Monday, February 21, 2011


Are you beginning to think that your dog is always a “bride’s maid” and never a “bride” when it comes to her show wins? Is he/she always winning a reserve at the dog shows? I know of some really good dogs that have accumulated many of these reserve wins over the lifetime of their career before they’ve finished their championship title.

So just what does it mean to win a reserve at a point show? Your dog doesn’t win any points for all his and his handler’s expertise! On a positive note, if he wins a reserve at a major pointed show, then he will have helped contribute to his parent’s ROM (register of merit title).

I would like to see the AKC award a point to a Reserve Winners Dog that has won at a major specialty show but put a limitation on how many points that he can win this way. Many times the reserve winner’s dog is just as good as and maybe even better than the winner’s dog, but perhaps he didn’t show as well on this particular day. Maybe tomorrow he’ll be the winner’s dogs and the other dog will be the reserve winners. Different judge will see different things and maybe the dog is feeling better on this day and shows his little heart out.

Many people believe that a conformation show is a “beauty contest” for dogs. And perhaps in some ways it is if you didn’t count the importance of temperament and movement. I mean if we just judged the dogs on what they looked like, I can understand where some of these people are coming from. And if that were the case, then like in a beauty contest if the winner can’t live up to her expectations, than the second place winner (reserve) would take her win and her title. It’s not the same in a dog show.

So in some cases a reserve winner’s dog is little more than a brag for some people especially if it was received from a major pointed show. A dog that I bred many years ago (Am Select #3 BOS futurity Am & International Ch Chieftains’ Kharu CD) was the Reserve Winners Dog at the National Specialty show out in Arizona the year before he went Select. It was a huge show and I was so proud and excited that he achieved such a wonderful award, but it didn’t add any points towards his championship.

I searched and searched on the AKC website to give me some more information about the reserve win at a conformation show. I couldn’t find it. That doesn’t mean it’s not there, but “yours truly” just couldn’t find any information about this award outside of the fact that the second place dog in any class will compete for reserve winners if the winner’s dog came from his class. In other words if the Winner’s Dog came from the American Bred class, then the second place American Bred dog would go back in the ring to compete for the reserve win.

So why is there a reserve win to begin with? Just how important is it or is it important at all? Do you think that the AKC should award a point to a major winning reserve dog? How many reserve winners’ ribbons have you accumulated over the years of showing your dogs? Perhaps someone can enlighten me to the importance of the Reserve Winner’s Dog award besides ROM points for his parents if he won it at a major pointed show.

From the book: "NO CONTEST: THE CASE AGAINST COMPETITION"....Are you of the belief that my success depends upon your failure? Contending that competition in all areas school, family, sports and business destructive, and that success so achieved is at the expense of anothers' failure, Kohn, a correspondent for USA Today, advocates a restructuring of our institutions to replace competition with cooperation. He persuasively demonstrates how the ingrained American myth that competition is the only normal and desirable way of life from Little Leagues to the presidency counterproductive, personally and for the national economy, and how psychologically it poisons relationships, fosters anxiety and takes the fun out of work and play. He charges that competition is a learned phenomenon and denies that it builds character and self-esteem. Kohn's measures to encourage cooperation in lieu of competition include promoting noncompetitive games, eliminating scholastic grades and substitution of mutual security for national security.

My rating: Reserve Winners Award: (if achieved at a major pointed show) - (3 - 4)!

Friday, February 18, 2011


What are your feelings about puppies winning Winners Dog or Winners Bitch at a major pointed specialty show? How would it make you feel if your dog took a reserve to this puppy and your dog could have finished his championship that day with that win? Would you have felt robbed? Would you think that that was fair losing to a puppy?

Do you think that a puppy should go winners bitch at a show the size of a National Specialty show? Do you really think that an adult bitch can’t be found in all those entries that are better than the puppy? How would you feel if that same puppy went on to a Select title that very same year? You mean to tell me that with all those beautiful champions in the Best of breed competition at a National Specialty that a puppy should beat them for this special title? Do you consider it fair or are you of the belief that a puppy can fall apart as they have not had the time to fully mature yet?

I mean we all know that the winners from each of the classes will go back to compete for the Winners Bitch and Winners Male at these shows and that includes the winners from the puppy classes. But just think if you get to the National level with your top winning bitch or male and then he or she is beat by the winning puppy for a Select title. How would that make you feel?

