Name: Western Classic Dog Show
Venue: Dogs West Show grounds, Western Australia
I have been to dog shows before and have worked at Crufts Dog Show as a veterinary nurse but the Western Classic Dog Show had to be the most enjoyable show I have ever been to.
Since meeting certain people in Australia, my imagination has taken on a whole new level and I freely admit to blaming Lexie, Denise Pringle, the Italian Greyhound Club of Western Australia, Fran in QLD with the QLD Iggies, and all the other doggy people that I hang around with and count as friends.
Denise and Pippin – the influence to my imagination aside from Lexie
I did not know what to expect with this show but one thing that took me by surprise, well actually grabbed me by the arse I should say and that is how well all of the dogs were conversing and how much I was privy to overhear.
I held Pippin while Denise took the crate from the car and loaded it up and then we made our way to where we would be setting up our stuff.
Time for a selfie with me and Pippin!
It was a beautiful setting and there is something quite luxurious about going to a dog show that happens in the evening in an outside setting.
The cool temperature, the flood lighting which enables you to get good photography and there is no heat of the day to make it uncomfortable either.
Dogs trotted confidently up and down on the grass, the smell of perfumed grooming products filled the air, owners dressed in suits ready to show their dogs, dogs being wheeled by in their crates and the sounds of dogs barking to let everyone know that they were ready to do their best and that they had ‘arrived’.
Team Jeni Headquarters
We were to be placed in the same area as Jeni and her dogs, which was rather nice as I struck up a bit of a ‘thing’ with Dickens the white poodle who won me over with an accent just like ‘Manu from My Kitchen Rules’ (I have heard it is a fake French accent but I am not sure as it sounds pretty good).
‘Bonjour mon petite rosebud, ‘ow are you on zees wonderful evening’ Dickens asked me. He smelt of expensive aftershave and French cigarettes.
‘I am very well thank you’ I smiled politely.
‘I want to lick your neck, can I lick your neck, I do like a bit of neck before I go in to the show ring’ Dickens said in his smooth French accent.
‘Oh if you must’ I replied and before I knew it, Dickens was washing my neck and wafting his expensive aftershave in my face and asking for my mobile number.
Next to Dickens was a large black Afghan hound sitting on the table while Jeni preened and groomed him ready for his show.
Wearing flared trousers, and looking like a suave and sophisticated 70’s kid, you could almost envisage him listening to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and doing a fabulous dance-off with John Travolta or something.
‘The name is Logan, how are you?’ He said politely and then as if bored by the whole situation; he didn’t wait for an answer and rested his head on his paws and went back to sleep while his Mum continued to groom him.
Also in Jeni’s section was a very handsome Italian greyhound called ‘Sting’ with genitals bigger than Brutus, actually Brutus would have severe genital-envy as this boy would make any boy-dog jealous.
Sting sat in his crate with a pink blanket and each time a dog walked by, he would growl, bark, attack his blanket and call it a ‘bastard’ and had I not seen it for myself, I would never have believed it.
‘What are you looking at ugly face? I shall kill you!’ Sting yelled at a pug and then promptly attacked his pink blanket and shook the life out of it until it had ‘died’.
‘Bastard, I hate you, you looked at me funny, you are nothing but a blanket to me and you will never take the place of my dear mother!’ Sting growled as he frantically shook his blanket and murdered it in between calling it rude names.
As a group of pugs walked by, Sting yelled at them for having no snouts. The pugs looked angry and flashed their pug bottoms at Sting causing him to kill his blanket again which made the pugs laugh at him and call him a ‘girl’.
Sometimes in life it is not always what you see that makes it interesting but often what you overhear and my goodness I overheard stuff at this show that was said by the dogs in fact I had no idea that dogs could be so gossipy.
My head was buzzing because in my true ‘Dr Doolittle’ style, I could hear hundreds of canine voices all trying to talk over one another and there was no way of shutting them out either.
