Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another show weekend

Tomorrow I'll leave for a 2 day show in Asheville, NC. It's one of my favorite show spots because I love the mountains and it's generally cooler there. Plus, Asheville is a neat, artsy town with lots of unique shops. I'm taking Tobias, hoping to snag one of those elusive major wins, and Izzy who will be in her very first show.

I spent some time tonight talking about showing to someone who is wanting to begin showing. I tried to explain the vagaries and many variables that occur at dog shows. Unlike performance events where one has points deducted for imperfect performances, conformation showing is the essence of subjectivity. It is that judge's opinion on that given day. Some judges are better at knowing the Labrador than others. It is also an expensive sport, with thousands of dollars spent on making up a champion. Some never make the grade and yet they are wonderful examples of the breed, while others get the title but are poor examples of the breed. It's all very confusing to someone who is wanting to do this.

Another thing that people who are new to the whole show game expect is to have that Best in Specialty winner right away. That's like winning the lottery--well, maybe the odds are worse for the lottery, but you get my point. It isn't easy. There is no sure bet in this. Yet, I'm often asked about guarantees. Can you really guarantee much of anything when it comes to a living creature? We do guarantee the dogs that have their OFA clearances because we know what their phenotype is. That doesn't mean that they will never produce a problem. We don't guarantee puppies because there are environmental affects as well as genetic factors that can influence what happens with puppies. The important and major orthopedic problems are the result of polygenic traits and not the simply autosomal recessive traits that produced Mendel's peas.

If you're one of the fortunate ones who is able to breed or buy a spectacular dog or bitch who wins a specialty and gets it's Ch. at 15 months and passes all clearances, there is still no guarantee that it will reproduce itself or better. It's spinning the roulette wheel with no idea as to whether you are going to hit the jackpot or just go bust.

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