My original plan for the Buckhorn Valley Kennel Club was to bring Ramen's two sisters, who ended up being in the midst of Heat Season at the registration deadline. Personally I think it's rude and risky to bring a bitch in season to events/activities for intact animals. So while our girls would be out by the show dates, they had not had any recent practice and weren't going to get any. The drive to breed is strong, which means the attention to other things is difficult for both genders. So I entered Ramen for the last weekend in October.
Of course Ramen's breed competition was one 8-month old female in high season. sigh.
Her handler warned me ahead of time and we kept them further apart than normal in the ring... but let's just say that Ramen liked her very much.
At almost 3-years old, Ramen has a good idea about the Heat Season now. It's fun watching him mature, but I do kind of miss my innocent "kindergartner." ;-)
The two split the Best of Breeds and Ramen was awarded Best Owner-Handled both days.
The judge on the second day violated ring procedure by asking which was the Owner-Handled dog prior to making her selections and the group judge was talking to the steward during our out-and-back. So while judges are humans and humans make mistakes, these things contribute to a common story in the sport... that judges award professional handlers, not dogs.
My position has always been that Professional Handlers are Professionals. They handle many different dogs, nearly every weekend. They are much more experienced so they should win more frequently.
I am not a professional dog handler. I am an Owner-Handler and a professional project manager. I enjoy working with and exhibiting my dogs and I am continually striving to do better.... but I do not exhibit multiple dogs, and I do not do it every weekend. So while I am much better than I was 4 years ago and I am a good handler, I am an amateur in the conformation ring.
It doesn't really bother me that the puppy defeated Ramen. She is a very nice dog with a great handler. It does bother me that the ring procedure was violated, which gives the impression that the handler was chosen, not the dog.
Overall, I'm happy with Ramen's performance He remained happy given the intense distraction and several other professionals (handlers and judges) mentioned how much they like his attitude, movement, and structure.