All things come to an end. I’ve been showing dogs in conformation for over twenty years. I have made a lot of friends, learned a lot, and had some good times. I enjoyed taking my dogs in the ring. I took pride in their training as well as their beauty. I’ve held the leash of my share of champion Labradors. I bred a few of them and had the privilege of owning several I got from other breeders.
My first show dog was Ruby. She was the first of many things for me. She earned her championship as well as a number of titles in performance. I am closing out my career in the show ring with Orchid. Orchid was my third generation chocolate Labrador to become a champion. In my opinion, she is the best dog I have ever bred. I have had a small breeding program for years. My goal has been to put it all together: close to perfect structure, health, temperament, and trainability. Orchid does just that.
When I started showing, it was for something fun to do with my dog. It was and still is a social event for me. Spending time with other dog lovers is my idea of a good time. Over time, the nature of competition changed in the conformation ring. I found I was often the only non-pro in the ring. Labradors developed into a competition for professional handlers. While I still handled my own dogs at smaller shows, I needed to hire a handler to be competitive in the big leagues. Honestly, while I worked with amazing professionals, it took some of the fun out of the activity.
Thus, at this point in time, I am changing direction. My future competition will be primarily in performance events that the dogs and I enjoy, such as rally obedience and field work. Hey, there may be even more time these days to develop our canine agility skills or try a new venue like Nosework! The goal is to enjoy the time I spend with my dogs and do things that develop our relationship.