Sportsmanship in the sport of dogs is a hot topic. Too often, people are left ringside confused, offended and unsure. This article is based on true events at a recent dog show. A call to action and a gentle reminder to be kind. Be good. Be nice.
The Poodle National; The Greatest (Poodle) Show on Earth!
I’m still coming down from the high that is the Poodle Club of America’s National Specialty. I got to spend a great week with friends and fellow poodle enthusiasts.
I ate a lot of junk food
I bought a ton of stuff
I didn’t sleep a wink
And I laughed with friends until I cried.
No Sleep ’til… Purina Farms!
The Poodle National is held at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, Missouri. If you haven’t already, and you ever get the chance, make a stop by this wonderful facility.
Remember when we were kids and our parents would tell us that our old dog went to live on a farm?
Well. Purina Farms is THE farm I imagine all our old dogs went to live. The property nestled in a quiet countryside with acres of land for dogs to run and play. The indoor event facility is packed with everything one would need to get their dog ready for any performance sport or conformation show.
And when Poodle Club of America shows up for our annual National Specialty?
ALL BETS ARE OFF.
PCA prides itself in setting a magical stage for the best breed national in the country.
The best? You say?
Oh… I say!
Poodle Club of America even has a trophy and official title to prove it. PCA puts on the best breed national specialty in the country!
Live flower gardens are brought in to transform the conformation ring into a lovely summer park. I noticed many a dog in the ring, stopping to, literally, smell the flowers while they waited their turn for the judge’s exam.
We even have our own green floor with extra cushion and great traction. The floor adds to the wonderland look of the rings.
On the whole, I spent the vast majority of my time inside the Purina Farms facility. And walking into that space, decorated bright and happy, with clear love for the poodle breed demonstrated everywhere I turned… I wasn’t regretting my lack of sleep. I was just happy to be soaking in all the grandeur.
Sitting ringside; my impressions
PCA week isn’t just fun and games for me… I mean…mostly it is fun and games… but there are some serious parts, too.
I made a point to sit ringside during most of the conformation show days. I studied the standards ring with a sharp eye, looking and learning as each standard poodle moved along in the ring.
My handy show catalog, which lists all the poodles entered in the show, got a lot of use through out the week. Any time I saw a dog that caught my eye, I would look it up in my catalog. I marked down a few prospects for breeding and made notes to study their pedigrees.
Sitting ringside also gave me a strong sense of my own preferences when it came to “type.” And by the word, type, I mean; style of poodle… the look, the movement, the attitude… everything that fits together to create the ideal poodle, that is all lumped together in a word… TYPE.
Observing the masters
I did a lot of learning observing the beautifully coiffed poodles as I sat ringside. But equally as valuable was my time in the grooming space. My friend, and Pali’s handler, worked tirelessly through the week. Allison ran her grooming set-up like the captain of a ship. She effortlessly guided folks through the care and styling of their poodles before taking the dogs into the ring.
Allison was a wealth of knowledge and shared her knowledge openly with everyone in her set-up.
I have a great amount of respect for my friend. And watching her go to work on Pali before heading into the ring was truly watching a master at her craft.
Oh yeah. And Allison had cookies and candy at her set up the whole week.
Guys. I’m talking literal bucketsbuckets of candy. Just sitting around on the grooming tables. For everyone to eat!
I took full advantage of the candy. Believe you me!
Perhaps the best kept secret of PCA week is the cupcakes.
YES! The cupcakes!
I have no idea where they come from or how they get there. But at the end of each conformation show day, boxes and boxes of truly decadent and delicious cupcakes arrive at ringside.
These aren’t your typical grocery store cupcakes. These little cakes are mouth watering bits of art. They came in a myriad of flavors…. vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, red velvet cake, almond-something-or-other, yellow cake (it’s a flavor in my book!)… with decorative frosting and bobbles also in a multitude of flavors.
I do not feel an ounce of guilt when I tell you that the cupcakes were absolutely a top three favorite reason for going to PCA.
I am inspired for the poodle year to come.
My week at PCA feels a bit like a blur. My mind is overloaded with information about all things poodle. And I’m still not fully recovered from the lack of sleep (or laughing- thanks, Tawnya!).
But I can say for sure; I am so inspired for the upcoming year.
I love this poodle breed. I get a bit prideful when I think about what a magnificent club we have to protect the legacy of the poodle dog. And I feel very strongly about doing my part in making sure this dignified, versatile and longstanding breed is represented to its fullest potential.
Until next year, poodle on, my poodle friends!
Curious how dogs get from Alaska to… well… anywhere else in the world? Click on this blog entry to learn all about air travel with dogs!
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