S'Dandi Shih Tzu
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2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
ďApril 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

The article, ďA Sporting Chance,Ē in the December issue, prompted me to respond. It stated that newcomers to the sport of dogs, who want to handle their own animals, are not competitive in the ring. As with any area of competition, showing and winning with your dog takes time, practice, skill and luck. Added to that is the problem of showing a long-coated breed that takes great expertise in coat care and preparation for the ring. Winning doesnít happen overnight. However, it can be done with diligence, perseverance, commitment and the desire to succeed against all obstacles. Showing is not for the person that wants instant gratification. Champions happen because one has learned to choose the almost perfect dog and then, managed to groom, topknot, and present the animal to its best. That also includes presenting oneself like a professional and not like an amateur.

As in all walks of life, unkind, selfish people exist. The dog sport is no exception, but there are also many wonderful, helpful exhibitors who give of their friendship and knowledge to those willing to learn. The bonus in our sport is the opportunity to meet new friends.

There is that old saying, ďYou have to pay your dues.Ē I didnít like it when I first started either. So, I watched, listened, and learned something new each time I walked into the ring. Combined with the true desire to finish my own dogs and the determination not to give up, we now have 5 champions, 4 of which were bred at home. I began showing only 8 years ago. Iím proud of the accomplishments made in that length of time even though my first showgirl was the ďReserve QueenĒ with 12 single points. It can be done and I am living proof that owner/handlers can and do finish their own dogs in spite of the professionals.

Sally Watkeys
SíDandi Shih Tzu
Traverse City, MI"

The above letter was written to the AKC Gazzette in response to an article in their December issue.

When I read or hear negative comments from new exhibitors who donít stay in the ring long enough to learn the ropes, it makes me sad. Any competitive sport takes years to master. Showing dogs is no exception. One doesnít learn to show with finesse, groom like the professionals, and train the dog properly in just a year or so. Those attributes are cultivated only by learning, watching, applying, and doing them on a regular basis. That doesnít mean once every other month. It means practicing them daily, classes weekly, shows often. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I have two grandchildren in gymnastics. They have been training for several years moving up the ranks in their gym. It hasnít been an easy commitment for them or their parents. It has meant daily practices and training sessions, open gym every Saturday all year long and many missed meals, family outings and overnights at Grammaís house. Is it worth it? It depends on the goals one sets for oneself and the determination to achieve those goals. For these young girls, the awards they have received on state and national levels have been worth the sacrifices made to achieve them. They are happy with their progress and the results. Did this happen overnight, in a year or two? Absolutely not! It has been an ongoing process of learning, watching, training, doing and competing to accomplish their wins. It is no different in any sport-case in mind-dog shows.

Is it political? Probably, to some extent. The more you compete, the more familiar you are to the judges involved. The more visible you become, the more chances you have at winning. It goes hand-in-hand. Is it fair? Who decides, the exhibitor? Not hardly! The judges make the decisions. How many afternoons have we watched the nationally televised sport games viewing the referees making terrible calls? We sit in front of the tube yelling at the refs. It doesnít change anything. The calls usually remain as called and the game proceeds. And, so, with the dog shows. The judge makes his/her choice, and we have to live with it.

I guess itís how you live with the decisions that makes you a better or worse exhibitor. Iíll be the first to say I havenít always been happy with the choice of winners dog or bitch. However, when the choices have been for other dogs, I have become even more determined to be competitive. Itís just in my nature, I guess. Tell me I canít do it, and Iíll show you I can!!! It may not be with that specific entry, but learn, I will, and win I willÖsomeday.

Someday has happened. It was a dream at first. Now, it is a reality. We donít win every time we walk in the ring, but it is becoming more and more often. We have become more competitive by just doing it.

How badly do you want to win? How important is a championship you have earned yourself? Itís your decision to make. Just donít blame everyone else if it doesnít happen for you because you havenít been willing to make the sacrifice.

Itís been worth the effort for me. Iíve finished the champions, met the new friends, learned the ropes and traveled to other parts of the country. Where else can an amateur compete with the professionals and come away a winner?!!!!
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