"A Husband Goes to the Dogs"

This article first appeared in the July 2005 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. AKC logo
by Kevin Gallagher

It all started years ago while attending a local dog show. My wife came up with the bright idea to get a Newfoundland. I showed a little resistance, and then came the threat of the DIVORCE. Being a newlywed and not wanting a public war to ensue, I caved in. Little did I know that my weekends would be changed forever. I would no longer be able to sleep late, put on my slippers and hang out on the couch and do nothing. In a short time, I was persuaded that we needed to show our new dog. This led to more dogs and now with six in tow, my weekends are consumed from before daybreak until the wee hours of the night.

On a typical weekend, we get up well before the rooster crows. We have to be ready to leave in 90 minutes: We feed the six dogs, wash the show dog, shower ourselves and finish packing the van. Invariably we will forget to bring something, but another one can always be purchased at the show. We must arrive just as the gates open to get a good parking place and set up the grooming table. Then wait for two hours until it’s time to start grooming. I have prepared dogs for over 100 ring times and not missed one. This has not stopped the constant remarks, “Are you going to be ready?” “It is 5 minutes to ring time and you aren’t ready!” (she forgets to mention the 27 Dobes that will need to be judged ahead of us.) Then there is the run to ringside to wait for 30 minutes until the judge is ready for the specials. When the dog is passed to the handler, the fun hasn’t stopped yet. Occasionally I accidentally hand her the bottle with the grooming spray instead of water. The look on look on her face when she takes a squirt in her own mouth makes my day!.

And then there are the expenses that intrude on a “normal” life-style. With the first Newf came the Suburban to transport one dog. Then we added a travel trailer and a minivan to transport the growing herd. If your dog wins, it gets worse. You buy jewelry…lots of jewelry. One thing you can be sure of. All show days end the same whether you win or lose. You sit in a chair with your feet up, a beer in one hand and the remote in the other. The only thing that will be different on the morning after is how many beer bottles are around the chair. K.G.