‘I think the judge may have been blind, I mean she walked like a donkey’ A female voice barked from her crate.
‘Well did you see the size of her belly, she has had far too much dog chow’ another voice growled.
‘That collar was SO last year, hasn’t she heard about Dee Cole’s Canine Company collars – they do ‘Fifty Shades’ collars you know, my Mum is buying me one’ said another dog.
Honestly, it was like the back of a catwalk show with the female dogs all discussing normal stuff like weight, appearance, ability or inability to walk, who had the latest collars, eating disorders and who was who in the dog world.
A Maltese with neatly trimmed furnishings (Lexie the dog groomer taught me that word), glided past as though she were on an electric rail.
‘Do you like my furniture?’ She asked passers by.
‘Don’t you mean FURNISHINGS darling!’ a Chinese crested giggled to her friends causing the Maltese to blush at such a public faux pas.
‘Do my thighs look chunky?’ a greyhound asked me as she walked past. Telling her that no, they didn’t look chunky at all, the greyhound smiled gratefully and then stared longingly at a little boy who was eating a sausage roll.
Talking of food, it was hungry work taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the dog show and I was already thinking about what to eat so Denise had very kindly bought me some hot chips and a can of energy drink to keep me going for the evening.
As I settled into my chair, I clutched my can and balanced my chips on my lap ready to replenish some energy; when I became aware that someone was staring at me.
‘I would like one of those chips, do they have salt on them?’ a beautiful keeshond asked me.
Then catching its owner looking, the keeshond suddenly said in serious voice ‘Are we showing yet?’
When the owner looked away, the keeshond glared at me and willed those hot chips almost to its mouth ‘Please give me some hot chips, I love hot chips’ and then pretended to admire the fluffy bits on a gang of Chinese crested whenever its owner looked in our direction.
I carried on eating my chips and tried to ignore the keeshond that was pleading with me to part with my hot chips but let me tell you it was no easy task as those eyes could have melted the contents of my entire freezer.
‘Pippin, do you think you might win your class?’ Bronte asked her brother who was standing around taking in the scenery but inwardly was terrified, as he always got scared before a show.
‘I don’t know but please don’t keep on about it Bronte, I have enough to worry about.
‘The other dogs are talking about next weeks lure coursing already and I haven’t even got that organized’ Pippin sighed fretfully.
But there was no time for Pippin to fret any further as Denise wanted to take him to Dee’s stall – purely for a ‘look’ at the collars you understand.
*Please note that Denise is totally incapable of ‘just a look’ when it comes to buying doggy stuff and more to the point, she has got me at it too as I have earmarked a very nice Hells Angels cap for my Brutus*
Despite Pippin having a collar and leash collection to rival that of a rich girls wardrobe, he still came away with a collar somewhat resembling something out of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ only we called it ‘Fifty Shades of Pippin’.
Actually I saw one in purple and gold with leather lining for Brutus to give him the ‘Hugh Hefner’ look but didn’t have the cash to get it, which is as well as my husband would have disowned us all and blamed Dee Cole for her influence. We won’t tell my husband that I am in discussions with Dee as I type; for a bespoke collar for my Brutus, we shall keep that all to ourselves.
‘Does it suit me do you think?’ Pippin asked me, as he looked very self-conscious and more than a little proud.
‘You look very sexy, all the bitches will want you’ I reassured him.
‘He doesn’t want the girls, Pippin only likes boys’ Bronte giggled and then covered her mouth with her slender paw to hide the comment that slipped from her mouth because she had embarrassed her brother.
‘I think it suits you’ Dee’s rather handsome ridgeback barked giving an approving nod in Pippin’s direction.
Wearing what had now been officially termed his ‘Fifty Shades of Pippin’ collar, Pippin was proudly taken around the show grounds and his collar was admired by many and not just by the female dogs either.
‘Hello sweet thing’ A very camp Afghan said to Pippin, ‘Would you like to come to my kennel one day, loving the collar darling’ He shouted to Pip who was now more than a bit mortified and hid behind Denise as he was not used to big dogs fancying him.
