Play By Play At A
Dog Show
(December 2004)


                                        The December 2004 Miami Dog Show is now history with all the wins documented in the AKC record books, the new champion (AM/Int Ch Chambrays Chisholm Sir Lancelot)  has already received his certificate from the AKC, Karley has already competed at the Eukanuba championships (January 15th, 2005)  and Maddie became only the second Chambray dog at Westminster (February 2005), however I received so many queries and emails about the action at the show from first-time visitors that I wrote this article exclusively for the occasion.

From the  many E-mails and phone calls from first-time visitors to that  dog show at Miami ,   I decided to do a running commentary based on the questions that were asked pertaining to the proceedings for the day to explain the order of events that transpired at the show.

If we were to stop and look around at the happenings at a dog show from a first-time visitor's perspective  the word that would come to mind is "mad house"! From the conversations that I have had with many of these fine folk, some had no clue as to what was going on with "dogs entering the ring", "running around", "standing", "being touched by the judge", "running around again", "lining up again", "going back and forth" and then "being handed colored ribbons", and of course "why didn't some dogs get ribbons?".

For those of you that are old hands at dog shows, the following probably will not interest you, but for all those that came to root for the home team (Chambray Labradors), many of whom had never attended a dog show before, starting at the beginning might shed some light at an otherwise confusing state of affairs.

Remember, there are no human guides and  no real programs intended for first-time visitors, each person that walks into a dog show event is on their own. Before them unravels a totally foreign world full of people in a hurry with dogs in tow, dogs on tables being combed, fluffed, blow dried, powdered and heavens knows what else! Although some of the exhibitors are kind enough to stop for  a second or two to answer the incessant questions that are posed by the amazed "deer in the headlights" newbies, there just isn't enough time to explain the complexities of the goings-on at one of these canine-events in a second or two of well-meaning answers.

So, since there were so many of our clients and puppy owners present at the Miami show who were new to the dog show scene and  had so many questions, I will do a recap of what transpired at the Labrador ring to create a series of events that can be followed using some of the questions that were asked.

Q. Who are the 2 people inside the ring?

To begin with there were 2 people present in the ring before any of the dogs were called in. The lady/man dressed with a red blazer is the ring steward. The ring steward is in charge of keeping records and maintaining an even flow of dogs in and out of the ring in a proper sequence. Stewarts are usually local people, club members and some are even training to become judges. The other person in the ring is the judge that has been hired by the club hosting the event. This judge comes from a vast pool of people that have been certified by the AKC to be proficient in each breed so that they are licensed to judge each of those breeds.

Q. What do the arm bands signify?

Each dog in its breed is given a number to compete with. There is a catalog with all the dogs listed by the armband number so that the spectators can identify each dog. So, by looking at the arm band of the exhibitor in the ring, the spectator outside the ring may check the catalog and identify the dog being handled by the exhibitor at that moment. As soon as the handler exits the ring, he may use another arm band and show a different dog in another class or even run to another ring and handle a totally different breed of dog there with a corresponding arm band number for that dog.

Q. How do you know when it is your turn in the ring?

Each dog is placed in an appropriate class to compete in. Puppies that are 6 months old and younger than 9 months old compete against each other, then a class for 9 to 12 month olds will compete against each other and so on until you reach the seasoned dogs, the ones with the most experience which is the Open Class. Males compete against each other first in this fashion and once they are through with all the males, it starts all over again with the females. Since each person has an armband for a specific dog, the ring steward will call each class into the ring in the prescribed order and by "catalog number", so it is imperative to listen for your class and to know your dog's number.

Q. I saw Jessie walk into the ring with a yellow male puppy named Dusty and there was only one other black puppy in there with her on Saturday. I understand the part where the judge gave Dusty a 1st place, but what happened at the very end when Dusty came back into the ring against all the other puppy winners and there was a lot of cheering and excitement when he apparently was awarded something else?

