you didn’t think I knew which end was which!” To which I responded in absolute mortification, “I knew they paid you the big bucks for a reason!” while rapidly spinning the dog around to face the proper direction. Oh. Dear. God. I’m pretty sure I still have the scars from the daggers Don was staring into my back. I did manage to get RWD, but my humiliation was complete. It took MANY years before I next attempted a table breed…
The last dozen years or so, I’ve had lots of opportunities to improve my skills. I have found two methods which both work well for me, depending on the personality and temperament of the dog I’m training.
Can’t Touch This
The first works really well for those independent, all-about-me, “I got this” little dogs who prefer the DIY method. Using the same technique described in the free stacking article below, put the dog at the back of the table and let them “walk up” into the stack.
This has the decided advantage of looking very impressive. It requires lots of confidence from both you and the dog. At best all you’ll have to do is fix a foot… The disadvantage is, without lots of practice, the dog may not be properly positioned in a timely manner and you’re left juggling with stacking while the judge watches.
If using this method, be sure to watch the judge’s preferred table procedure in advance. Everyone does it just a little different. *Generally* the dog is placed on the table as the dog before is moving in its individual pattern.
This works well for the less confident dogs, the naughty rambunctious dogs and everything in between. Pick up the dog in a comfortable position, make sure the leash is properly out of the way around your neck (I STILL have an unfortunate habit of putting it the wrong way…), check that the table is steady, then quietly set the dog down. Lift gently under the chin and between the back legs to place squarely and towards the front of the table where the judge can easily reach him. Use the 1-2-3-4-5 method described in the basic stacking tips article to properly set the feet and present the dog.
I avoid feeding dogs bait on the table whenever possible. Just as feeding a dog on the ground before the exam, it sets a bad precedent for the dog to look for food from the hand coming toward him. For those dogs who are particularly food motivated, grab first and ask questions later can have unpleasant consequences when it’s the judge’s hand that’s “grabbed.”
Table presentation, just like its equal on the ground, varies greatly between handlers and their charges. From standing in front at the end of a long lead, to standing beside and showcasing the head. Practice, try new things and then practice some more before using your technique in the ring.
Hot Dogs, Hot Shows and Hot Travel
I am a fanatic about servicing my dog vehicles — regular oil changes and maintenance — the slightest weird clunk and I’m running for the mechanic. Vehicle trouble with dogs on board is a major liability that I avoid like the plague. Over the years I’ve dealt with the occasional blown tire, dead batteries and the usual wear and tear items. Nonetheless, due to a rigid service schedule and a platoon of guardian angels, it is normally a minor headache rather than a huge crisis. I suppose I was overdue for a major fail, just by the law of averages. And it finally happened — three hours from anyone I knew who could rescue the dogs and I on a day that saw temperatures soar over 100 degrees.
When your vehicle is dead beside the freeway, you have to draw on preparation, roadside assistance and, frankly, all the good juju you can muster. My sprinter van was equipped with heavy duty insulation, a roof mounted AC unit, a roof fan and vent. Even with very proactive and insistent advocacy on my part, the dogs and I still sat for two hours with all the doors and windows open staying as cool as possible while awaiting a tow truck.
A faulty wire on an alternator installed two years ago was the eventual diagnosis. Lesson learned? Even if you’re SURE there could not possibly be anything wrong with the vehicle that was just serviced at the dealership a couple months ago, err on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry is a truism because, actually, it’s *true*!
Our amazing tribe of dog people came through with a dozen offers of help, even for driving three hours each way if needed, and eventually a place to crash for the night and get the dogs out.
This all goes to remind us that NONE of us is immune to the inherent dangers and risks of long hours on the road. No matter how diligent, how young and virile, how shielded by angels, every single time we take our dogs to the next venue, we need to be aware and prepared.
As we all gear up for the hot summer months, long hauls from Point A to Point B, little sleep, exhausting days and unending nights on the road, here are some important reminders:
Water: Never leave home without it. A gallon per dog is what I try to plan on when driving.
Shade: Whatever your preferred shade cloth, make sure it’s easily accessible in an emergency.
Air Flow: We and our dogs can all survive high temperatures (perhaps not in perfect comfort, but without serious concerns about life and death) as long we have sufficient air flow. Crate fans, roof fans, vents, windows, whatever it takes to keep the air moving.
Crates: Are our friends!!! My mother was nearly killed in a horrific car accident 25 years ago. The four puppies with her were safe and unharmed, largely due to traveling in dog crates.
Calm: A quiet dog who isn’t stressed by the situation will handle the heat far better. And remember, our dogs take their lead from us. If we are hysterical, the dogs will feel the stress and suffer more.
NEVER: Trust a generator or even electrical outlets to run AC. If it is hot, I simply do not leave my dogs. Far, far too many horrible scenes of devastation over the years could have been prevented with this one simple precaution. The lesson was drilled in to me the hard way many years ago, when my RV generator quit during a high elevation show in Colorado while I was at the group ring. The dogs were ok, but it could just as easily have gone the other way if I had dawdled on the way back, stopped to chit chat or socialize. Today’s temperature monitoring devices which call your phone with alerts are invaluable for short trips away), but nothing beats the peace of mind of simply having the rig supervised at all times.
Let’s keep ourselves and our doggies cool, hydrated and safe. Plan a water fight on the grounds, dress sensibly, and always remember — no ribbon is ever more important than your dog’s safety.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER — FRANCIS BACON
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