Team Kim and Ian
I had decided to catch up with the lovely Kim and Ian Cross with their Afghan Eugene and Archie their Azawakh.
Eugene the Afghan was standing outside the ring being preened ready to go in. It is quite common for Afghans to wear 1970’s flared trousers, and dance across the show ring like John Travolta out of Saturday Night Fever. Basically they are 70’s children and bring an air of glamour to the scene that makes you stop and stare whether you want to or not.
If you don’t believe me, when you go to the next dog show, seek out the Afghans and start singing ‘Night Fever’ and watch those Afghans start wriggling their Afghan hips and waving their feathers and stuff and clicking their paws because these dogs are just born to dance.
‘Excuse me, but is my saddle fully plucked?’ Eugene demanded to his Mum Kim who was busy chatting to me.
‘I said is my saddle fully plucked?’ Eugene repeated as he did not like being ignored.
‘Looks OK to me mate’ a blonde Afghan shouted as it was trotted up and down in the ring and gave the thumbs up.
‘Thank you very much’ Eugene smiled politely at the blonde Afghan that looked like something out of a shampoo advert.
Archie the Azawakh was laughing with some other Azawakh’s at the side of the ring. Although still a puppy really, he looked like a giant with his long legs like a gazelle and slender brindle and white body with not an ounce of fat on him.
‘Is it time to play yet?’ Archie cried to Kim.
‘Shhh! Eugene is showing’ Kim whispered to him and beckoned for him to be quiet.
‘Nice saddle Eugene!’ Archie yelled to his brother.
Grinning at Archie, Eugene shouted back ‘You are just jealous, you can’t beat a nice saddle!’ which caused Logan to bark with laughter.
It was true as well, the Afghan coat is something to be admired and according to Eugene, hairdressers from all over the Universe seek to do hairstyles like a well-groomed Afghan. I am almost tempted myself to walk into my local salon and say ‘Can you give me the Afghan look please’ and then allow her to pluck my saddle and give me a good set of furnishings.
The sheer elegance of a dog and handler working together
It’s a beagle thing
It is no secret of the fact that I love beagles, I love their soft velvet mouths, their ears, their facial expressions and their ability to look super innocent while being super naughty at the same time.
As Kim was showing me around the grounds, we had stopped to admire the beagles as it would have been positively rude not to admire them when they were so cute.
The beagles were standing in the show ring looking perfect in their pose but still with an obvious look on their faces that there was food somewhere in the vicinity somewhere and it had their name on it.
These beagles looked like something out of a science fiction film where one cute beagle had been cloned several times in a bid for world and food domination.
The Beagles – don’t be fooled by their dignity, they just want your food
‘I can smell something like sausage, I really ought to go off and investigate’ said one beagle who was waiting for his turn to be judged.
‘Five more minutes and you can snout out the sausage’ the beagle next to him barked.
Several beagles in a crate were trying to bite the bars to get out. A rumour had been circulated that there were hot chips, sausages and everything that a beagle would love. Not to mention deliciously interesting scents around the grounds that would make for a good ‘snouting’ session.
‘You chew the bars and I will pretend to have diarrhea to cause a distraction’ a beagle whispered to his friends as another beagle bit on the bars of the crate in a bid to get out.
Causing a distraction!
On hearing sounds of baying/howling, Kim and I turned to see a solitary beagle in his crate being wheeled across the grass while singing the song of his people and baying his head off.
‘Save your family, there is going to be a famine unless that sausage finds its way into my mouth right now!’
The owner ignored his cries and carried on wheeling him across the grass while he continued to shout for help.
‘Bring me here, bring me there and bring me back!’ he shouted in a deep voice.
‘Excuse me lady, I haven’t been fed in twenty years and unless you let me out, the whole world is going to end’ sobbed the beagle and then continued to howl to anyone that would listen and anyone that wouldn’t.