If any of you reading this has had a puppy take major points at a Specialty show, you know the thrill and excitement that this brings to you. Many standing ringside are feeling the same thrill and excitement as you are and some are in downright disbelief. My very own BIM Ch Arbar’s Xanadu ROM took two five point majors from the puppy class and deserved to do so. She was a star right from the beginning. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it can be the thrill of a life time. I wonder how many of these puppies fall apart and never do finish their championships! Is it fair then to the older, more mature dog that was ready to take those points and has already realized his earlier potential?

The judge has to judge the quality of his winners on the day that he is judging them. He can’t think that the puppy may not fill the potential of what he is now. He can’t look to the future. He must judge them the day that they set foot in his ring.

Let’s face it, if truth be told, no one wants to lose to a puppy! Worst yet when you own a champion, you don’t want to lose the breed to a puppy. It happens. Not often, but it happens. Worst yet is if it happens from a puppy from the youngest of all classes…..the 6 – 9 puppy class!

So what do you think? Should puppies win the major points and should they be awarded a Select title at a National specialty show? Or are you of the belief like some that the puppy still has time to mature and because of this, the more mature dog that has realized his full potential should be the one that receives the points? Can you be happy for the person whose puppy just won it all? It takes a good sport to congratulate the owner of this puppy!

From the book: "HAPPINESS: UNLOCKING THE MYSTERIES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WEALTH"...."This book is absolutely a delight to read. [The authors] have made the science very accessible and practical. You will love the stories they weave into the text. The Dieners take us along on their adventures around the world. We tag along as they unlock the mysteries of happiness. As you read the book you come to understand why Diener is known as the ‘Jedi Master of Happiness’ and why Biswas-Diener has been called the ‘Indiana Jones of Psychology.’ Get the book, settle into a comfortable chair, buckle your seat belt, and enjoy the ride." (Positive Psychology News Daily)

My ratings: Puppies being awarded the major points at a dog show: (2 - 4)!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


What perfect timing that I should receive this DVD about Show Dogs when the Westminster Dog Show was on television this past Monday and Tuesday. I just watched it this morning and it was a delightful way to spend 61 minutes of my time! Show dogs, no matter which breed you favor are really different from your next door neighbor’s dogs. Or better put, it’s the people that own them that are really different from your other neighbors! Yup, we show dog people are unique among other folks that one might know. Can I say that we live and breathe dogs?

CAUTION – SHOW DOGS is a dogumentary that was orchestrated by Leslye Abbey. This is what the outside of the DVD case says. “Repeatedly throughout the year, at the many prestigious Dog Shows, hundreds of breeders from all over the country present the very best of “Man’s Best Friend.” While showing at these events, the dogs are evaluated alongside all the other competitors to eventually contend for the highly coveted top prize – BEST IN SHOW.

Behind the glamour and excitement lie endless hard work, enormous amounts of love and an all-consuming dedication difficult to imagine. Get to know four top breeders and their dogs and share the years of knowledge and experience required to produce consistent champions. CAUTION – SHOW DOGS puts you behind the scenes so you can feel the excitement and exhilaration of the big world of SHOW DOGS! It you love dogs and are just a wee bit curious about the intrigue and hoopla of Dog Shows, this is your movie!”

In easy to understand language, follow some breeders, handlers and judges as they take you along with them on their road to a dog show. I found the interviews with these people refreshing and enlightening especially for the novice person just getting into the world of show dogs. And even then for those of you that just simply love dogs, it’s an amusing way to get a little educated about the sport of showing dogs.

Some of the subjects they talk about are showing, handling, judging, agility, etc. They even touched a bit on politics and the show ring. You’ll see a German Shepherd breeder who has a lot of success breeding and showing her Australian Shepherds as well. She showed some pictures of her Australian Shepherds winning with Jimmy Moses as their handler. I have to admit for me, it was a little unusual seeing Jimmy with anything but a German Shepherd. Then too, there is a little interview with Alan Stone who was very well known in the breed for many years. Alan is no longer with us, but it was good hearing what he had to say once again.

Naturally this DVD is not just about German Shepherds, but anyone who is a show person in another breed goes through very similar things that we do with our breed. I loved hearing what some of those handlers from other breeds had to say and a couple of judges as well that talked about politics and some “tricks of the trade.”

