Showing Your Lancashire Heeler
Over the years I have shown all kinds of animals from ducks, turkeys, angora rabbits, sheep, bulls, cows and horses, Many people recently have asked me what to do for a dog show so here's a rough guide. It all starts with a dog/bitch and a mad idea of...
Why not show my Lancashire Heeler?!
Firstly it's always a good idea to have a word with your breeder who should be both delighted and helpful (or mystified!) as to why you should have these thoughts about the pup they have just sold you. Either way your mind is made up.
Best idea is to find a local ringcraft club which holds classes - normally once a week. Just go and watch all the different ways of showing each breed, they all have different methods of being shown, or find a local dog show. There are details on this site and the Kennel Club and dog papers have details. Watch the people and dogs being shown in the rings. With the Heeler it goes on the table for an examination and, obviously, on the floor for movement. So, encouragement for your little monster to stand still on a table/kitchen surface etc, is the first step!
Training for the examination
Go over your heeler with your hands, moving its feet gently, yet keeping it standing, patience is a virtue. This is not done in one go and sometimes food as a bribe will help takes youngsters' mind off the fact that mad mum or dad have them up on the table in the first place. This is also when you can check the front teeth, with a gentle parting of the front lips from above (one hand) and from below (other hand). I always use the Command 'teeth" so they don't consider, when the time comes, some maniac who they don't know, is grabbing bits of them especially as some judges feel the need to check teeth themselves.
All youngsters and adults should enjoy being shown, so fun and pleasure must be given to encourage the least amount of stress. Use only short periods of training, its about getting it right, not keep on getting it right which then becomes boring.
Training on a loose lead is your next task, all the while talking to your Heeler to give confidence (and I mean talking, not shouting or sharp words!); just a quite conversation stating how good and clever they are. The more encouragement you give the calmer and completely normal this strange pastime will feel to your Heeler.
The next step is to get your little darling to stand on a loose lead, this normally takes bait, which is a job in itself. Try beef, chicken, turkey, liver, kidney, lung, tongue, sausage, cooked, dried whatever your little sweetheart will take a small amount of and still have a look of wanting more. I personally don't feed the dogs showing the night before a show as it helps with travelling and keenness at shows for bait.
Entering a show
So everything is ready to enter your first show, a companion/open/championship. For the companion show just go on the day and enjoy the outing. With the Open show you have to enter about a month in advance, no details are sent back to you so you turn up on the day, checking to see if you are first in the ring ie 10am judging means minor puppy class 10am in the ring for the first breed if that's Heelers you should be ready and waiting by the ring side at 9.55am
At Championship shows you enter normally 2 months in advance, average fee being £27 per dog. A typical Open show would be about £4 for your first dog, maybe less for additional dogs. Companion shows are about £1.
So you can see the serious side of Championship shows. If no C.C (Challenge Certificates) are on offer the fee is still around £12 which is a fair amount. To make your little darling into a Champion you need three C.Cs from 3 different judges.
If you have obtained a paper schedule you will find an entry form inside it although you can now enter on line for a number of shows (see links opposite for websites offering that facility). Whichever method you use you need to fill out details correctly as awards can be removed by the Kennel Club if details are incorrect. Details of most importance are correct owners, with signatures to match, registered name of darling, e.g. not Dotty but Stourmere Snap Shot! The date of birth and both dad's and mum's (use your registration certificate for reference). The rest of the details such as which classes you wish to enter and whatever else you need to order and pay for i.e. car parking ticket.
For Open and Championship shows you will normally have a list of which breed is first in the ring. This will decide whether you have an early start or a very early start for a journey plus parking time - remembering a lot of other people will be doing exactly the same! At Open shows you only get your ring number in the show ring - that's after you have parked your car, found the table giving out the catalogues, (best to order it when entering), found you ring and checked your details are correct. Remember, even if there are entries in your class before yours they could be absent. So, your precious little darling needs, before being shown, a little stress free walk to loosen up and to get used to the mad idea that you had ages ago.
Be sensible, just because you are at a dog show doesn't mean all the dogs/puppies there are friendly and it will only take one silly incident to happen for your Heeler to say never again.
For Championship shows you are sent passes to get in and out of the showground, plus other stuff such as a list of judging etc. Obviously, at Champ shows you are expected to bench your dogs. This will be in a large tent with all your breed together. Your number for the ring and bench is at the back of the bench. Sometimes you will find the tent is on one side of the showground and your ring is the other so it may be that being closer to your ring (using a crate etc. in the nearby grooming area) would be safer for not missing your class. If, when you arrive at the Champ show, you are by yourself, go into the showground first with something like your crate etc, get your catalogue, note which tent your number/breed are in, collect your ring number only from your bench, find your ring and work out an estimate of when you should be in. Dogs are judged before bitches. Go back to the car, get your Heeler and decide whether to bench or go straight to the ring. The steward in the ring will not wait once they have called out a class.