‘Famine! Famine I tell you!’ his cries could be heard across the grounds until he was wheeled past a group of whippets who giggled at such dramatics and called him a ‘big girls blouse’ for all the noise that he was creating.
Meanwhile the beagle clones in the show ring maintained their dignity while the beagle in the crate continued to do the song of his people.
But please don’t think that the beagle clones never picked up that scent of the sausage just because they didn’t portray any emotion, because if you looked carefully, you would have seen their noses twitching in a way that would rival that of military radar picking up the enemy.
Kim had kindly offered to take me to see the poodles and I will admit that going in to this area was like stepping in to another world entirely.
The glamorous and fabulous world of poodle (and lots of hard work)
The scent of expensive grooming sprays filled my nostrils while my eyes were met with the sight of impeccably groomed poodles being prepared to go in to the show ring.
I saw the most stunningly beautiful dogs that could be comparable to any work of art – it really was dog showing in another dimension.
White poodles and black poodles all wearing the finest of collars and leashes; sat either in their crates, or lay on grooming tables as they were in various stages of being perfected. Their owners were oblivious to everything around them except for doing the last minute finishing touches to their coats.
I overheard one lady saying how many hours she had spent working on her poodle and I didn’t doubt it either because the time, hard work and dedication that the owners put in sure was reflected in their dogs appearance.
The poodles were gossiping, sipping water and keeping a constant check on what was going on in their surroundings.
‘Did you see the kind of clip she turned up in, she looked as though two badly eaten doughnuts had been trimmed on to her rump’ a poodle giggled.
‘Oh my goodness gracious me, are you serious?’ another one replied.
‘Totally, it would have been quite adorbs (adorable) had it not been so funny’ growled the black poodle.
I stood there momentarily unseen by the others until one of them turned round and realized that I was there and then all of them turned round and stared at me in amusement because I had given them a temporary distraction.
‘Who are you? What are you doing in our tent?’ A beautiful white poodle with an accent like Joanna Lumley asked me.
‘Who is she? Who is SHE?’ Another poodle demanded in a shrill voice and then fanned her face dramatically.
The other poodles raised their heads briefly before losing interest and getting back to discussing diamond collars and stuff.
I have never heard such posh accents before and I don’t know what accents poodles normally speak in but this lot had full public school accents and sounded very nice with it although I will say that I felt quite common and somewhat grubby in comparison.
There was certainly no denying the glamour of the poodle tent, it was 100 percent ‘show dog’ and a bit like the back stage of a Moulin Rouge style show for dogs with regards to glamour and beauty.
And for me, it was a privilege to sneak in those couple of minutes watching the skill of the owners that work so hard to make their dogs look that way as well as getting a glimpse into the magical ‘world of Poodle’.
Four of the cutest beautifully conditioned kelpies I had ever seen were sat in their respective crates and in true kelpie fashion were all talking exceptionally fast and trying to out-talk one another.
‘Excuse me sweetie, you don’t have a spare sheep in your pocket do you?’ Asked a black kelpie.
‘Don’t be cheeky, that is SO cheeky!’ Snapped a chocolate kelpie who I learned was the alpha bitch.
‘What? I only asked for a spare sheep’ the kelpie responded looking mortally wounded at being called ‘cheeky’.
‘As if she would carry a sheep in her pocket’ the chocolate kelpie growled and then mouthed the words ‘sorry’ to me and shrugged her shoulders and then whispered ‘don’t suppose you have some hot chips in your pocket?’
‘Give us a kiss!’ a little black kelpie with the cutest ears I have ever seen; shouted through his crate and because I have a weakness for kelpies as I have one of my own, I found myself being lured into temptation so the black kelpie could give my hands a wash and tell me all about his day.
As I got up to leave; the kelpies went back to discussing sheep, toys and food and were talking so fast that I could barely understand them but that is the thing with cattle dogs, sheep dogs you see – too busy to let time stay still and if they can’t herd it, they talk about it instead.