Do pay attention even at the end when the credits are being shown because the camera will cut back to more comments from some of the people on this DVD. What was really interesting and amusing was what a professional handler had to say about a dog that was being shown. Apparently this dog had one testicle as a youngster and the breeder liked him so much that she wanted to show him. So doing the “unthinkable” she had a plastic surgeon “sculpt” him a second testicle! Yup, it’s done folks. I’ve heard of this one before even in our own breed! Well on this particular day in the show ring, it seems that the judge was spending too much time “back there” with the dog’s testicles. Finally, he shakes his head and says, “Geez, this dog’s got three testicles!” I laughed out loud. Apparently the owner never checked her dog any more after the testicle surgery. Seems like if she would have been a little more patient, she would have found out her dog “grew a new one” all by himself! The truth was out. She got caught!

I also loved the saying that seems to go around the show ring about show dogs. It goes something like this: “A good dog will win some of the time. A great dog will win most of the time!” Love it!

CAUTION – SHOW DOGS doesn’t take itself too seriously. Rather it shares information and stories about the show dog circuit and what it’s like to be part of it. One thing remains true throughout this movie. These people love what they’re doing and most of all they love the dogs that they’re sharing their lives with! All in all, a light, breezy and most of all entertaining little piece of “dogumentary.” In my opinion this is a great way to introduce the novice to the world of dogs and to show them that what we do is a lot of fun and to encourage them to get involved in the world of the show dog. Dog shows should be fun and this movie showed that indeed, it is!

My rating: CAUTION – SHOW DOGS: (4)!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Before I begin today's article, I wanted to let you know about the feed back that I received about the show dogs and whether or not they make good house dogs. About 95% of you told me that you keep your show dogs in the house with you and have no problem showing them and keeping a good attitude on them. A few people say that they alternate their show dogs from being a house dog and a kennel dog. Only one person told me that they keep their dogs out all the time. However, I had others tell me over the phone that they too keep their show dogs outside. So there you have it and thank you all for your comments.

Recently there was a conversation going on over on my list (The GSD Showcase) and it was about whether or not to bring our dogs inside when the temperatures drop down to the freezing mark. Someone wrote that he thought that we baby our dogs too much. So that got me to thinking about this a little bit more. Do we really baby our dogs too much?

Some people think it’s perfectly alright to keep their dogs out in temperaments that reach freezing and below as long as they have insulated dog houses and covered or protected dog runs. I never leave my dogs out in temperaments that are at the freezing mark or below. They go out and do their business and then they come back in again. My house dog can’t tolerate it very long either. She will hold her paws up off the ground because it bothers her. I don’t think that it’s because I baby them too much, but I don’t care how used to it they are, their ears still get frozen. I can see how they shake their heads when they come in. Sure they have an insulated coat with the undercoat that they carry, so it’s not their body skin that I’m concerned about……it’s their feet and their ears. We all do what we feel is best for our dogs.

Then I received a private e-mail saying that we make our dogs too soft rather than keeping them strong. What he said is that we “humanize” them too much. We forget that they are dogs and we try to make them like one of our kids. I think he was upset about reading how some people’s dogs sleep in the bed with them or lay around the house all day. He reminded me that this is a working/herding breed not a toy breed. He said that this is a breed of dog that was meant to be a tough breed that works and protects not a soft lazy breed that watches television with us all day. Hmmmm…….I wonder how many of us have the luxury of watching television all day?

He went on to say that we provide our dogs with designer this and designer that. I think he was disturbed about those who chose to use holistic dog food and treats. He said no wonder our dogs stomachs are the way that they are. They are too weak. If they were in the wild, they wouldn’t be eating designer foods and treats. They’re stomachs would be a heck of a lot stronger than they are. Forget about vitamins and coat supplements. He compared our dog’s coats with that of the wolf that has a gorgeous coat and he doesn’t receive vitamins and coat supplements! He lives outside and doesn’t sleep on a foam mattress either he reminded me!

He called today’s show dogs weak in body and mind and poorly bred for genetic health problems. He blamed breeders for the health problems in the breed. He said we soften the dogs temperament and that most of them couldn’t do a days work without collapsing from exhaustion! He said stop babying the German Shepherd Dog and bring back the true character of this breed.

I would venture to guess that most people will be offended by this writer’s remarks. Does he have any legitimate complaints? Do we baby our dogs too much? Have we bred dogs with too many genetic health problems? Have we softened up the temperament of the German Shepherd Dog in favor of sweeter, nicer nature dog?

