The judge grabbed my hand delicately, but in a decided way.
– Loosen the ring leash, please, and let this dog run freely – only then the judge’s words came to my mind. Apparently, he had already spoken to me a few times before, but on the other hand, I hadn’t told him that I hear with only one ear. The noise prevailing in the competition hall effectively drowned all the signals that had been sent in my direction. Now I can understand nonverbal signals and I am focused on the ring, but then it was one of my first competitions. It was a miracle that I somehow managed to show the dog in the right breed and in the right ring. There was a presentation of Afghan Hounds just before mine and noticing the way they are presented I wanted to do the same with Goran. Thanks God I didn’t lift his tail up – that would be a total failure and a total disgrace at the same time. But I didn’t know that at that time. After a few running rounds with the dog the judge said it was enough so I took the dog and left the ring. His assistant, however, succeeded in attracting my attention before I disappeared in the crowd for good.
– Please wait, Madam! Your dog still hasn’t been described – she led me to the judge’s desk. So there I was standing – the owner of that borzoi and my dog. Well, precisely speaking, my dog was not standing but lying. Goran, disgusted with all that confusion and constant pulling him, simply lay muttering something to himself. Standing and beaming foolishly, I was awaiting God knows what. The judge came and made the dog stand up again and then while scrutinizing every single part of his body, he was dictating his assessment to the secretary. Then he said:
– That’s all, thank you. The next step is comparison – he articulated it so clearly that I got it. I understood. Well, maybe not quite as when dogs from another class entered the ring, I eagerly joined them with Goran and started the next round.
The judge was on the verge on despair and he sent his assistant to me as he didn’t feel like shouting to me any more.
– This is the open class and you must take part in the comparison! – I got confused again. – Please stand behind the ring and I will call you when the right moment comes – and thanks God, as at that moment I had completely no idea what they wanted from me. But it worked, I didn’t take my eyes from the assistant and when she nodded her head I dashed towards the ring. To my surprise, the judge came to me and said
– Congratulations, Best of Dogs, please come after the bitches competition – the judge, with a subtle smile lingering on his lips, shook my hand. I think it was the moment to feel satisfaction but standing next to the entrance and waiting for the assistant’s merciful beckoning, I was shaking like a bowl of jelly. I had to wait for ages. Finally, we were shown to enter. And then it started again – running to and fro during which I wasn’t thinking about my dog but cursing my wide trousers, which I had put on thinking it would be a good idea. It wasn’t a good idea, as, constantly cursing, I was praying not to knock the teeth out. My teeth. I was riveted to the spot when I heard:
– Congratulations, Best of Breed – and one more shaking hands with the Judge.
Holy Mother! Did Goran really win? This hysteric that couldn’t stand dog shows? Did the dog with the biggest depression in the world and constant fits of migraine really win the breed! Yes! He did! Despite the fact that I did my best to disturb him. Being over the moon, I drove home for a Sunday dinner with the most beautiful dog. It doesn’t matter that he howls, sits in corners and cries for hours just because the world isn’t cheerful. It doesn’t matter that he feels offended without a reason and doesn’t let you touch him because….just because. He is the most beautiful one and I can forgive him.
Still, our dinner was eaten in a nervous atmosphere, as in the afternoon I had to experience the comparison on the honourable ring. So many people would be observing our rounds. I have to be careful not to trip over, to loosen the leash, not to let him lie down and, for goodness’ sake, not to lift his tail up. Now I know that this day was a huge practical lesson for me.
The owners of dog beauties and spectators, who were dying to see the final competition of the most beautiful dogs, were slowly pouring into the small hall where the honourable ring was situated. Goran was again getting nervous, clearly disgusted with the crowd. He was really fed up with the competition. Calmly, he will survive. We are just about to finish. I was walking to and fro. I started running, as Goran left to himself becomes even more depressive. He is howling as if he wanted to say that that he is not a toy and it wasn’t his fault to be in this particular place at that particular time. And that it is too loud. And that the air is stuffy.
Running, running, running. While running Goran is starting to assume more and more bizarre positions.
– Darek, look at him, I think he is limping – I started to run, but Darek, indulging in the grooming of the dogs from the IXth group, didn’t bother to give a closer look to Goran
– No, he is just fine – he said when I came back
– No, he is not. He is limping! – a man sitting on a chair and taking care of the order in the hall suddenly cut into our conversation.
Goran was limping. Limping , howling, lying and jumping on four paws after a second. He became truly hysterical. This happens to him quite often. Such a type. Then it is really difficult because he fights against being touched and with the most delicate touch he starts to cry as if he was run over by a lorry. He just can’t stand still. He is fidgeting as if he had threadworms. That’s the essence of Goran.
However, we did enter the honourable ring. Goran was the third one in the group. He was the third one because there were only three hounds left. He was lucky.
Now I tenderly remind this show and I am truly grateful to the judge that, despite the fact that he had numerous reasons, he didn’t dismiss us from the ring. And me? I run around the ring with Goran’s son, who howls to the same extent, if not more. But his howling really makes me happy. He howls when I abandon him to exhibit another dog. And then I return and he is so glad as though he hadn’t seen me for ages.
I keep on learning. Although it may not look that way, proper dog showing is not easy at all, and the showing of what you want to show is a great skill. Just like people, dogs have their better and worse days. There are dogs for which dog shows are their element and there are dogs that will never take liking to dog shows. They will tolerate them and treat like necessary evil. They will do it for us.
My dogs do that for me. I try to help them, not to disturb when they are in the ring. I had the pleasure to meet the people who were willing to share their experience with me and they showed me the way individual things should look like and what I should pay attention to during a dog show. And how not to become distracted from my dog. I am trying to realize that dogs can sometimes be fed up. That they in fact don’t feel like doing anything. That each judge is a human being with the whole range of feelings, memories and emotions , that judges can have better and worse days as well and that I, as a dog exhibitor, have my place at the very end of that line. I am an addition to the thing which is crucial on dog shows. So I am not going to dispute or quarrel with judges whose dog should be the first one and why. Or that my dog hasn’t got the flaws that were mentioned. I am not going to tear assessments cards, or throw my leash angrily to the ground because this is something one simply shouldn’t do. I am not going to criticize or point at those exhibitors whose dogs I don’t like. my knowledge in this area is not sufficient , and apart from that, borzois are such a breed in which breeders have the possibility to mix and choose such features they personally find particularly attractive. I am going to behave in such a way so that the breed could cherish its greatness and dogs could feel they belong to a unique group.