Dog Shows Through the Eyes of Newbies
I was honored to visit with four brand “newbies” recently in a panel discussion format. These folks shared truly valuable information about what got them started, what they love and even what they don’t.
Huge thanks to listener Dr. Clifton Jamil Kenon Jr whose idea this was. The announcement on PureDogTalk’s FB page garnered 147 comments from folks who were so excited to share their experiences. I hope to make a continuing series of these types of conversations because the stories I received were so amazing.
Kenon, Kristin Eberly, Neil Trilokekar and Kayla Croteau represent a wide spectrum of the dog fancy. They share their fascinating journeys into the sport of purebred dogs, talk about mentors, what they love and what has been frustrating in each of their individual experiences.
“Meet people where they are,” Kenon advises mentors and would be mentors. “Everyone comes to the table with their own goals. This is a sport that lends itself to diversity.” Kenon’s mentor, Susan Giles, visited with me on the podcast just recently.
The best help Eberly found is from her handling class instructor, who she says offers “criticism wrapped in something positive.”
Trilokekar said his mentors have encouraged him to study and think critically. “They share their knowledge without expecting me to be obedient,” he noted.
Croteau said her mentor is always open to the silliest of questions and is always positive.
- “Set your own goals,” Kenon said. “Celebrate the wonderful people who help you get there. Ignore the people who want sink everybody’s ship. Don’t go broke doing it. Have fun.”
- “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Eberly offered. “Long time people in the breed can be intimidating. Those people will help you if you just ask.”
“Find your fascination,” Trilokekar encouraged. “So many facets you can be engaged by. Learn about history, and heritage of your breed. Go do other things with people when you’re at a dog show. Build a relationship. Never stop learning.”
- “Coming in it was pretty terrifying,” Croteau opined. “Remember we’re all here because we love the dogs. Set small goals. Don’t just come to the show, show and go home. Hang out. Have an open mind and big ears.”
Pam Bruce: Memories and the Essence of Style in Purebred Dogs
Pam Bruce, fourth generation Canadian dog fancier, joins host Laura Reeves in part one of a wide-ranging very personal interview on history, people, judging, breeding and the essence of “style” in purebred dogs.
The quintessential dog person, Bruce shares stories and humor and insight reminiscing about the legends of the sport – Michelle Billings, Jane Forsyth, Anne Rogers Clark, Michael Canalizo, Ginny Lyne, Dick Meen and many more.
Bruce finished her first dog, a Maltese, at four years old. Her family owned Maltese and later Lhasas. Perhaps best known for her association with Canalizo and the Grandeur Afghans, Bruce breeds Airedales today.
Allowed to Brush
In a lifetime of “doing hair,” both brushing and hand stripping, she finds that the two coat types develop balance. “You brush away and pull towards, so the actions balance each other out.”
Steeped in the tradition of learning from the ground up, Bruce talks about the tasks that she was “allowed” to do as a young girl. Generational standing gave her no “out” on the grunt work. Being trusted with tasks like cleaning pens and brushing dogs was an “earned” privilege.
Being the first person at the dog show was a badge of honor, Bruce noted. Describing her work day as an assistant with one particular handler, she would have all toy dogs bathed before 8 am, dry them in order of their ring time and then work through the bath and blowout of the poodles, Afghan and Lhasa.
Bruce describes the origin of her understanding of focus, being meticulous, and taking care of the dogs first.
“One thing I learned,” Bruce said. “I don’t remember a bad word being said about anyone or their dogs. Everybody has a talent and something to bring to the table. You should never ever speak of anyone poorly because together we make up what is this passion for all of us, which is this sport.”
Teamwork to keep breeding dogs
As one of the few remaining active connections to the days of big kennels, Bruce continues to emphasize dog shows as an evaluation of breeding stock.
“Those big working kennels had numbers,” Bruce said, “but that afforded us the ability to learn the quality (of the dogs).”
Lacking those facilities in today’s society, Bruce said teamwork picks up the slack. Sharing in a network of other Airedale breeders, “I can go back to the people working with me and get what I need.”
“Breeding is about the artform, the intrinsic qualities of the breeds,” Bruce said. “The best indicator of what you’re going to get is what you’ve had. Quality begets quality. You need to have foresight. I’m always breeding three generations ahead.”