I like living with my dogs and having them share in my life. I believe we all do what’s right for us and our dogs and our life style. I don’t want to toughen up my dogs too much especially living in a “sue happy” country. I want them to be able to protect me and my home, but I don’t want a raving maniac either. I want to be able to live with them and at the same time be able to depend on them. I want to enjoy them, and I can’t do that if they’re away from me outside all day long……..just to keep them tough!

If we spoil our dogs, it’s simply because we love them and they are very special to us. Yes I like to feed my dogs’ good food and yes I do add a supplement to their diets. Yes my house dog has special rugs and quilts for her comfort and warmth when she lies on the floor. Sure I buy them treats and bones to chew on. And yup, they have their toys lying all over the living room floor. But you know what; I don’t call that babying them too much. I call it loving them very much!

From the book: "A DOG'S PURPOSE"....Dog lovers will absolutely love this book. The author masterfully captures what many of us would imagine to be the thought processes of our dogs, and makes the reader think about the role we play in our pets' lives, for good and for bad. While the book has its uplifting moments, make sure to have some tissues nearby as there are many, many tearful moments in the story of this dog's numerous lives. Lest anyone think that this is yet another book in the growing dog channeling genre, rest assured that this book is much more than that. This is a book that will make you think not only about the purpose of a dog's life, but the purpose of life in general.

My rating: Babying and spoiling a dog: (4)!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So what do you think? Do you think that show dogs make good house dogs? Or are you of the belief that to keep a good attitude on the show dog, you need to keep him outside? Now I do know some people that live with their show dogs in the house, but most of those people only do this with their shows dogs that are retired and are no longer being shown.

I’ve had some breeders advise me not to keep a potential show dog in the house if I wanted to keep a good attitude on them. Many people also believe that keeping a show dog in the house makes them lazy and makes them put on weight because they are not outside in a dog run running back and forth.

I am of the belief that a good show dog is born with a certain type of attitude and personality. It along with the other attributes needed to show is what sets them apart from the rest of their litter mates. You can have a well structured dog that has no attitude and you will have to fight every step of the way to get him finished, if at all. On the other hand, you can have a lesser quality dog that has a great attitude and he’ll finish quicker. So yes, attitude for the show ring is very important for the German Shepherd Dog. This is especially true on the National and futurity levels.

Take a ball of energy and try living with it. Great for the show ring, but not necessarily for the house environment. My top show dog that I ever owned could never lie still in the house. My best bitch that I own now, never ever stops when she comes in and she’s in the house a lot more than the above mentioned bitch ever was. She doesn’t know what the words “lay down” means. The only time she does that is when she’s chewing on a bone and even with that, it’s not a very long time. She never walks from room to room. She’s always gaiting and is always turned on…..ideal for showing, but not for living with!

In my opinion these are the types of dogs that always need something to do. One of the most important things that they do need is lots of exercise to wear them out a little bit or to burn some of that high energy that they possess!

Show dogs that possess a lot of attitude are a dream come true for most exhibitors. Very little double handling is needed for this type of dog. Call them to get their attention and leave the rest to them. These are the performers in the show ring. The handler loves them, the judge loves them and the audience loves them. They are the crowd pleasers.

Living with them on the other hand is a whole other story all together. The problem with some of these dogs is they don’t know how to turn it off when they’re at home. My girl with the abundance of energy is always on display. I swear she wiggles her little butt as she prances from room to room. I kid you not. She has that twinkle in her eye and she knows she’s something special. These are the types of dogs that are always turned on even if you’re not looking for them to be so at that particular moment. They are born to show and they never let you forget it and age doesn’t slow them down.

So what do you think is a show dog a good house dog? Do you think that they know how to turn it off when they step outside of the show ring? Do you let your show dogs live in the house with you while you are showing them?

My rating: Show Dogs as house dogs: (1 - 4)!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Some people like to use a famous quote when talking about joining a breed club………it goes something like this: Ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club! Something along those lines.

Do you belong to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America or a local Specialty or All Breed club? Why did you decide to join? Oh I know the most popular reason is that we did it for the love of the breed. Would you love the breed any less if you didn’t belong to a club? I think not. Your love for the breed has nothing to do with whether you belong to a club or not. You’ll love the breed one way or another with or without membership in a club. So why is it that some people choose to join a dog club anyway?

Here are some reasons some people may choose to join a club.

