I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen Toy and Utility breed day to visit Manchester Dog Show. (I kind of got there by default, but that’s another story). However, having arrived there I actually really enjoyed an afternoon of wandering with my camera and chatting to lots of lovely people about their dogs. We see a lot of different breeds at the Fun Dog Show, but some of these were new to me.
It always fascinates me how much effort goes into making these dogs look amazing. Having working spaniels, I don’t really think much about that side of it: they get hosed down in the garden if particularly muddy. But I was amazed to discover that it takes about four hours to bath a standard poodle. And that’s without all the fancy trimming bits at the end!
Speaking of standard poodles, I did find myself spending a very long time in that part of the show. There is something very regal about these dogs. I think sometimes they have a bit of a wussy reputation: but actually there is nothing wussy about the breed at all.
Originally bred as hunting dogs, their (slightly odd) hairstyles came about because while they are naturally quite lean dogs, the areas of thicker fur gave added protection to the major organs such as the kidneys, lungs, heart, brain etc. Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it! Of course this has evolved over the years, but that’s how it started.
They move beautifully and are said to be among the most intelligent breeds. I surprised myself and really enjoyed watching them anyway.
The lhasa apso (yes I did have to spell check!) must take a lot of grooming too. I wonder if the judges did check for legs on these little dogs – I didn’t see any! The chihuahuas were adorable, standard schnauzers characterful, Italin greyhounds incredibly graceful, and I can’t even remember the breeds of some of the others I met.
It was all very serious, and for me personally I prefer the total frivolity of the fun dog shows I work with through the summer season, where some of our most honest juges are under ten, and you just know the ‘Fastest Bonio Eating Class’ is going to be won by a labrador.
But each to his own and whichever sort of show it is; big and serious, where you prepare your dog with serious pampering for days and aim for that coveted ‘ticket’; or small and silly where you can openly bribe the judge with a pint of beer and might win a red rosette if your dog has the waggiest tail…
Whatever happens at the end of it, whatever the judge says, you always take the best dog home.