So you have made the show, have smart clean sensible clothes, a little bait bag or pockets to take bait and a ring clip for your number. As for your little cherub - he has had a little bath 2 to 3 days before the show (any later and the coat will be fluffy). You have tidied up nails and have the thinnest collar and lead for showing. This should now be ready to go on. I use a thin black leather half choke with brass fittings. You can also get some lovely black nylon half chokes with chrome fittings with leads to match. These collars and leads are for the ring only as they might not be strong enough for everyday wear and tear.
Into the ring
Your Class is called, you are in the ring - panic not!
Don't go first in the line up of people unless the steward wants you in number order, go midway. Normally the whole line stands with their dogs in a stand position for the judge to walk down just to have their first look at the dogs. Remember to talk to your little darling offering a little bait, this is a start. Normally the judge will ask for you all to go around the ring once or twice, so follow the person in front of you (but not too close), watching your Heeler and matching their trotting pace. Remember it the dog not you the judge wants to see move!
Watch exactly what the person in front of you does he places his dog on the table, putting it on the ground. The judge asks for a triangle and he walks in a triangle from the front of the judge. The judge says straight up and back he does exactly that: a straight line up the ring and back to the judge. He then stands his Heeler in front of the judge, not too close just about six feet away.
Then comes a trot away from the judge back to his place behind the person who went before him.
Your turn! Remember, talk to your dog. You are not supposed to say much to the judge other than to answer any question, that may be asked. Usually a judge will ask how old your dog is for example. Enjoy the experience! You have paid for this judges opinion so show them your little friend., Never get between the judge and your dog. Watch the judge with one eye, with the other watch your Heeler! Also remember as soon as you have finished your individual bit, congratulate your little sweetheart and relax. Try relaxing a little bit in the ring especially if there are several dogs. Make a mental note which person was last in the line up, so that when they have finished individual show bit and joined the end of the line again you should start standing your dog again making sure you have enough space to do so properly. The judge will look down the line again and sometimes they might pull out a dog or two to move across the ring again, normally they just pick out the 1st. 2nd 3rd places etc. It's not over until the steward calls out the places, some judge's delight in swapping places in the line up. If you are lucky enough to get 1st or 2nd the judge will want to do a write up of your dog there and then so you need to carry on standing your Heeler for them. Then. imagine you were placed 1st or 2nd don't run away because you and all the 1st placed dogs/bitches compete at the end of judging for each sex.
So you have just won 1st junior bitch (schedules have details of the meaning of each class), you know wait until all the bitches have been judged, the steward will call out "all unbeaten bitches" which is you.
Back in the ring you will now be standing in the order of the classes, the steward will show you your space. Yet again, you stand your girlie, move as asked by the judge. The first person the judge hands out a card/rosette to is the best bitch then a second is picked out as reserve. This is where, if you were 2nd in the junior class, the judge might ask for the 2nd placed bitch to come in and challenge the other 1st placed bitches for the reserve place. Only the best bitch and the reserve stays in the ring to trot around for everyone to see, then the best puppy is picked out from the winners of the puppy classes. This is unless a puppy was already picked as best bitch.
If you are lucky enough to have won best bitch, the same will happened in the dog classes, so there is a best dog waiting in the wings. This is the challenge of the sexes - best dog against best bitch. The winner becomes under the judges choice the Best of Breed. In a large entry breed where there is over 200dogs/bitches entered, two judges judge the different sexes producing a best dog and a best bitch sometimes with neither judge prepared to back down on their choice! In those instances a referee has to decide. Normally the Best in Show or Group Judge will do this.
Well done! Best of Breed!
So you won BOB, remember to thank the judge and anyone else. Next step, you then go on to represent your breed (Heeler) in the Pastoral group. Same as before only you have every BOB of each breed in the Pastoral group to compete against. Win this and your little Heeler is a Group winner. So, last step, all group winners ie Gundog, Utility, Working, Terrier, Hounds, Toy, and Pastoral go against each other to be the only Best in Show with a Reserve BIS, Which basically states the BIS has beaten every single dog/bitch at the show. Marvellous, even the most seasoned exhibitors get goose bumps at that stage.
Best of all
In all of this your little Heeler is the same little monster you have always loved and cherished whatever happens in the show ring - or not!.... which means you will always have, and take home, the best Heeler - because its yours!
Enjoy your time at the show ring.
Tracy St Clair Pearce