I had a stellar event last weekend. I went to New Jersey for my first United Kennel Club dog show. I’ve been competing with dogs for close to twenty years now. I’ve always gone to American Kennel Club events. I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the UKC recently. UKC dog shows level the playing field a bit. No professional handlers are allowed. To be honest, I was getting a little tired of taking my dog in the ring and finding I was the only non pro there. It’s a bit intimidating, to say the least.

The UKC shows have a reputation as being more casual, smaller, and, well, more fun. I thought I would give it a try. I took Orchid, my two year old chocolate Labrador for the two hour ride to the show. On arrival, I found the people very friendly and helpful. I needed a bit of guidance on protocol in the new environment. There are some significant differences between showing AKC and UKC. For instance, in AKC, my dog is in the sporting dog group. In UKC, it is called the gun dog group. Once I figured out where I needed to be, Orchid and I waited for our turn.

Things went well for us. We got Best of Breed, then Best in the gun dog group and then went into best in show competition. I knew the judge liked Orchid. Orchid has wonderful structure and effortless movement. She’s not exactly a dynamo in the ring; she is a low key kind of dog, so I figured that would not help her chances of winning the top award at the show. A lovely Borzoi was reserve Best in Show. Then, the judge turned to me and handed me the ribbon and awards for Best in Show. I was stunned. Still am. My little girl is a big winner. She got a ride home from the show and played in the creek. .