EDUCATION: Where better place to learn than from other people that share the love of the German Shepherd Dog? At any given club there can be a wealth of information sitting among the membership on any given club meeting. Many people look forward to guest speakers, video presentations, book discussions on the breed, etc. This is a place to develop new skills and challenges and a place to learn new things like handling and showing a dog or preparing it for the obedience ring. This is the place that you will find breeders discussing bloodlines and their breeding programs. Wouldn’t you think that education should be one of the primary reasons for joining a breed club?

COMMITMENT TO A CAUSE: Whether you want to learn more about showing dogs or training dogs, one would think that belonging to a club would help you in these areas. This is where people come to vote on judges for conformation and obedience trials. You vote for those that you think will do the best job of choosing dogs according to the breed standard.

SENSE OF BELONGING: People join clubs because they want to feel that they fit in with other people of “like minds” and interests. They want to have a place where they are accepted and can voice their opinions and hear what others have to say about a certain topic. They feel they have a purpose when they belong to a club.

FRIENDSHIP: Many feel that belonging to a club means that they are liked and accepted. Belonging to a club brings people of all different backgrounds together that share the same interest and love for the German Shepherd Dog.

RECOGNITION: This is a place that acknowledges those for their hard work and dedication to the breed. This is a place that many feel that they get approval and respect from their peers. Everyone loves a pat on the back once in awhile for a job well done.

SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY: Belonging to a club, one senses that they can make things happen and influence decisions by having a certain amount of control about what goes on in their club and the breed.

FUN: Belonging to a club should be fun. It should not be all work and no play. Some clubs put on Holiday parties and award presentations at the end of the year. Others do summer picnics or get together at members homes.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Some people join a club to make a difference in their chosen hobby. These people enjoy being involved in their breed. They want to help promote the breed. They’re not content sitting back and letting others do all the work all the time. They jump right in knowing that nothing changes unless they are a part of that change.

On the other side of the coin, there are reasons people don’t join a club or leave a club after they’ve joined one.

LACK OF GOOD WILL AND CHEER: When a person no longer feels like they are appreciated or wanted, they leave. If they don’t feel like they “belong” sooner or later they won’t return. Whether they love the breed or not, people are foremost aware of how they are made to feel when they are around other people. If they are met with disdain and they feel like they don’t matter, it is the foolish man that returns to that type of environment.

LACK OF EDUCATION: If a club provides little more than a stale doughnut and watered down coffee once a month at their meetings, some people will wonder why they left the comforts of their homes.

SAME OLD, SAME OLD: If the same people are doing all the work all the time, after a while this becomes old and they may get tired of it and decide there are better ways of spending they time.

DUES, DUES AND MORE DUES: If you pay your dues every year and you get absolutely nothing for it, you may start to wonder why you’re throwing your money away. I don’t care how many times someone tells you that you are doing it for the love of the breed……… (If I cursed this is where I would do it)………..EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE SOMETHING FOR THEIR MONEY. This could mean a newsletter, magazine (on the Parent Club level), training classes, educational meetings, rescues, videos, etc. In other words, don’t just keep asking your members for their money and their time and they are left to wonder why????

I don’t think anyone should be made to feel guilty if they don’t feel like supporting a club or clubs that do nothing more than fight, point fingers, or that are of the belief “I’ve been in the breed longer, so therefore, I know more” attitudes. Having healthy discussions about the breed is, well……healthy and productive. Having a general disrespect for one another while proclaiming a love for a breed that is perhaps the most noble of all breeds is contradictory and counter productive.

We shouldn't hide behind this most wonderful of breeds and say that we're doing it all for the love of the German Shepherd Dog. Let the truth remain the truth and admit it’s more about some people’s egos needing to be stroked than anything else. Loving the German Shepherd Dog is about promoting HIM to be recognized as the greatest breed on earth. It’s about making the general public be aware of the many attributes of this breed. It’s about educating and putting the focus on the breed and not one’s self. Let the focus always remain on the German Shepherd Dog. This is what a good breed club does. It promotes, it educates and invites all who enter a rewarding experience for having owned and loved this breed. We should hope to be every bit as noble as the breed we choose to love.

From the book: "HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE" - From an era when 'self-help' books had genuine depth, Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" has influenced the world. No book in the self-help category matters more than this one.

Learning to relate to people in the ways Carnegie instructs will help you personally as well as professionally.

This book is a classic because Carnegie teaches timeless truths in timeless ways.

My rating: Belonging to breed clubs: (1 - 4)