Yes, Dusty won the 6 to 9 month old male puppy class, in fact he won that class both days against the same dog, but it was under 2 different judges. On Saturday, the Greater Miami Dog Club sponsored a special Best Puppy In Show event. So it is the judge's job to select the Best Puppy from each breed to go further and compete against other breeds. So in this case, Dusty was selected as the Best Labrador Puppy for the day over the 9 to 12 male and the over the 6 to 9 female and the 9 to 12 female as well. Dusty was given the opportunity to compete in the Sporting Groups against all those other breeds. He did not win at that level, but just winning Best Labrador Puppy was a big win for him. We have had  1 Best In Show Puppy and that was Am/Int Ch Chambrays Chance N Counter CGC when she was only 6 months old.

Q. How many dogs can win points in a breed? How did Lancelot obtain his championship and some of the other dogs that won, did not?

Only 1 male and 1 female from each breed may win points towards their championship from each breed for that one show. For that to happen, there must be a prescribed number present in competition for the awarding of points. It takes a total of 15 points accumulated over the dog's show career to be awarded an AKC champion's title. There are several other stipulations in addition to the 15 points, but for now this answer will suffice. Lance needed 3 more points to "make up" his title and there were enough dogs in competition for those 3 points, so by being awarded Winners Dog over all the other males in competition, he had accumulated the necessary 15 points for his championship! Meanwhile, Duchess won the AM Bred class and then won over all the other females for the Winners Bitch award, it too was worth 3 points since there were enough females to warrant the 3 points. Those were her first points, so now she needs 12 more points to become champion.

Q. How many points does the runner up receive (Reserve Winners Dog/Bitch)?

ZILCH! Nada! Nary a single point to be made, unless there is a default against the Winners Dog. In fact, at our level of handling and competition being "awarded" a Reserve Winners Dog/Bitch (runner up) is a taken as a loss! There is no rewards for coming in second, unless the Reserve Winners ribbon is awarded to a puppy or young dog. Then we may assume that the judge deemed that puppy worthy of consideration for the future. Dogs from the top classes, such as the Open class that are in contention and then are handed the Reserve ribbon, is considered to have been beaten by the eventual Winner receiving the purple ribbon for the points. My long standing motto has been "If you receive the Reserve ribbon, what could have you done better to have won the Winners Points?".

Q. From watching outside the ring, there seems to be a big difference in handling abilities from person to person, what does it take to go in the ring and handle dogs? We saw some people just standing waving food in front of their dogs and we saw some of your handlers really get into it with your dogs and they seemed to win everything.

Believe it or not, no prior experience needed and as can be seen be first time visitors, it is obvious!!!!! All you need is to pay the entry fees for the dog and then show up at ringside and walk into the ring with your dog at the appropriate time. This is the only sport or endeavor that a total novice can walk into the field of competition against the top professionals in the business. It is very evident in the Labrador ring about the disparity in levels of competence from one extreme to the other. There are people handling dogs there that are total novices with  absolute no handing skills what so ever. There are some there that are "hobby exhibitors" and they have a little more experience than the neophytes, but compared to the pros, they do very little for the dogs that they are supposedly handling, which makes it a lot easier for those of us that have mastered the art and can bring out the best with our exhibits. The bottom line at the dog shows are results and those that are at the top of the game will win consistently with the dogs that they are handling. Meanwhile, the beginners and the hobby exhibitors are very important for they create the "numbers" needed to win over in order to receive the all important Winners Points!

Q. At the very end where the champions come into the ring, why did the male and female dog that had competed earlier go back in and what were the awards given out, as we saw some walk out of the ring with no awards. How important are these awards?

The last group of dogs into the ring of each breed is the Best of Breed competition. It is the judge's task to select from the lineup before him/her what in their licensed and qualified opinion is the best example of the breed, thus the designation Best of Breed. They are also to choose a Best of Opposite Sex, so that if a male is chosen Best of Breed, then a female is designated Best of Opposite Sex and vice versa. The male and female that competed earlier out of the "classes", were the "Winners Dog" (male) and "Winners Bitch" (female) and they have the opportunity to compete against the champions, also known as "specials".