‘Watch out people, I am coming through!’ barked a deep booming voice of an Irish wolfhound.
Trotting along like a small pony, this stunning Irish wolfhound commanded respect, while swishing his tail just because he was so pleased to be there and thought everyone was there just to see him.
‘Hello, look at me, look how big I am, who wants to play with me?’ he shouted as he greeted everyone and anything that crossed his path.
The little dogs barked their heads off and told him to ‘bugger off their patch’ and then hid behind their owners for bravery as the gentle giant went by.
‘I could eat you if I wanted to!’ A Chihuahua yelped at him, and he meant it too – well in his dreams anyway.
‘Yep and I could shit you out again buddy!’ laughed the Irish wolfhound in a good-natured voice.
Feeling suitably crushed at that response, the little dog pursed his lips into a ‘cat bum’ shape of disapproval and then pretended that he was invisible because there is nothing more insulting for a tiny dog than being compared to the turd of an Irish wolfhound in terms of size.
After visiting and speaking to lots of dogs around the show, we had gone back to where Pippin would be showing as I had promised him that I would cheer him on in the show ring.
‘Bronte is my face clean?’ Pippin asked his sister.
Pippin asks if his face is clean
‘Yes Pippin, you look perfect’ Bronte growled back at him and he did as well, perfectly groomed as an Italian greyhound can be, fresh clean coat and neatly clipped nails – he could not have looked any more handsome.
‘Can you send a Facebook message to the Iggy gang as well as Amex in QLD?’ Pippin asked me in a grateful voice.
Reassuring him that I would be on top of his social media campaign, I promptly took a photo of him and posted it to Facebook advising his peers that he was going in to the ring shortly.
Pippin was desperate to do well in the show not just for himself but to make his Mum proud of him. Little did Pippin realize that Denise was already proud of him, no matter how he did or no matter what – except for the times that he rolls in horse/fox/dog shit and then the pride is somewhat retracted until he at least has a bath.
Jeni’s dog Sting; who is a professional show dog with a splendid pair of testicles, had been coaching Pippin on how to stand, trot and look gorgeous.
Sexy Sting sticking his tongue out!
‘Now remember what I say, you have as much right to be here as anybody so do it for all the Iggies in the club and remember Amex in QLD is waiting on the results and all of us love you no matter how you do’. Sting whispered in Pippin’s ears and then patted him on the back with his long slender paw.
Pippin nodded and bit his lip and tried not to cry, dancing from one paw to the other, he muttered to himself repeatedly ‘I am a show dog, I AM a show dog, I am a SHOW DOG, I CAN do this and I WILL do this’ as he tried to drum Sting’s message in to his head and ultimately, his self belief.
‘Good lad!’ Sting grinned at him and nodded towards Bronte ‘He will be OK’.
‘Break a leg and good luck my friend’ Chewy the Tibetan shouted to Pippin.
‘Shhhh, never mention broken legs to an Iggy, we have legs that snap like carrots!’ Bronte growled at Chewy and then started to fiddle with her handkerchief because she was so nervous.
Chewy gives his support to Pippin
Luckily I managed to get a couple of photographs of Pippin in the show ring being trotted around and standing on the table while the judge checked him over.
Pippin – a brave boy doing his best
Doing a quick update to Facebook with the photos of Pippin, Fran from QLD quickly replied after a few minutes ‘Well?’ as she wanted to know how Pippin had done and it was to be an agonizing wait for Fran while we waited for the judge to make her decision.
Pippin stood nicely while the judge made her decision and you could just see the focus in his little face.
‘Sting said I am a show dog, I am a show dog and I am as good as any show dog’ Pippin shut his eyes tight while he waited for the judge,
‘I deserve to be here in my own right and winning is not everything, Mum loves me no matter what’ Pippin said under his breath.
Pippin was so wrapped up in his little mantra that Sting had taught him, he did not even see the judge award him Best Neuter in Breed – our dear little Pippin had won his class.
