MORE EXCELLENT NEWS:
Ashra finished Champion of Bulgaria today :-) with one more CAC & Res. CACIB.

The judge's written critique was quite amusing: correct teeth, typical head, a bit skinny but otherwise all other features are correct to the standard.

We tried walking around the ring to calm Ashra down, and it worked but the gaiting is something we still need to keep working on. I can't seem to get her to move fast enough without getting too excited, launching into a zoomie and/or trying to jump on me. If I move her slowly, she starts trying to sniff the ground... bah. At least stacking is taken care of, thankfully.

I suppose we will go to the next show in February or the one in March, to try to get two more CACs to qualify for Gr. Ch. Bulgaria and Balkan Champion.
 
Today was our first show since September last year, so we were a little bit rusty. The gaiting, in my opinion, was absolutely terrible - Ashra was over excited and running everywhere, but it was good to see that Ashra's stack was much improved (I didn't have to hand stack her, she did well enough with the free stack).

But I have some EXCELLENT NEWS despite that: Ashra won the intermediate class and received her first CAC. So, because this is a multi-day show, if she wins tomorrow, she will qualify for the title Champion of Bulgaria.

The judge's written critique:
Medium substance, great top line, good movement (I'm surprised at this one, since I slipped and almost fell over), deep chest, charismatic with an excellent temperament.

 
I want to warn anyone who is thinking of dealing with this Russian kennel, to go to Moscow and visit them to make sure they don't get ripped off. I have had no end of trouble with this breeder and I would not recommend them.

I recently bought a show prospect puppy from these people and the puppy is a complete basket case with zero confidence and lacking in stability - it is unable to adjust to normal everyday life:

- It pees/poops immediately while screaming any time it is left in a crate or alone
- It pees and runs away from any new experiences or encounters, including something simple such as a visitor coming to the door or saying "hi" in a soft voice.
- It is obsessed with its own filth (poop), and that of others
- It licks itself and the walls obsessively
- It barks and freaks out at inanimate objects
- It is afraid to go outside, and as soon as it has done its business, it tries to run back in
- If we go any further than 50m from the house, the puppy shuts down, puts its tail between its legs and starts shivering
- It snaps and snarls at my 14 month old because it gets stressed out really easily
- It has no interest in other dogs or people, and freaks out if dogs/people are walking behind it (even at a distance of 20m)

I have had this puppy for 8 days and have tried to slowly introduce it to new people and environments, but it just shuts down and starts shivering or peeing. There has been absolutely no improvement since the day I got it.

1. The breeder told me that they never saw any problems with the puppy before. In fact, their description of her temperament was "confident and self-assured", but had I known otherwise, I would not have put down the deposit.

2. Then they admitted that she peed whenever she encountered something new, but that they thought it wasn't a problem.

3. Then they said that puppies not sold until they are 5 months old, living in kennels, can develop these sorts of behavioural issues (the puppy is 3 months old)

4. Now they are calling me a liar and saying that they have never seen temperament problems in any of the dogs they've bred and supposing that I am not taking care of the puppy properly.

5. They are blaming me for a loss of profit, trying to make out that I ordered them to keep a puppy natural (not true - the puppy was 3 weeks old and still had a tail when I contacted them) and as such they will now have trouble selling her in Russia if she is returned.

6. They do not want to refund the price I paid or even contribute to the costs of shipping the puppy back despite the fact that they were dishonest to me. The truth is, they really just don't care about anything but money.
 
I've finally found a new Schutzhund club (Berlin Nord), but unfortunately we just went for one session and now they're on a winter break until the end of January. What I found good about this club is that they were open to my wanting to use a harness for bitework, and only suggested that I use a collar for the obedience part because it allows for more precise control of the head. You're probably wondering why I care so much about the harness:

The Dobermann's neck has a design fault: the shape of the vertebrae make it more prone to neck injuries, and if you want to minimize the risk of that happening you want to avoid hard jerking pressure on the neck. If your Schutzhund club doesn't want to respect your wishes in this matter and is hung up on old school ways, it might be time to change clubs. My priority is my dog's health, because nobody is going to be paying the vet bills or living with the dog except me.

And good news: I've put down a deposit on a puppy, but I'll leave it as a surprise just as to where I'm getting her from for now. I will be meeting the breeder and picking her up from Warsaw at the end of December :-)
 
I unfortunately had to return the puppy as she became gravely ill just three days after I got her. After bad experiences with a sick puppy last year that I had to put down at the age of 5 months due to kidney failure and tumours, and many sick rescue cats and kittens this year, I just didn't want to take my chances. Especially not with what is supposed to be a show prospect, and what one pays for such quality.

And so, I am officially on the look out for a new puppy. I guess it's not too bad, I just got the mandatory liability insurance to participate in dog sports and so Ashra and I went to a club this week to check out the Schutzhund scene. It's all quite exciting and even though we haven't done any bitework, we've dabbled in obedience and Turniersport... Ashra was very much enjoying herself.