For instance, at Sunday's show, the judge selected Am/Nat Ch Chambrays Twist of Fate, aka Karley, handled by Jessie Herzon as the Best of Breed Labrador, since Karley is a female, he then needed to designate a Best of Opposite Sex (male in this case). From the lineup before him, there were 3 male champions, plus the Winners Dog to choose from. He selected the chocolate dog,  Ch Grandquest Family Ties as Best of Opposite Sex. Next the judge needs to select a Best of Winners from the Winners Dog and the Winners Bitch, in other words, this designation is for the "best non-champion" from the classes. The judge selected Chambrays Chisholm Sir Lancelot CGC as his Best of Winners over the female that had been awarded Winners Bitch.

As for importance, Best of Breed is the big prize for the day in each breed. So Karley won the ultimate award on Sunday, just as her sister, Am/Int Ch Chambrays Mad About Madeline CGC TDI won Best of Breed on Saturday, a clean sweep of the BOB awards  for the weekend for littermates.

Q. It seems that Chambray had about half of the Labradors competing and won almost all the prizes and awards, it doesn't seem fair to have all your best dogs there while some other breeders only had one or two dogs.

The number of dogs a breeder, exhibitor or handler brings to a dogs show does not increase the chances of winning. The best dogs with the best handling will win at a higher frequency, regardless of the number of dogs entered by anyone. There is no fair or unfair, as it doesn't matter how many dogs a kennel or person brings. A breeder may bring 20 of their own dogs, but if they are of inferior quality, all 20 will be losers, while the breeder who brings just one great dog will win out 99% of the time.

It is about having the best dogs and bringing those dogs on. My philosophy is simple, I will enter my absolute best dogs and I challenge any other breeder to the same and let's let the dice roll. Results speak volumes and I proudly post the results for all to see right here on the website. I honestly believe that each and everyone of the dogs that I bring to the dog shows is a potential winner. Our Partners Program represents well over 20 breeders, exhibitors and owners, so that as a group we have numerous top dogs, thus the larger entries from Chambray. Most other breeders, owners and exhibitors will bring one or two dogs to compete, this usually is as deep as their quality goes. In theory, a dog show allows the "BEST" dogs from a given area to gather together for competition and if the majority of the best dogs come from 1 kennel or breeder, then those are the ones that will win on a consistent basis as our dogs do in Florida.

Q. There were Labradors there that seemed overweight and could barely get around the ring, why is there such a difference between your dogs and some of those others?

Great observation! There are many owners that have bought a dog or two and show up at the shows with these dogs that are totally out of shape and condition. The standard for the breed states "Labrador retrievers should be shown in working condition!" The only work that some of these dogs do is trying to get up on the couch at home. Put into a working field environment, both the dog and owner will collapse within 5 minutes of any semblance of "work". Many of these people mistake "over-weight, out-of-condition, fat dogs" for "type". The results will speak for themselves as these mistaken folk will spend years showing a dog and eventually time will run out for that dog as we have seen over and over again with the same people over the years.

This is how I see it: "A dog is born with type and bone, no matter how much fat you put on a dog that was born without it, it "ain't" ever going to be typey"

Q. Why does Chambray have such a large following, as we saw at Miami and at West Palm Beach and Ft Lauderdale later in the year?

We are the only breeders in Florida that also are trainers and also handlers. This is a profession to us, not a hobby, backyard breeder or weekend outing as it is for the majority of those in the Lab ring. We are the only ones that offer a Puppy Package that includes training with each puppy placed, also our Lifetime Support System is unique amongst breeders, the amenities are unparalleled and the total family environment is not found elsewhere. I call that a total WIN/WIN situation for those that have one of our Labradors!




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