-How to Prepare a Dog for Exhibition
In the matter of dog-showing there must always be before the eyes of the would-be exhibitor a lively fear of that canine omnipotence, the Kennel Club. Let her walk warily, for there are pains and penalties as well as specials and prizes, and it is easier to gain the one than the other.
To begin with, even the tyro knows that only the pure-bred lady or gentleman of quality may grace the show bench. Be a cross-breed never so clever and affectionate, there is no place for him in the ring.
Nevertheless, every pure-bred dog is not a "flyer," any more than every thoroughbred horse is a "crack," so that the proud possessor of a likely "pup" would do well to save possible expense and disappointment by enlisting a candid and expert friend's advice as to his chances in the ring before entering him in an open show. It is here that the many local canine societies do useful work. They cater for the one-dog man or woman, by offering a chance of competition and comparison at small cost.
The committees and members of these societies seem to vie with each other in giving friendly help to their novice members. The subscriptions are nominal, the entry fees very small, and dogs exhibited at their sanction shows need not be registered. Many of the larger ones support open shows and guarantee classes, and offer specials to their members. I can give no better advice to the beginner than to join one in her neighbourhood. She will learn much that is useful, and, if she is of a friendly and sportsmanlike disposition, receive valuable advice and help.
Registration of a Dog
Should the exhibitor find that her dog compares favourably with others of the breed at a sanction show-and the specimens shown are almost invariably of high merit-she will proceed to enter him for an open show, held under Kennel Club rules. Let her ascertain this last point with care, or she will find that she is excluded from exhibiting in future at any other show authorised by that august body.
This fact ascertained, she must then register her dog at the Kennel Club, for no unregistered dog may be exhibited at their shows under penalty of future exclusion. She should apply for a registration form to the secretary of the Kennel Club, at 2, Savile Row, London, W., and fill it in most carefully. She need not be alarmed if she has lost the pedigree of her dog-a contingency allowed for on the form-or if it is unknown to her, for that also is allowed for. But all particulars that she can supply she should be careful to give. The fee of half a crown must be enclosed with the filled-in form. The name desired for the dog is to be given also thereon, and a choice should be submitted in order of preference, as the club reserves the right to refuse a name or prefix.
But the novice may have bought a dog that already has been registered. In that case, she must be sure to apply for a transfer of ownership form, which means a fee of five shillings, or she will incur penalties, and any prize the dog wins will be forfeited. A change of name, too, is possible, but costly.
The dog having been duly registered, or transferred, and a show chosen-a matter on which expert advice is useful, for though judges may be impartial, they naturally have their preferences as to certain types in certain breeds-the exhibitor faces the question of preparation of her exhibit. If she has been showing at sanction shows, her dog is, or should be, in show form, and all that remains to do is to keep him therein, and, if possible, improve him. In case, however, the animal has not yet made a debut, a few hints may not be amiss.
To stand any chance of success in the ring, a dog must not only be free from actual illness, and able to pass the vet, but should be in the very pink of condition. A dog shown, or " put down," as it is termed, in faultless trim constantly scores over an animal slightly superior in points, but out of coat, too fat, listless, or otherwise below tip-top form. So, first and foremost, is health, secured and maintained by suitable food and exercise throughout the year, not merely before the show.
To do himself credit in the ring, too, a dog should not only be healthy and handsome, but that comprehensive French term, sage-that is, "wise-like," " douce," sensible. An animal that, like a beautiful terrier I once owned, falls into a paroxysm of terror or rage at the touch of a stranger, that, " ring-shy," cringes abjectly, or, rampant on its hind-legs, with open jaws and laid-back ears, endeavours to kill every other exhibit, stands but small chance of an award, whatever his points. To avoid such a fiasco, from the first train your dog to follow you quietly on a lead, regardless of man or beast beside, and stand ready and alert when required. The ideal shower-and how few there are-needs no teasing or exciting when in the ring. I have in my mind an exhibitor whose dogs are models in this respect, and know how untiring and able has been his training. Constant practice is often necessary for long beforehand to secure perfect ring manners, but it pays in the end. The ideal at which to aim is alertness without "rowdiness." Terriers, especially, should show correct expression and movement, and if bored and listless are much handicapped. On the other hand, a " rowdy " dog is an unmitigated nuisance, and liable to be ordered out of the ring if not controlled.
Preparing a Dog for Show
In many breeds a certain varying value is attached to texture of coat as distinct from colour or markings. In preparing a dog of these breeds for show, the novice is faced with a problem. There must be no " faking." Dire are the consequences if any such attempt is detected. Yet preparation of long-haired or rough-coated dogs is essential. Cutting, singeing, colouring, and the like are strictly prohibited. But the removal of genuine dead coat by means of brush, comb, or finger and thumb is practised with advantage and fairness. Here, again, the novice needs advice, for even this legitimate "trimming" must be done judiciously, or is best left to the professional handler. The good points of the animal should be emphasised, and-well, the converse can be guessed.