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".
Judge: Ricardo Forastieri (Mexico)
Today wasn't bad at all, we did the gaiting very well, I believe. We stacked up quite well in the first round, the only thing is that Ashra sat after the examination and I didn't have time to stack her again before our next run around the ring. I didn't use any bait today, and I think it's probably better if I don't take it out until AFTER I've stacked her, because she tends to get very excited.
There was only one competitor today: Princess de Akido San (Miss Ugly wasn't showing, I don't know why... but I saw her after the show) and so we came second, graded excellent.
I think tomorrow should be just as good, if not better - I was watching the Italian judge and he took his sweet time, asking the handlers to move the dogs twice or more, and stack them various times.
After the groomers I'd been talking to gave me a demo and a few tips, a handler came out, some sleazy type... and started asking me questions about my dog like where I got her from, how much she cost etc. Then he proceeded to tell me that she was a nice dog to practice on, and that if I was serious about show I should get myself a higher quality dog. I said to him: oh, really... I'm curious, would you please tell me what she's missing that a higher quality dog has? The only thing he could tell me is that her ears should be cropped and her tail docked a bit longer.
Then I gave him my opinion about the ugly bitch who has been competing with her (and then whoops, speak of the devil some guy walked Miss Ugly out of their stall area) and so then I asked him what she had that Ashra doesn't, since her feet are terrible and she's a floppy crop etc. He told me that her chest was more prominent. (Really? That's all?). He then proceeded to tell me about how my pet was nice, but I should sell her and get a show dog because she'll never win. She's not refined, she's too big and she's built like a male.
I humoured him: I appreciate your opinion, but I'm sure the judges weren't grading her excellent due to my handling.
He looked at me a little cautiously: who gave her the grading excellent?
Me: all of them (okay, except the Argentinean judge who gave her very good, but it was the majority).
He then told me he was busy and going back inside the stall, and he just up and left. I told the taxi driver this story (it's been the same guy taking us back and forth each day), and he just burst out laughing: IT'S SO OBVIOUS HE WANTED TO TRICK YOU INTO SELLING YOUR DOG, BUT YOU FOUND HIM OUT! I didn't even realize it at the time, but now it is kind of funny. The guy didn't want to talk to me after that but apparently he's going to watch us in the ring tomorrow. Maybe he intends to try again.
Judge: Jaime Ganoza (Peru)
Today went a lot better than yesterday, although there were a few slip ups on the gaiting that could have been prevented. I was talking to some of the groomers and one of the handlers I spoke to the other day gave me some liver for Ashra. While it was a nice gesture, I think that it's better if I stick to the Lucky Charms. With the liver Ashra's eyes were WIDE OPEN the whole time, and she was just waiting for me to stop paying attention so that she could steal the liver from my hand. When we were doing the down and back, she jumped on me and tried to whack her paws on my hand to knock out the piece of liver, so I hid it away (but by then we had already wasted the down and back). She also tried lunging once during a stack.
The two bitches from the second day were there (the tiny one, plus the really ugly one). And I just cannot understand how the ugly one keeps beating us, it must have something to do with either 1) my so-bad-you-can-barely-stand-to-look handling or 2) Ashra's natural ears. I can understand that judges like a certain type would go for the small one (and she's won a couple of times), but the fact that the ugly one never wins but places just before us is ... insulting.
The result: third place, graded excellent.
After the show by chance I met an ex-handler/Chihuahua breeder.
He took one look at Ashra and said: so, I guess she's won a couple of times by now?
Him: Why not?
Me: Maybe because I'm handling her... badly.
He: (starts laughing) you're handling her yourself at EXPOCAN?! Well, I did the same thing, started off knowing absolutely nothing. It took me 5 years to get to the world championships. I wish you both lots of luck, there are lots of tricks to learn that's for sure. But just my opinion: she would probably be doing very well if she had a professional handler.
He also told me about how he had one really nice dog that was terrible in the show ring for almost three years, but then one day it just suddenly clicked in his head and he started performing really well and won all his titles all in one go, in a very short amount of time. He said not to worry if Ashra is a bit crazy since she is still a young puppy. I guess that's kind of encouraging? He said he'll be coming to the show over the week and he'll watch our turn. I'm hoping he'll be able to give us some pointers on how to improve. We're ready for tomorrow, I guess.
Judge: Gerardo Paolucci (Argentina)
Today was a real bummer, and not because we screwed up but that we just were not prepared at all for the "express judging" that happened. Starting about 40 minutes earlier than the usual should have been a good hint enough - we barely had 3 minutes in total in the ring. The dogs were hurried into line, then hurried around half the ring into a line up again, then there was the examination and down and back quickly in turn and that was all. We aren't able to stack automatically/do it in under 3 seconds - it took us about 5-6 seconds yesterday, and so we just tried to rush it and it didn't work out at all. We only got in a single stack, which was when the judge was doing the examination, and that was all.