‘Pippin, you have won my love’ Denise whispered to her little dog as he walked out of the show ring.
‘I am sorry I let you down, I get so nervous when I have to stand that my legs shake and I cannot stop them, I am so sorry but I am a good boy aren’t I?’ Pippin asked Denise, totally not hearing what she said.
‘Pippin, you won – you did it!’ Denise hugged and kissed the tiny little Italian greyhound as he trembled with nerves.
‘I tried to stand still and I tried to trot nicely and I know I dance around a bit, what did you say?……..’ Pippin’s voice trailed off as Denise’s words started to sink in.
‘I knew you could do it, totally knew it – well done lad!’ Sting barked loudly and then told a Chihuahua to ‘piss off’ for looking at him wrong.
Sting – shows how proud he is of Pippin!
Bronte had no such restraint and was crying unashamedly and yelling ‘This is MY brother, he has just won Best Neuter and he has no testicles!’
Bronte – tells the world that Pippin won his class (and has no testicles)
‘Of course he has no testicles silly, that is why it is best neuter!’ Woody the Iggy piped up from the background.
‘What, I won, are you sure?’ Pippin stammered to his friends that were all standing there proud as punch, even little Chewy was joining in on the clapping and celebrations.
Soon every dog in our area was congratulating little Pippin and all you could hear was the sound of barking and if you ‘speak dog’, it translated to ‘Well done Pippin!’
Pippin the winner!
I didn’t hear the rest of what the dogs were saying, my ears and senses were burnt out from the privilege of being in their world for the evening, but I didn’t need to hear them anyway because their actions spoke far louder than their words (or barks).
I could just make out Pippin being lifted on to the shoulders of Woody, Sting and Chewy while the other dogs clapped and Bronte led the procession in a display of high kicking of her slim legs.
‘I won, I really won!’ Pippin said in a mixture of shock, amazement and pride.
Yes Pippin, you did win and in so ways as well – a true champion and with that I updated my Facebook status to Fran in QLD to tell her that Pippin had won.
Thanks and acknowledgments
I think that many people do not realize the time, effort, skill and dedication that go into exhibiting dogs at dog shows.
The night I spent at the dog show I saw some incredible specimens of various breeds of dog with owners spending hours making sure their pets were in their finest form to be shown in the ring.
I saw that owners/exhibitors that spend far more time, money, love, care and effort on their dogs than they do for themselves.
I found the dogs to be friendly, well socialized, in beautiful condition and lovely examples of their breed and the owners had every right to be proud of them.
The exhibitors freely allowed me into their areas and I was able to watch them grooming their dogs, I was also allowed to take photographs and where possible, pet and grab a quick smooch with them (the dogs of course!).
This show was very different from what I had been to before in the UK. It had a friendly atmosphere with everyone only too willing to explain to you or help you if asked and I would say, would be well worth a visit purely for the experience.
I left the Western Classic Dog Show with an exceptionally high opinion and the belief that if anyone knows how to do a great dog show, it is the Australians and in this case, WA that also made me very proud to call myself Australian.
So with that in mind, I would like to thank the exhibitors/owners/breeders for making me feel so welcome and allowing me to take photographs of their gorgeous dogs – your skill and dedication to your animals is amazing.
Dogs West – fantastic show, really something to be proud of and I look forward to the next one.
Denise Pringle – for allowing me to follow Pippin and make him the star of my stories.
Jeni Sach, Dee Cole, Chewy’s owner – Sarah, Woody’s owner – Lyn, and Kim and Ian Cross for all allowing me to use your wonderful dogs for my stories.
No offence is intended by this story and I just write things down as they come in to my head.
Whilst the dogs in my stories are in fact real, the dialogue that I give them is invented and any bearing or resemblance to the real dogs is purely coincidental and is in good fun and from my imagination only.
Samantha Rose (C) All writing and photography is Copyright March 2015