??????????????Orchid, my youngest Labrador, started her show career with a winning streak about eighteen months ago. She was winning puppy best of breeds along with puppy groups. That’s a big deal in dog show terms. Then, the wins went away. As she out grew puppy class, we struggled. Sometimes we’d lose to a more mature, better dog, and sometimes, well, I had my doubts, to put it mildly.

You see, Orchid, real name Canterbury’s Pink Orchid Diamond CGC, is my kind of dog. Her structure is pretty near perfect. Her breed type is outstanding. After all, she is the daughter of my Grand Champion, Fancy. There is nothing extreme about Orchid. She is athletic, graceful, and truly a picture of loveliness. She even has all her teeth in perfect alignment ( missing teeth is a common fault). So why was she losing? The truth is, I don’t know. Maybe she was immature, Maybe she was too thin (the Labrador show ring is renown for obese dogs). I just don’t get it.

The tide has started turning recently. She had a nice win not long ago. Then, last weekend, Orchid won reserve Winner’s Bitch in the conformation ring. After that class, it was her first time to compete in the rally obedience ring where she scored 99 out of 100 points and tied for first place in her class. I was bursting with pride over her performance. She was on her way to her first performance title with ease.

Most dog people do not compete in different venues. I like doing more than one thing. I like showing my dogs in the “beauty” class, then competing in the “intelligence” division. Orchid is also working in the field to do the work she was bred to do at hunt tests. I am so pleased with her progress. But her most important job is as my pet. We came home from the shows in time for a nice splash in the creek, then a nap on the couch.

Will Orchid continue to gain ground in the competition world? I hope so. After all, nobody competes with the goal to lose. But, no matter what, she is a lovely, sweet, confident dog that enjoys life. That’s how it should be.