I think one of the bitches from yesterday was there (or at least one familiar handler was), the smallest one, and a new one of equivalent tiny size was entered today, too (so there were only 2 competitors in total). Ashra didn't have any time to even steal bait... but not that it made a difference. I didn't see that guy at the office today and so I still have not got a darn catalogue
The result: third place, graded very good.
I'm pretty sure the lack of stacks/our inexperience contributed to our downgrading. Oh, well... tomorrow is another day.
Judge: Andres Villalobos (Mexico)
Every single one of those English Bulldogs was there again today, but we arrived around 2pm and only had to wait about 20 minutes for our turn. Supposedly it'll be the same time for the rest of the show, just different rings (and judges, obviously) and one of the guys at the office said he'd save me a catalogue for the next four days. I really hope so... I'd like to know who my dog is competing against. And who those floppy crops are.
Today it was the same number of females, but there was a new one, along with the other two from yesterday. A really terrible looking one, that I thought we might have a chance of beating (floppy crop, completely flat footed and with muddy colouring)... The dickhead handler who swore at me the other day wasn't there, thankfully, and the other two were nice, telling me when it was time and to follow them (the announcements were just whispered along by the assistants to the people at the ring entrance, who then passed the message onto other handlers who all obviously knew each other).
I think Ashra is getting back to her usual self. I woke up late today, dreading a repeat of yesterday and Ashra basically kept jumping on me until I got out of bed - she was really excited about going to the show?! Well, we did the gaiting quite well (no slip ups!), and stacking was alright with the exception of a few attempts at stealing another dog's bait out from the hands of the handler behind us. I remedied it by systematically feeding a chain of 10-12 Lucky Charms (couldn't find tiny dog treats, so this was the substitute) into her mouth until she finally paid attention. I didn't stack her very well, concentrating more on holding her attention, but she didn't break the stack more than twice, so I think it's a better strategy until she gets used to remaining focused. Still, a huge improvement of focus compared to yesterday, and during the examination she was very good and didn't try to sit or wriggle.
So, I thought perhaps we could make it to third today??? But of course, we were beaten by the flat footed floppy crop. I'm not even going to go there... but I'm starting to get the impression that floppy crops > natural ears is the case here?
The result: fourth place, graded excellent.
Judge: Sheila Verhulst (Canada)
After 145 English Bulldogs (yes, really), it was the Dobermanns. We arrived at 11am, to find out our turn would be closer to 2.30pm and that all the catalogues were sold out (?!), so we just have to estimate the time and turn up tomorrow. The guys at the desk told me that it should be more or less at the same time, so we'll be arriving closer to 1pm. And definitely not forgetting to bring my fold up stool this time!
There were only 3 other females in competition in the youth class (9-18 months), surprisingly (at the last show in Guadalajara, which was just a regular CAC, there were 7 or 8 other competing), and you guessed it: midget bitches again. I wasn't focusing much on them as I was busy handling Ashra, but I honestly was standing around looking for her competitors while we were waiting for our turn, because I thought those females were in the Puppy B class (6-9 months). And my pet peeve was there: another floppy crop (a black one, this time).
I was definitely glad that the judge was English speaking, because she seemed to vary the run a bit for each dog. Ashra was definitely not herself and hasn't been since we moved out, but I'm hoping that will change over the coming days. She was extremely distracted and couldn't focus. Worse than even the first day of her first ever show.
At first I thought we were going to do fine, and we stacked well before the examination. However during the hands on she decided to try to sit, and I had to try to stack her again... the judge even helped me with the other foot . Then during the run she decided that we were playing and tried to jump on me... she went back to a nice stride when I slowed down, but we had already wasted half the down and back, the judge sent us around in a circle to the end of the line and it went a little better. The worst part was when we were stacking in a line at the end, because just as I had her stacked perfectly the handler behind me started going nuts with a squeaky toy. And let me put it this way: Ashra goes CRAZY with squeaky toys (which is why I opted for the food and not the toy as bait), and she turned around and tried to take the toy off the handler (I quickly pulled her back in place, but she kept turning around and basically did not stand still for the end stack). I moved her forward to put some distance between us but then the handler in front of me swore at me, telling me to keep my damn distance from his dog.
The result: fourth place, graded excellent.
The grading was really encouraging and I learned a lot (even though Ashra took a step back), so I think going by the competition we might have a chance, if we can just remedy the attention span/squeaky reaction. I'm unsure of what to do re: the squeaky toy. If I desensitize her to it, it may effect her performance in a European style show. But at the same time, I've got to find a way to get her to keep focused.