There's only one thing that has come up which I'm wary about, and that is the use of harnesses vs collars. Pretty much everyone at the club is against the use of a harness, even in bitework and going so far as saying that it damages the dogs' nerves around their chest... um what? Anyway, I was thinking perhaps this isn't the club for me. If there's one thing I won't compromise on, it's my dog's well-being.
 
Judge: Ronald Menaker (USA)
Today nothing special happened, it was another express judging and we were done by 2pm (compare that to yesterday, where we finished at almost 3pm)... he waved Ashra and Gala out, and then went on to take another look at Miss tiny and Miss unknown brown. We did the stack alright, although with not much time there really wasn't much place to screw up with it. The gaiting was a bit off, Ashra was pulling and she jumped on me again, so the lap around was ruined. The down and back was okay, but that was all we had.

I think overall, what we're going to have to keep working on is movement (especially since most judges are all-breed judges), I think in that aspect yesterday was probably the best and only time we got it right. Ashra's free stack is improving a lot (I guess it's just something they eventually get), she even did a couple of free stacks outside to show off. Maybe both of us were just tired as well, who knows. I'm certain though, that I am never participating in another 10 day show. 7 days is my limit where at the end of the day I start to feel uncomfortable (and with the exception of Expocan, I really can't think of any that go for 10 days, anyway!).

The result: fourth place, graded excellent (Gala got third today).
 
Judge: Steven Gladstone (USA)

Today was a great day! We did everything quite well, stacking could have been improved in the line but overall, I was very proud of Ashra. And... we didn't come last! We came third graded excellent, beating Gala (who ironically won and beat Princess on Thursday when we were late). Really happy about that, and definitely going to be competing tomorrow.
 
We took a day off, not just for a rest (although we needed one by now!), I had to get Ashra's exportation certificate.
 
Judge: Kirsi Sainio (Finland)

Today was supposed to be a good chance at coming something other than last for us, but it was just bad from the get-go. The taxi driver who our usual taxi driver sent, didn't come to get us at 1, and we waited about 10 minutes, then started calling other companies. The first taxi that arrived came at 1.40pm. We rushed to the entrance, trying to get our number/registration done and there were just a bunch of people milling about and it took about 10 minutes for someone to even come to help us.

The next bit of bad luck: the ring numbers had changed, and a fifth ring had been built in. There are now 5 judges for the remaining 4 days... and the judging was going a lot faster. We ran around trying to find out where we were, and arrived just in time to see the judge finish with the bitches in Ashra's class. She let us in to be judged anyway, but it was not a fair judgement at all, we had less than a minute total in the ring, and we weren't compared to the others gaiting in a circle or even stacking together. We stacked in front of her, and then did the down and back, and ran around by ourselves. The upside? I think we did it very well, no mistakes. We just had... no time, and weren't judged against the others.

The result: third, graded excellent.

Miss Ugly isn't coming back, but another bitch is competing in the last four days.

And then there's more bad news... the English judge isn't doing the Dobermanns. The last three days are all US judges (maybe some of you have heard of them):  
Friday - Robert Slay
Saturday - Steven Gladston
Sunday - Ronald Menaker

I don't even feel like turning up to handle under them. Our last experience with a US judge was definitely not a good one, and he pretty much waved my dog out without even looking at her (and that was with a professional handler).
 
Judge: Inbimbo Nicola (Italy)

Today was awful. We screwed up both the gaiting and the stacking except for one before the hands on examination. Why? Because there were about 50 pieces of liver spread all over the carpet, and Ashra kept lunging to get them, her head was in "Schutzhund deep nose tracking" position almost the entire time. The judge was not at all impressed - he even made us go around again immediately, but it was the same thing. Ugh... well, I didn't know you could hold their muzzle during the stack (maybe that's stupid, but I had the impression they would mark you down for it), but if tomorrow is anything like today that is definitely what I will be doing. An iron grip. I don't know what to do to improve the gaiting, though. Pull her along by the ear like a naughty little child?!

Anyway, it turns out Miss Ugly has left the competition because she came into heat, so as far as I know (I'll have to check to see if anyone else signed up for the final four days of competition), it's just Ashra and Princess de Akido San.

The result today: second, graded very good.

Some other eventful happenings:

Two handlers from another Dobermann kennel came up to me and asked me when I planned on breeding Ashra, and if I was already taking reservations for puppies. I thought it was weird, but maybe this happens a lot at dog shows?

Also the groomers sent one of the kennels' trainers to work with us on the quick stacking and stack after gaiting, and he was sleazy with a capital S, but at least he helped us out. Maybe we need to hang a sign over our necks which says "Thank you, but at the moment neither of us are available for breeding".

    Author

    I originally hail from Australia, although I can be found in different parts of the world.  I stumbled upon my first accidental show dog (Ashra) and pedigree Dobermann this year and I am currently in the process of looking for the second addition to our team.  I'm a lostie trying to make it in the show/sport world without a clue. Learning as I go, as newbies do. I aim to document my experiences as accurately, and truthfully as I can, because I myself have found that such information (from the point of view of the "nobody"), is lacking and elusive.

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